The Observer from London, Greater London, England on August 31, 1986 · 13
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The Observer from London, Greater London, England · 13

London, Greater London, England
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 31, 1986
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THE OBSERVER, SUNDAY 31 AUGUST 1986 13 Siege at gates of apartheid ALLISTER SPARKS D Harare A MAJOR effort to coordinate the campaign for sanctions against South Africa, with support for the frontline states to help them withstand retaliation by Pretoria, is taking shape in Harare, which is tense but frenetically active. It has become the dominant issue for discussion as delegates from-101 Third World countries gather here, 350 miles from the South African border, for J& eighth congress of the NonAligned Movement. The congress, which begins at summit level tomorrow, is gearing up for the most intense verbal assault on apartheid delivered at such close range. But as it does so the fear of retaliation is palpable. Harfce is bristling with security p&cautions: minute baggage slfetches at the airport take up -to -two hours, the airport road has been closed to the public there are tight security checks at the entrances to hotels, and armed guards have been posted at strategic points throughout the city. 'We are in a war situation hert and we don't want to take any!chances,' a Zimbabwe Cabinet Minister said. The war he was referring to is more -than just the threat of military attack, which six of the African countries have experienced. It is also an economic war being waged against the frontline states to increase a dependence that will be -politically submissive and serve v as a bulwark against sanctions. How to counter this campaign of enforced dependence is high on the non-aligned agenda. It also' became the focal point of a remarkable 15-day tour of the frontline states which the black American presidential hopeful, the Rev Jesse Jackson, completed last Thursday. Jackson began his tour simply repeating the popular American call for sanctions but the further he travelled the more aware he became that sanctions alone would not be enough because of South Africa's extensive ability to retaliate. At the heart of Pretoria's strategy of maintaining dependency is the regional transportation system. The frontline states have five routes to the sea that they can use instead of South Africa's railway network. Four axe either out of action or operating at low capacity because of sabotage of South African-backed rebels. The Benguela line through southern Angola, once the main route for ANOTHER cycle of mass protest funerals and more killings by the authorities are expected in South Africa's townships after last week's violence in Soweto the worst since a state of emergency was declared on 12 June. Militants in Soweto have already declared that they will defy the lawandconductapublic burial next weekend for 20 victims of last week&s shooting's. Behind the clash was the central issueof rents. Itwas protests by Vaal residents against rent increases in September 1984 that led to the latest round of racial trouble in South Africa. And in Soweto last Tuesday, it was a warning that rent defaulters would be evicted which led to what has been called the battle of White City, after the area where the violence broke out. Unofficial estimates put the death toll at 50. During the two years separating these incidents the entire system of black local government, financed mainly by rent collections, has collapsed. According to the Community Research Group based at the We need young people with winning ways to earn over 10,000 p.a. The Observer is looking for several very special people to work in its expanding Advertising Sales Department, selling Advertising over the telephone. These are well-paid positions that offer comprehensive ongoing sales training and real career opportunities in the Advertisement Department. 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On the other side of the continent-. nlvts nf thn Um. ambique National Resistance, wnicn me government tnere claims South Africa is still supporting despite the Nkomati non-aggression treaty it signed with Pretoria, constantly sabotage the railways to thp nnrta nf Maputo, Beira and Nacala as wen as an oil pipeline from Beira to Harare. Only the Tazara railway from Zambia's copperbelt to Dar es Salaam is unaffected. By the end of his tour Jackson had formulated a campaign call, publicly endorsed by all six frontline heads of state with whom he held talks, for a comprehensive American policy that would combine sanctions with a Marshall Aid1 Plan for the frontline states to strengthen their defences and lessen their dependence on South Africa. Jackson has now returned to the US to launch a campaign that could shape the debate on apartheid there, influence the thinking of Congress and the Democratic Party, and exert pressure on the Reagan administration to rethink its own flaccid approach to the issue. Jackson's strength, drawn from his experience in the civil rights campaign, is knowing how to dramatise an issue. Here he has persuaded the six to issue a joint invitation to President Reagan to come to southern Africa for a summit meeting. As an alternative, thev an offering to meet Reagan in Washington. Whether or not Reagan agrees to see them and he may find it politically unwise to refuse in the face of the November congressional elections Jackson plans to orchestrate a publicity campaign that will have the frontline heads of state before the House and Senate Foreign Relations Committees, meeting union, church and civil rights organisations, appearing on television and addressing mass rallies. There will be a forerunner to this joint campaign by the frontline six. The Zimbabwean Prime Minister Mr Robert Mugabe, accepted a personal invitation to visit the US ahead of the others in three weeks' time. He will do so with the increased status of chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement, the putative leader of the Third World. Soweto set for new rents war JO-ANN BEKKER reports on the simmering discontent that erupted in the battle of White City University of the Witwaters-rand, 300,000 Households in 30 blacktownshipscountrywideare refusing to pay rent. The group estimates the boycott has cost Pretoria more than SAR250 million (62.5-million) . Several councillors have been murdered. Others resigned after threats of violence, or when then-businesses were boycotted. Some were persuaded to resign by organisations affiliated to the United Democratic Front, an alliance of 600 groups formed three years ago to oppose black councils and the tricameral Parliament. The demise of the councils coincided with a call by the outlawed African National Congress to make the townships ungovernable. For a while this strategy achieve some success. When the Government retaliated with mass arrests and bans on meetings, the UDF SO POWERFUL was the mixture of toxic gases that erupted from Cameroon's volcanic Lake Nyos that the corpses of both man and beast attracted no flies for a week. Scientists interviewing survivors here presume this was because all the insects had died. Only the ants, safe in their underground nests, emerged to feast on cadavers swollen by the gases to as much as three times their normal size and weight. United Nations officials now think at least 1,700 people died when a cloud containing separate emissions of carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide drifted on to remote rural communities 1 1 days ago at the height of the country's rainy season. Yesterday was declared an official day of mourning in Cameroon for the victims of the Lake Nyos disaster. According to Professor Franco Bar-beri, an expert on volcanoes from the University of Pisa, who is studying the disaster : ' There is no longer any doubt that it was carbon dioxide which killed the people.' There was also hydrogen sulphide in the gas, which accounted for a smell described either as being like gunpowder or rotten eggs. But the victims died from lack of oxygen caused by too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Scientists say the people were asphyxiated and died painlessly and quickly. Eyewitnesses who Sew over the lake switched from mass rallies to house meetings. Residents were organised into street and area committees whose meetings were less easy to detect and disrupt. But under the State of Emergency the Government began to hit back. Early this month officials announced they had obtained court orders to evict 1,800 families from Sharpeville and surrounding townships. The day after the White City shootings, the daily newspaper The Sowetan quoted Soweto's director of housing, Del Kevan, as saying : ' There is nothing for nothing and very little for 10 cents. I am going to evict the incorrigibles.' Townshipgroupshavereacted in kind to the Government's tougher stance. Two years ago, militant youths fought with petrol bombs and rocks. But, according to Weekly Maireporter SefakoNyaka, who witnessed Tuesday's shootings, at least one armed guerrilla was involved. 'I realised the youths were protecting an armed person in their midst-a trained guerrilla, I suspect, probably using an AK-47 machine gun,' Nyaka wrote. The orphans of Lake Nyos : three of the Even the LINDSEY HILSUM reports from Wum in Cameroon on the gruesome discoveries still being made by relief workers at the scene of the Lake Nyos disaster. this weekend say that a waterfall at one end was boiling, and the lake itself was streaked black and red, With white powder on the surface. Lake Nyos is now mostly a clay red colour and is several feet higher than usual. Tests carried out on Thursday revealed that the ph balance of the water was normal, but it was 8C (46F) hotter than it should be. The scientists have not determined whether the huge bubble which released the gas had been trapped under the lake and was forced up by a volcanic eruption, or whether the gas was already in the water and the explosion was caused by an earth tremor. Nearly all those who died have been buried, but the weight of the swollen animal corpses has made the work of volunteers burying the thousands of cattle which perished extremely difficult. Scientists are interviewing survivors to try to determine exactly what happened. Some people say they heard an explosion, like a thunderclap, others report smelling a strange odour, but the majority remember little. ' I know I was breathing very hard and had no strength,' said Margaret Wandia, a survivor from the village of Subum, now being treated for burns in hospital at Wum the nearest town. Mugabe and Jackson at a cite bombed by South Africa. Jackson seeks fresh US role AMERICAN civil rights leader Jesse Jackson has taken bis grassroots movement, The Rainbow Coalition, on an exhaustive two-week, eight-country tour through southern Africa's frontline states to intensify pressure on Washington to cut ties with South Africa, writes Terri Taylor. 'The US is essentially a destabilising force in the region,' Jackson said. 'We have the option to be the hope of a free southern Africa and not to continuously misuse and abuse our power . ' 'We will dare to have an impact on American flreign policy.' he told his 32-member delegation of trade unionists, local politicians, businessmen, farmers and academics. Jackson, 42, shot to national prominence during the 1984 US presidential race, startling pollsters by taking 20 per cent of the vote in the democratic primaries. For Jackson, the trip to Africa is a natural extension of his civil rights' children who survived the poison cloud recover In hospital at Wum. waterfall boiled ' Then I woke up, and three of my four daughters were dead in the bed beside me .' Mrs Wandia is badly shocked, and has burns on both legs and one arm. Severe burns and respiratory infections are the most common oroblems affecting survivors. Dr Bert Oubre, an American physician working at Mbingu Baptist Hospital, had to carry out major surgery on one victim. ' Her hand was burned right down to the bone, and I had to amputate it,' he said. There are about 500 survivors being treated at nearby clinics and hospitals. Water in the area is still contaminated, so fresh water has to be brought in by tanker, as well as medical supplies. The Cameroonian .Government has set up a committee to coordinate' all the .relief items and donations coming into the country. The gas seems to have been strangely selective in its effect. In the village of Nyos, which is downhill from the lake, there were only two survivors, but in the more distant villages of Subum, Cha and Fang it is common to find households where one or two family members have survived while the rest perished. In many instances, the gas killed adults but spared children, and there are more than 100 orphans in the work under the tutelage of MartinLutherKingduringthe 1960s. At its worst, the mission was a logistical nightmare. From Brazzaville to Harare, the 707 jet laid on by Nigeria travelled on what came to be known as Jackson Standard Time. The entourage never arrived on schedule, once nearly forcing an emergency landing in Johannesburg, where the delegation had been denied South African visas . In Zambia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, Jackson met the continent's leading ideologues. In Lusaka, President Kaunda and Jackson wept openly for black Africa daring their speeches and prayed together at a church service punctuated by gospel singing as rhythmic and melodious as any in America's Deep South. At the home of elder statesman, Julius Nyerere's home in the Tanzanian outback, Jackson was told that if sanctions are not applied against South Africa soon, the frontline states will turn to the east-bloc for arms. 1 cQqBcm With just 500 invested in the Gateway Star 60 Account, your money earns extra high interest but never gets hopelessly tied up. Your investment earns a healthy 8.25 net p.a. basic rate income tax paid equal to 1 1 .62 grossto basic rate income tax payers). With 60 days' written notice of withdrawal there is no loss of interest whatsoever. You can withdraw your money however, on demand. Should you need someof your investment straight away, you only lose BOdays1 interest on thepart you takeout. Put your money in Star 60, the Star performanceaccountfrom Gateway. Tha thown may vvyind ti net ot liability to batuc rat income tax hospital at Wum. . Prof Barbed says there are two possible explanations for this. Firstly, the children may not have woken and panicked at the sound of an explosion or when smelling a strange odour, so their breathing while asleep remained regular. Secondly, the bodies of many adults were found outside houses. As the gas did not seep into better sealed houses so quickly, some of the children left inside escaped. A similar disaster occurred almost two years ago at Moumon, a volcano about .140 miles north-east of Mount Cameroon. Thirty-seven people died, and their bodies were found covered in burns. The Cameroon Government has not yet decided whether it should evacuate the entire region. As many of the people are nomadic, it would be a very difficult and expensive measure to take. Already some of the people who fled the immediate area around Lake Nyos are trying to return. A staff reporter adds: After a relatively slow start aid has been pouring into Cameroon from the - United States and the EEC. Britain has so far contributed 15,000 in immediate aid from its embassy in Yaounde, phis an additional 250,000 of tents, camp beds, antibiotics and baby food which arrived yesterday on a Boeing 707 chartered by the Disaster Relief Unit of the Overseas Development Agency. Another aircraft laden with aid and carrying three British scientists , is expected to leave Gatwick on Tuesday. GatyBuildingSocietyDutringtonLane, Worthing, West Sussex Indian jets poised tcy aid Mugabe by SHYAM BHATIA and MARTIN BAILEY ZIMBABWE has asked India for a squadron of MiG 218 with Indian pilots to defend the vital Beira corridor that links its capital Harare with the nearest seaport on the Indian Ocean. The defence of the corridor has become even more important now that Zimbabwe has decided to scrap its preferential trade agreement with South Africa. On the eve of the non-aligned countries summit in Harare, Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's Prune Minister, said frontline African states depending on South Africa should seek alternative export markets, new sources of supply and trade routes that bypass South Africa. Authoritative sources in Harare say a secret defence protocol has been drawn up for Rajiv Gandhi, the Indian Prime Minister, to consider while he is in Zimbabwe for the summit. He is known to be sympathetic to the idea even though Indian forces have never been deployed abroad in support of a foreign country's interests. In the early 1960s India and Egypt signed an agreement for the joint production of a jet fighter and although a prototype was built, the agreement was never fully implemented. India builds Soviet MiG fighters under licence in Bangalore and more than 200 are in service with the Indian Air Force. Moscow will have to approve any deal to station the jets in a foreign country. Gandhi, who favours stepped-up military assistance to frontline states, last week wrote to the Prime Ministers of Australia and Canada urging them to consider sending weapons to countries feeling threatened by South Africa. The request for Indian assistance was made during Gandhi's first visit to Zimbabwe last May. Mugabe told Gandhi then that he intended cutting trade and communications' lmks' with South' Africa. About 90 per cent of landlocked Zimbabwe's trade is channelled through South Afritand.etoria.still maintains! a trade mission in Harare, although it is likely to be shut down. There are daily flights between Harare and South African cities and these are at risk after the agreement on sanctions reached at the Commonwealth summit in London. Mugabe realises that cutting links with South Africa will " 1 - force him to rely entirely on the Beira Corridor which runs through neighbouring Mozambique and consists of a road, oil pipeline and single-track railway. South African-backed guerrillas regularly attack the corridor as part of a strategy to increase Zimbabwe's .dependence on its Soutbr African outlets. A task force of the Zimbabwean Army has been based in Chimoio, Mozambique, to assist in the war against the guerrillas, but their efforts have met with mixed results. Mugabe, according to Zimbabwean sources, has told Gandhi he wants six MjGs to be based at Chimoio andjhat six more could operate from an air base near Harare. A team of Indian pilots, is in Botswana to help set jip that country's air force 'and they could be moved over to Zimbabwe to form the nucleus of a larger Indian presence. Zimbabwe's air force consists of a few ageing British Hun- Gandhi: Sympathetic. ters. Pilots have been sent for training in China where they learn to Qy the equally ancient MiG 17 and MiG 19 fighters. During the struggle for Zimbabwean independence, the Indians placed their bets on the wrong horse by backing Joshua Nkomo, the head of Zapu, who is now in opposition. India's traditional rivals, Pakistan, were more far-, sighted and backed Mugabe. After independence, Zimbabwean air force personnel were trained -in Pakistan and until : last year a Pakistan tAir Force officer, Air Marshal" Izim Daudpota, was the head of Zimbabwe's air force. The Indians say privately ' they would like to assist Zimbabwe with a squadron of MiGs if only for the pleasure of dislodging Pakistan from any position of influence in Harare. .J nmm-mm BM132QH. - '.1 a; is i 1r

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