South Africa

Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has described as "positive" the South African government's apparent shift towards a policy of engagement with his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). The MDC in the past had been kept at arm's length by a South African government pursuing a policy of "quiet diplomacy" with President Robert Mugabe.

Twelve sugar cane farms in eastern South Africa have been torched and about 1,000 black families are occupying portions of 63 sugar farms in a land dispute that has turned violent, the 'Mail and Guardian' said on Thursday. The report said that police and soldiers have been on the farms since last week to protect the farmers and to patrol the land but had been unable to prevent the arson. It added that the arson was the latest manifestation of a bitter dispute pitting the farmers, who are more

The United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development scheduled to take place in Johannesburg, South Africa next September will cost more than 400 million rand, the equivalent of US$ 50 million, a joint meeting of Parliament's two environmental affairs committees heard on Tuesday.

South African investigators begin public hearings today into alleged corruption by senior politicians in the hugely controversial purchase of £4bn worth of weapons from European manufacturers. But scepticism about the effectiveness of the public protector's investigation - one of three by government agencies looking into the accusations of corruption - has grown as the African National Congress has sought to use its overwhelming majority in parliament to limit the political damage.

Political parties are not fair game for the press, senior advocate George Bizos told the Johannesburg High Court yesterday. Van Niekerk and Mda lodged the application in response to a statement made by senior ANC leader Jeff Radebe to the Human Rights Commission during its hearings on media racism last year. Radebe told the commission that Van Niekerk had authored a critical opinion piece on Thabo Mbeki, who was deputy president at the time, and published it under Mda's name.