Mzansi Afrika

From Johannesburg South Africa, a window on the world

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Foreign property ownership in SA

Yesterday’s Business Day has an article on foreign land ownership in South Africa. The government has appointed a panel to investigate the issue. Concerns have been raised by our president and the ANC about the scale of foreign land ownership in the country. The panel will examine general patterns of land ownership and landlessness. The idea is to conduct a thorough investigation to provide information that will inform government policy making.

This is an issue which I find worrying – I’d like to buy a holiday house one day, and I’d hate to be priced out of the market because foreigners have been gobbling up the best land. It’s not that I have anything against foreigners, I’m speaking purely from an economic perspective. I hope I don’t sound like some crazy fascist pig because that’s not at all my intention. The second aspect that I find to be of concern is the environment. I don’t think enough attention is being paid to long term conservation or developments that are environmentally friendly. People are making money and that’s the bottom line.

Someone mentioned to me that Australia had a similar problem in the past, and had formulated policies to control foreign land ownership. I decided to go online to see what I could find out. The results were interesting - maybe South Africa would benefit by taking a leaf out of Australia’s book.

Firstly, I think its important to note:

The Government recognises community concerns about foreign ownership of Australian assets. One of the objectives of the Government’s foreign investment policy is to balance these concerns against the strong economic benefits to Australia that arise from foreign investment.

It’s one thing to talk about restricting foreign land ownership, but at the same time it’s important for South Africa to benefit from foreign investment in this sector. Can we have the best of both worlds? Let’s see what the Australians have done.

When it comes to the purchasing of already developed land:

Developed residential real estate means existing houses, flats or units. Acquisitions of developed residential real estate by foreign interests are not normally approved except (i) in the case of foreign companies buying for their senior executives resident in Australia for periods longer than 12 months, and (ii) foreign nationals temporarily resident in Australia for more than 12 months purchasing a residence for use as their principal place of residence while in Australia (and not for rental purposes), subject to the sale of the property when they cease to reside in Australia. This latter category includes long-stay retirees, and students 18 years of age and over studying courses of more than twelve months duration at recognised tertiary institutions.

When it concerns undeveloped property:

Acquisitions of residential real estate (including vacant building allotments) for development by foreign interests are normally approved subject to a specific condition requiring construction to commence within 12 months. Applications to acquire existing residences for redevelopment may be approved under this category provided that the proposal provides for substantial redevelopment expenditure in relation to the acquisition cost of the property and/or an increase in the housing stock. Once the development condition has been fulfilled, there is no restriction on the subsequent use of the property by the foreign investor, ie. it may be rented out, sold or retained for the foreign investor's own use.

The way I understand it, and I could be wrong, is that as a foreigner, unless certain conditions apply, you can’t buy an already existing house, but you can buy undeveloped land, build a house on it, and then sell or rent it – to Australians, or live in yourself – due to the first policy concerning developed property.

The Government seeks to ensure that foreign investment in residential real estate increases the supply of residences and is not speculative in nature. The Government’s foreign investment policy, therefore, seeks to channel foreign investment in the housing sector into activity that directly increases the supply of new housing (ie, new developments - house and land, home units, townhouses, etc) and brings benefits to the local building industry and their suppliers.

The effect of the more restrictive policy measures on developed residential real estate is twofold. First, it helps reduce the possibility of excess demand building up in the existing housing market and secondly, it aims to encourage the supply of new dwellings, many of which would become available to Australian residents, either for purchase or rent. The cumulative effect should therefore be to maintain greater stability of house prices and the affordability of housing for the benefit of Australian residents.


The Australians have been pretty much successful in trying to control property prices and speculation, while still managing to encourage foreign property investment in a way that has been beneficial to workers and the local building industry. The situation is far more complex than the scope of this entry, I haven’t covered commercial property, large scale investment, or full conditionality – yet I think, or hope, that I have focused on some of the issues that may be relevant to the South African situation. If you’re interested in delving further, the links are here and here.

Sci-Fi

A group of eminent scientists from around the world have voted Blade Runner the best science fiction movie of all time. Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey came second, with Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back taking third place.

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov got the vote for favourite book and author, with Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham also high on the list. Other favourite authors were Arthur C Clarke, Ursula le Guin, Philip K Dick, Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert and Stanislaw Lem. (More)

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Burundi/DRC/Rwanda tensions on the rise

It looks like some of the peace processes in the Great Lakes region aren't doing too well. This is really disappointing, after months and even years of talks and signed agreements, somehow peace remains elusive. Irin news reports that Azarias Ruberwa, leader of the rebel group, the Congolese Rally for Democracy, and one of the DRC's 4 vice-presidents, has now pulled out of the transitional powersharing government. Ruberwa has accused the transitional government, which has been in place for a year already, of failing to establish proper guidelines for integrating former rebels into the new national army. He also blames the transitional government for
failing to bring security to civilians living in the two Kivu provinces and in the district of Ituri in Orientale Province.


Added to this the Burundi peace process isn't going too well either and renewed tensions may plunge the whole region back into instability. Last week, the National Liberation Force, the last Burundi rebel group which has refused to be part of the peace process, attacked Congolese Tutsi refugees, and this week they have been attacking a Burundian army camp near Bujumbura. These incidents have renewed tensions between Rwanda, the DRC and Burundi. I think that the bottom line is that the leaders who can make a difference aren't interested in giving up power and all the money from selling natural resourses that comes with it.

Friday, August 20, 2004

JEWISH CEMETERY DESECRATED IN ROMANIA

AFP has this report: A Jewish cemetery in the Transylvanian city of Cluj has been desecrated with anti-Semitic profanations and swastikas, the president of the local Jewish community, Gavrila Goldner, said today. Goldner told reporters he had reported the matter to police, who had opened an inquiry. The cemetery holds a mass grave for 126 Jews murdered when the region was occupied by Hungary during World War II.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Using cell phones to find God

Cell phones are finding a role in religion.

For followers of Islam, companies such as LG Electronics and Dubai-based Ilkone Mobile Telecommunications make phones that aid Muslims in their daily practice by indicating the direction of Mecca, providing the call to prayer or even incorporating the Quran within the phone. Even those with a regular phone can augment it with a religious ring tone or download a lunar calendar. The text message, a dominant method of communication in many parts of the world, has also become a valuable religious tool. Indian operator BPMobile lets customers send prayers by SMS to a Bombay temple where they are offered to the Hindu god Ganesh.
In a similar vein, subscribers in the United States and several European countries can receive a
daily text message from the pope. (More)

New Bushism

A brand new Bushism is doing the media rounds. During a speech which covered Iraq, the US president referred to the "Soviet dinar" - confusing the Russian rouble with the Iraqi dinar.

From the White House: "Anyway, so these guys walk in, you know, and I was emotional, they were emotional. And I said, why you? He said, the Saddam dinar had devalued and -- he was a merchant, a small businessman; I don't know if he was a sub-chapter S corporation or not, but he was a small businessman. And he had sold dinars on a particular day to buy another currency, euros or dollars, so he could buy gold to manufacture his product. And because the Soviet dinar had devalued, Saddam Hussein plucked this guy out of society to punish him, and six other small merchants, for the devaluation of their currency. He just summarily said, you're it, come here -- and cut his hand off. "

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Press Freedom in SA

Sapa reports that the World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC) has expressed concern at what it calls the "South African government's attempts to muzzle media" after reports of a terrorist attack emerged from Pakistan earlier this month.

Two South Africans were arrested in Pakistan for allegedly being involved or associated with a group which sought to bomb key buildings in the country. The South African media acted on the reports which came from Pakistan from French news agency, Agence France Presse, Raymond Louw, the Africa consultant of the WPFC said in a statement on Wednesday. Cabinet said on August 4 that the "government wishes to express its outrage" at the manner in which reports about these plots have been aired. It said the reports were "without any credible substantiation from security agencies in our country and in Pakistan" and further called on the media "to exercise restraint in dealing with these matters". Louw said: "Before publishing the latest plot allegations, journalists had called the Presidency and other government departments who referred them to security agencies which refused to comment on the record.
"When one newspaper eventually persuaded two government spokesmen to comment officially, they said they had no official confirmation of the threats." He said in view of the circumstances, the WPFC "regards the government's action as threatening and an unwarranted attempt to coerce the media into self-censorship". "It notes, too, that the government appears to have ignored guarantees of freedom of expression and freedom of the media contained in SA's constitution," he said. The WPFC is based in Washington DC in the United States and includes 45 journalistic organisations on six continents representing labour and management in the print and broadcasting media.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Taking Action in Darfur

Chris makes an interesting comment on the United Nations and use of the term genocide. As my comments section tells me that my answer is too long for non-upgraded accounts I will have to answer here. Chris says:

"I believe that the US tried to get a resolution passed at the UN which declared the situation in Dafur as a genocide. They were not able to get it passed, which means that the UN can now sit on their backsides and do nothing. If it had been declared a genocide the UN would have been legally bound to start some kind of action, even if it was only sanctions. Is the above correct? Is there any organisation more useless than the UN?"

Well, as far as my understanding goes, the US did not try to get a UN genocide resolution passed, first UN experts have to declare genocide, and then any state that has signed the UN Convention Against Genocide can call upon the UN to act. I suppose you can blame the UN, but the UN is after all a sum of its parts or its member nations. If the UN declared genocide, wouldn't the member states of the relevant UN organ have to vote on a resolution passing whatever action then gets decided upon? I'm not exactly too clear on how the UN would operate in this case.

So far the EU has declined to use the "G" word opting instead for "atrocities being committed on a large scale." And while the U.S. Congress has accused the Sudanese government of genocide, the Bush administration has held off on making a judgment. The State Department (the lead federal agency responsible for U.S. foreign affairs) has told congress that it's difficult to establish whether genocide is in fact taking place. Even if Colin Powell as Secretary of State were to declare genocide the Bush administration would not be required to take legal action.
To my knowlege the only UN resolution voted on so far in recent months on this issue is whether sanctions should be imposed on Sudan. The US pushed for international sanctions, but as they already have sanctions against Sudan, they personally had nothing to lose. The US didn't stand around waiting for the UN when they went to war on Iraq, but in terms of their point of view I would imagine that it would be politically insane for them to get involved militarily in Sudan at this point in time and history. I don't think the UN is solely to blame, there's a global lack of political will to take action - and that includes the AU.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Locusts in Darfur

Richard makes the somewhat cynical observation that there is nothing in Darfur for the locusts to destroy anyway. Indeed he would be right, I suppose it's easy to get carried away with sensational headlines without stopping to think. Planting season usually occurs from April to June with the harvest starting in October, but obviously there was no planting done this year. The BBC online reports:

"In fact the planting season that should have occurred now has been completely disrupted by the conflict. People have not been on their farms to plant crops. This is the time of year when people traditionally in this part of Sudan are going hungry as there is a gap in food supplies between last year and the harvest that will see them into next year."

Locust swarms may be heading for Darfur

Experts say that the locust swarms in parts of north and west Africa may be heading for Darfur.

"Millions of locusts may be heading for Sudan's Darfur region, pest control experts said Wednesday, where violence has already created a humanitarian disaster and two million people are short of food and medicine. If locust swarms do hit, insecurity in the remote western region would prevent an effective control operation, they said."

Passion of the Present is an excellent blog keeping track of events and providing analysis on Darfur.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Has the ANC Youth League lost the plot?

Tomorrow is International Youth Day and next week the ANC Youth League holds its 22nd National Congress in Johannesburg. This year the League also celebrates it’s 60th anniversary, and in doing so claims to be the oldest youth organization of its kind on the African continent. So, I thought it would be a good time to do a blog entry on the ANC Youth League (ANCYL.) Has the Youth League adapted from being a forceful struggle movement in the days of apartheid into an organization equipped to effectively fight the challenges facing today’s South African youth? Or has it merely become a nice comfortable place for budding ANC politicians to bide their time dabbling in useless policy initiatives until they make the transition into senior government positions?

Two ways that the ANCYL have tried to make their mark have been through the National Youth Commission (NYC), and the Umsobomvu Youth Fund. The NYC is a statutory body established in terms of the National Youth Commission Act and aims to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the challenges facing the youth. Umsobomvu is a financial lending institution established by government to help disadvantaged youth to finance small business and other business enterprises. It is policed by the NYC. I think it may also be a Youth League investment arm although I do stand to be corrected on this.

All in all it seems that the NYC basically concentrates on advising the various government departments on youth friendly policy making. I heard ANCYL leader Malusi Gigaba being interviewed on radio not too long ago. Whenever he was asked about concrete projects that the YL were involved in he kept on referring to the work done by the NYC. Hard questions about policy input were answered in the vaguest of terms and he ducked and dived, and seemed simply unable to mention any real, working projects. In general the NYC has come under criticism for failing to implement pro-youth policies.

As far as Umsobomvu goes, today’s Sowetan reports that it has even come under criticism from within the ANCYL itself for not sticking to its mandate of developing the youth, but rather operates like a conventional bank taking limited risks.

It also seems to me that some senior Youth League members have been using the organization as a path to self enrichment. The
Mail & Guardian has the dirt:

“In July 2003 Lembede Investment Holdings, the African National Congress Youth League’s (
ANCYL) investment company, was touted as the new 16,5% empowerment partner in property management company Rand Leases. The deal appears to have been a sham to achieve two goals: to enrich youth league leaders and to prepare the ground for a questionable bid by mining house JCI to take full control of Rand Leases. The JCI bid for Rand Leases was questioned — and subsequently probed by the securities regulation authority — after minority shareholders discovered that JCI was using a company controlled by youth league leaders as a front”.

Two of the greatest challenges facing young people in South Africa today are unemployment and HIV/AIDS. It seems to me that the ANCYL has failed to do anything substantial, and particularly the NYC has failed in carrying out its mandate. Even if they have come up with good policies, they certainly haven’t managed to get any of them implemented. Looking back at the contribution of the Youth League over the past ten years it seems difficult to tell what they have actually been doing about making a real difference to improving the lives of South African youth. I know that I don’t have the world’s best memory but it seems that whenever the ANCYL is in the media it’s either because they’re being criticized, or because they’re issuing statements backing up things their government masters have said. This particular gem written last year on Zimbabwe was found on their website:

“Perhaps because we sought to respect some rules of diplomacy, we, the ANC Youth League, have also avoided speaking our mind about the true intentions of those who have criticized our government's policies towards Zimbabwe. In the process, lies and distortions have been told about the true story of Zimbabwe, the real intention being to distract public attention and influence public opinion. Of this, in Shakespeare's Henry V, King Henry V says to Lord Scrope, the Earl of Cambridge, and Sit Thomas Grey: "'Tis so strange that though the truth of it stands off as gross as black on white, my eye will scarcely see it".

According to the Sowetan, a radical shake-up of Youth League leadership is expected during the upcoming conference, a leadership with a more radical stance concerning youth policies. Personally I think the YL has lost it’s bite, it didn’t sit around making policies and talking when it was a radical grassroots youth movement fighting for democracy. What has happened to that fighting spirit? Why aren’t they aligning themselves with movements like the Treatment Action Campaign and fighting against government’s stance on aids, or using their government and business connections to set up youth internment and employment training schemes? As the Mail & Guardian reports : "When confronted with questions about conflict of interests among its leaders who also have business interests, the league is prone to respond: "We fought for this democracy so that we can enjoy its fruit. What is wrong with young people becoming rich?" I guess there’e nothing wrong with Youth League members becoming rich – as long as they don’t forget why their organization exists in the first place, and it seems to me that this of what many of them have done.

Friday, August 06, 2004

SA/Israel relations

Today’s This Day newspaper is blaring the front page headline : “SA backs move to isolate Israel”

From the article:
“South Africa is set to back a drive by the Palestinian Authority to question Israel’s credentials at the United Nation’s general assembly next month – a move similar to that which led to the apartheid regime’s isolation in 1974.”

President Thabo Mbeki is to personally lead the South African delegation that will attend the UN meeting.

Our deputy foreign minister Aziz Pahad is to tour the Gulf region, Israel and the Palestinian territories later this month. Part of his mission will be to gather information for the UN general assembly. In the past South Africa has tended to side with the Palestinians on United Nations resolutions. Palestinian foreign minister Farouk Khadoumi told This Day that Palestine will be asking for economic sanctions against Israel.

The article also reports however, that SA is trying to stop Israel’s moves to reduce diplomatic relations with Pretoria. Foreign Affairs director general Ayanda Ntsaluba will be going to Israel later this month to discuss the issue.

If only Pahad would spend as much time, money and effort being as critical of Zimbabwe as he is against Israel.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

US Terror Alert

USA Today has a breakdown of the intelligence information leading to the latest high terrorism alert in the US:

• Intelligence that officials have been gathering for months indicating that al-Qaeda is in the execution phase of an attack in the USA designed to affect the Nov. 2 elections. This information has been conveyed to the public since April 2004, but officials have noted that it is not specific about time, place or method of attack.

• Word on Friday morning that Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan, an al-Qaeda computer specialist captured in Pakistan, was active in planning attacks and had computer files with surveillance information on five financial centers in the three U.S. cities. Officials believe the surveillance files — 20 to 40 pages each, including details about what explosives would work best to destroy the buildings — were put together in 2000 and 2001. But at least one file was updated as recently as January 2004.

• Additional information that Khan has connections to individuals who authorities believe are planning pre-election attacks here. There also was evidence that those planning the attacks had "recent" access to the surveillance information about the financial buildings. An official refused to explain what he meant by "recent," other than to say it did not mean last week.

• Intelligence about a separate threat to New York City. Officials would offer no details but said the threat was being taken very seriously and remains under investigation. That threat alone was deemed serious enough that it might have prompted action.

The timing of the terror alert seems rather politically expedient to George W. If a terror attack is prevented he'll walk away looking like a hero, it gets Kerry out of the headlines, and diverts attention away from the chaos and confusion that we call Iraq. Another attack will almost certainly mean saying good-bye to another term in office. But let's not be too unkind to the old boy, he does have a duty to protect the American people and after 9/11 prevention is definately better than cure.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

MRN on Al Quaida suspects

The Media Review Network (a media organisation with the stated aim of dispelling myths and stereotypes about Palestinians propagating myths and stereotypes about Zionism) has released a press statement concerning the two South Africans who were arrested in Pakistan for having alleged links to Al Quaida. Last night news broke that the two had confessed to planning terrorist attacks against tourist destinations in Johannesburg. This does appear to be unlikely since South Africa has been strongly vocal in it's stance against the war on Iraq and it seems diificult to think of a motive that Al Qaida might have against South Africa. But then again, why did the two men come up with this particular confession, even if it was made made under the duress of torture. From the MRN:

"Claims that South African “Al-Qaeda” suspects plan to bomb SA tourist sites is ludicrous!

The Media Review Network finds the accusation that Dr. Feroz Ganchi and Zuber Ismail planned to bomb tourist sites in South Africa absolutely ludicrous. This statement issued by the Pakistani intelligence, probably at the behest of their masters in the CIA/Mossad, surely cannot be considered by even the most dimwitted, as credible.

What possible justification would Al Qaeda - whoever they may be - have to plant explosives at South African tourist sites? South Africa has resolutely stood by its principles that any action taken in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere must be done under the aegis of the United Nations or other multi lateral organisations. Why should they risk alienating the South African government?

The Pakistani Government has surrendered its sovereignty under the authoritarian dictatorship of General Pervez Musharraf. In order to gain some legitimacy it has shamefully prostituted the entire nation to the USA.

The MRN dismisses these reports with utter contempt. We regard this as a feeble attempt to profile South African Muslims as terrorists. Let us remember the failure of the US and British intelligence and their craftiness in fabricating "evidence" to acheive their devious objectives.

The MRN expresses serious concern that the two South Africans held in the Pakistani prison are being tortured to make these so-called confesions. Similar confessions were made under duress at the Abu Ghraib prison recently. We urge the South African government and human rights organisations to insist on immediate access to these South Africans."


So now the Jews are behind the Pakistani intelligence services and in some way responsible for the lack of democracy in that country. Who is being ludicrous here? It is patently ridiculous to imply that Israel or the Mossad was pulling the strings behind this Al Qaida bust - I suppose Iqbal Jassat cannot resist the slightest opportunity to try and score a point against Israel.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

A single currency for Africa?

The Nepad Business Group is a group of organisations claiming as their mission a committment to helping Africa realise its full economic potential. The group acts as a medium between NEPAD and private companies who support its aims. One of the organisations in the Nepad Business Group is the African Business Roundtable. Their executive president Alhaji Bamanga Tukur is promoting the introduction of a single currency for Africa, much along the lines of the Euro I would imagine. Tukur is also Chairman of the umbrella Nepad Business Group, so I assume that Nepad also supports a single African currency in the longterm. Tukur thinks the African economy will do better under a single currency. He says the first step towards achieving this was to begin with the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) as proposed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Under a proposal already ratified by the of Heads of States and Governments, the West African common currency - ECO - will be coming into operation throughout the sub-region on July 1, 2005.

According to Tukur, "the introduction of a common currency in Europe had made it possible for the international community to treat the European market as a bloc rather than view the potentials of each national market. He said the same advantages would accrue to Africa if a common currency were to be introduced."

The Brookings Institute, a Washington based think tank, has a detailed analysis on the issue. . "Monetary union can in fact address very few of Africa's fundamental ills. At best, it can produce low inflation, but it cannot guarantee growth, and at worst, it can distract attention from essential issues. A more promising initiative is the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), through which African countries hope to exert peer pressure to correct governance failures and thus make progress in correcting Africa's problems. It is too early to see how effective that process will be, but if it succeeds, monetary union can crown that achievement. If not, monetary union will almost certainly fail, and highlight Africa's more fundamental policy failures."

The Sunday Times reports that the African Union has an explicit goal to establish a common currency for its members by 2030, in the same mould as the common currency adopted by 12 members of the European Union. Critics say they don't think this will work. African economies, are too diverse and far away from the kind of convergence that enabled European economies - after a long process - to move towards monetary union. (More)

Monday, August 02, 2004

US corruption in Iraq

A comprehensive examination of the U.S.-led agency that oversaw the rebuilding of Iraq has triggered at least 27 criminal investigations and produced evidence of millions of dollars' worth of fraud, waste and abuse, according to a report by the Coalition Provisional Authority's inspector general. The report is the most sweeping indication yet that some U.S. officials and private contractors repeatedly violated the law in the freewheeling atmosphere that pervaded the multibillion-dollar effort to rebuild the war-torn country. (More)

SA/Israel

Ha'aretz has this story about Major General Fumanekile Gqiba, the new South African ambassador to Israel. He seems moderate and thoughtful, or one could be cynical and observe that for now he is being fairly non-committal on some issues. He sidesteps the apartheid analogy saying "I'm on a learning curve. I would only like to comment on that when I've thoroughly studied the situation. I only know Tel Aviv and Jerusalem." On suicide bombings, "Today, we are the only country, on moral grounds, which is able to say to the Palestinians, `You guys, we don't think your strategy of using suicide bombers is justified.' It is terrorism. It is not accepted by international law. It has nothing to do with the military code. We have said this openly. We don't support suicide bombings. We are clear on this."

He makes an interesting comparison between the Palestinian military struggle and the ANC military struggle for liberation, ""The military aspect of the struggle cannot become an end in itself. It has to be a means to a political goal. Whatever we did on the military side was to force the regime toward the ultimate goal - the political one, of negotiation. That's where the difference is. We were led by politicians. Not the military leading the struggle. The military element must not become an end in itself ... For the Palestinians, the military element has become the thing. The Palestinians need to pause. Every bomb that kills civilians is counterproductive [for them]. It undermines them. At this point, they should say, `We need to sit down. We need to talk.'"

On Yasser Arafat however, he feels that, "But at this point in time Arafat is the leader and the Israeli state should not try to marginalize him. He is a prisoner. How do you ask a prisoner to take charge of security? It is better to negotiate with the devil you know. Arafat is part of the solution, not of the problem ... He recognizes the State of Israel. They must empower him."

Personally, I think that Arafat would be perfectly content to see Israel dismantled and at most go for a one state solution with equal Israeli/Palestinian powersharing. I also don't believe that Arafat has genuinely tried to stop terrorism.

All in all, so far it seems like his appointment could be a positive step towards restoring South Africa's relationship with Israel which has become more than a little chilly of late. He is, at any rate far less radical than Aziz Pahad our deputy minister of foreign affairs, but at the end of the day he is an ANC man through and through and would probably toe the party line.

Europe's Gypsies remember the Holocaust

Sixty years ago, on the night of 2-3 August 1944, the "Gypsy camp" at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp was liquidated after the last group of 2,897 Romany inmates there was gassed.

Gypsies from across Europe met at the former Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland today to remember hundreds of thousands of their ancestors killed by the Nazis and call for wider recognition of the Gypsy Holocaust. The ceremony, exactly 60 years after the night the Nazis gassed the final 2,900 Gypsies being held in the camp, also heard warnings that the Sinti and Roma continue to face persistent discrimination, especially in eastern Europe.