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Zimbabwe election 'being rigged'
Zimbabwe's opposition leader has accused the ruling party of trying to
steal Thursday's elections.
Morgan Tsvangirai said "disgusting, massive fraud" had been committed
and said Zimbabweans should "defend their vote", without elaborating.
His Movement for Democratic Change has won 31 of the 39 seats declared
so far but these are mostly in urban areas, where it was expected to
President Robert Mugabe has dismissed claims of rigging as "nonsense".
The UK, the US and Germany have all condemned the election as "flawed".
A total of 120 seats are being contested, with another 30 MPs appointed
by the president.
The early results show the MDC retaining seats in its urban
strongholds, especially the capital, Harare and the second city,
Results are slower to come in from rural areas, where support for Mr
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party is strongest.
Average turnout was below 50%, chief elections officer Lovemore
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, which has some 6,000 observers
in the 8,000 polling stations, says that some 10% of would-be voters
were turned away, either because their names were not on the electoral
roll, they did not have the right identity papers, or they were in the
One man told the BBC News website that his name had been taken off the
register since the last election and yet the name of his aunt was still
there, although she had died six years ago.
Human rights groups say that hundreds of thousands of "ghost voters"
appear on the electoral roll of some 5.8m. They fear these entries could
be used to record fraudulent votes.
"We are deeply disturbed by the fraudulent activities we have
unearthed," Mr Tsvangirai said.
"We believe the people of Zimbabwe must defend their votes, their right
to a free and a fair election - this is what has been denied," he said.
The BBC's Themba Nkosi says the only surprise result so far is
Zanu-PF's victory in Harare South.
He says semi-rural areas were added to the constituency, which may
explain why Zanu-PF took the seat from the MDC.
ZESN head Reginald Matchaba-Hove told the BBC's Focus on Africa
programme that Thursday's voting process had been "smooth".
But he said the atmosphere had changed in the past few weeks, when
foreign observers started arriving, because previously, the opposition
had little access to state media and were not free to campaign.
On Thursday, police arrested two UK journalists working for the Sunday
Telegraph newspaper on charges of reporting on the country's election
without state accreditation, police said.
Mr Mugabe predicts that Zanu-PF will win a two-thirds majority in
parliament, which would allow it to change the constitution.
This could enable him to install a successor without immediately
calling elections, as presently required.
President Mugabe, 81, has led his party's campaign, although he has
said he will not seek re-election in the 2008 presidential election.
Voting across Zimbabwe
As Zimbabweans go to the polls to elect a new parliament, local
journalists report how the vote has gone around the country.
Because of strict media laws, the journalists did not want their names
to be used.
There were long queues of voters early in the morning, despite the
But by mid-afternoon, they had all but disappeared, leaving many
polling agents with very little to do.
I went to several polling stations where I found just a handful of
people casting their votes.
At one polling station in central Harare, there wasn't a single voter
in sight for about 10 minutes.
But where turnout was high, security was tight with at least three
police officers keeping an eye on proceedings at each polling station.
There were polling agents from both major parties in all the polling
stations I visited.
There has been no reports of any violence.
I have also seen lots of election observers from different countries.
In the low density areas, which used to be exclusively white, I only
saw a few white people waiting to queue.
Many have left the country in recent years.
Voting has been peaceful in Zimbabwe's second city, under the hot sun.
There are many more polling stations than in recent elections, so the
queues are not all that long, except in one or two areas.
Many of those in the queues were women and some of them told me they
were eager to have more women in parliament, as they were tired of being
ruled by men.
Police officers tell me there have been no arrests for political
However, an opposition MDC polling agent in the Insiza constituency
90km to the south, was abducted from his home village on Wednesday
night, as he prepared to go to his polling station.
There has been a lot of trouble in this area in recent years, after the
MDC won the seat in 2000.
Last week, ruling party activists told people that a vote for the MDC
would be a "Vote for starvation".
Some teachers, who are serving as polling officers have also complained
that they have been deployed away from the constituencies where they
have registered, so they will not be able to vote.
From Tsholotsho, north of Bulawayo, where controversial former
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo is running as an independent, there
have been no reports of any trouble.
Voting has been going on peacefully since 0700 local time (0500 GMT).
But there has been some confusion over new rules, under which voters
have to queue in different lines, according to their surnames.
Those who surnames start with A-L are in queue, those whose names start
with M are in another and those whose surnames begin with L-Z in a third
This has led to some disorderly scenes, with voters trying to find the
Many Zimbabweans have surnames starting with M and so this queue is the
longest, with people waiting for several hours to vote.
Some people have been going to different polling stations to find a
shorter M queue.
It looks as though voting may have to be extended until after 1900
local time (1700 GMT) to let those already in the queues cast their
Hundreds of people thronged outside polling stations two hours before
they opened, heeding a call from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)
to vote early.
People were anxious to vote. The queues were divided alphabetically and
there were many more polling stations so by 1000 local time (0800GMT),
most people had voted and the polling stations were largely empty.
No incidents of violence have been reported.
But some local election observers, who had official accreditation, were
denied access to some polling stations.
The ZEC has not commented.
In the afternoon I visited rural areas and there was just a trickle of
Soldiers are patrolling the streets of Masvingo in army trucks.
Polling agents from both major parties were represented at all of the
30 polling stations I visited.
Now people are keen to know the results.
I don't know if I would call these Darwin Awards. The "recipient" doesn't actually remove themselves from the gene pool in all of these scenarios. Silly people none the less.
>>Are there really people this stupid?....
>>Yes, it's that time of the year again when the Darwin Awards are bestowed,
>>honoring the least Evolved among us.
>>Darwin Award Winners:
>>1. When his 38-caliber revolver failed to fire at his intended victim
>>during a holdup in Long Beach, California, would be robber James Elliot
>>did something that can only inspire wonder. He peered down the barrel and
>>tried the trigger again. This time it worked..... And now, the honorable
>>2. The chef at a hotel in Switzerland lost a finger in a meat cutting
>>machine and, after a little hopping around, submitted a claim to his
>>insurance company. The company expecting negligence, sent out one of its
>>men to have a look for himself. He tried the machine and lost a finger.
>>The chef's claim was
>>3. A man who shoveled snow for an hour to clear a space for his car during
>>a blizzard in Chicago returned with his Vehicle to find a woman had taken
>>the space. Understandably, he shot her.
>>4. After stopping for drinks at an illegal bar, a Zimbabwean bus driver
>>found that the 20 mental patients he was supposed to be transporting from
>>Harare to Bulawayo had escaped. Not wanting to admit his incompetence, the
>>driver went to a nearby bus stop and offered everyone waiting there a free
>>ride. He then delivered the passengers to the mental hospital, telling the
>>staff that the patients were very excitable and prone to bizarre
>>fantasies. The deception wasn't discovered for 3 days.
>>5. An American teenager was in the hospital recovering from serious head
>>wounds received from an oncoming train. When asked how he
>>injuries, the lad told police that he was simply trying to see how close
>>he could get his head to a moving train before he was hit.
>>6. A man walked into a Louisiana Circle-K, put a $20 bill on the counter,
>>and asked for change. When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the man
>>pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register, which the clerk
>>promptly provided. The man took the cash from the clerk and fled, leaving
>>the $20 bill on the counter. The total amount of cash he got from the
>>drawer...$15. (If someone points a gun at you and gives you money, is a
>>7. Seems an Arkansas guy wanted some beer pretty badly. He decided that
>>he'd just throw a cinder block through a liquor store window, grab some
>>booze, and run. So he lifted the cinder block and heaved it over his head
window. The cinder block bounced back and hit the would-be thief on
>>the head, knocking him unconscious. The liquor store window was made of
>>Plexiglas. The whole event was caught on videotape.
>>8. As a female shopper exited a New York convenience store, a man grabbed
>>her purse and ran. The clerk called 911 immediately, and the woman was
>>able to give them a detailed description of the snatcher. Within minutes,
>>the police apprehended the snatcher. They put him in the car and drove
>>back to the store. The thief was then taken out of the car and told to
>>stand there for a positive ID. To which he replied, "Yes, officer, that's
>>her. That's the lady I stole the purse from."
>>9. The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man walked into a
>>Burger King in Ypsilanti, Michigan, at 5 a.m., flashed a gun, and demanded
clerk turned him down because he said he couldn't open the cash
>>register without a food order. When the man ordered onion rings, the clerk
>>said they weren't available for breakfast. The man, frustrated, walked
>>And Number 10, the 5-STAR STUPIDITY AWARD WINNER!
>>10. When a man attempted to siphon gasoline from a motor home parked on a
>>Seattle street, he got much more than he bargained for. Police arrived at
>>the scene to find a very sick man curled up next to a motor home near
>>spilled sewage. A police spokesman said that the man admitted to trying
>>to steal gasoline and plugged his siphon hose into the motor home's sewage
>>tank by mistake. The owner of the vehicle declined to press charges,
>>saying that it was the best laugh he'd ever had.
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Glimmer of Hope for Embattled African Lake
World Resources Institute (Washington, DC)
April 1, 2005
Posted to the web April 1, 2005
Unsustainable utilization practices on Lake Chiuta - which is shared by
the two Southern African states of Malawi and Mozambique - and the poor
state of policing and control of fishing activities have led to
conservation conflicts which are rocking the management of the African
A glimmer of hope, however, appears more evident as a result of
continued consultations by authorities among communities that derive
benefits from lake that lies on the frontier of the two countries.
The local conflicts have arisen from differences over the management of
the Lake by fisheries authorities from the two neighboring countries.
While Malawi is implementing conservation efforts to ensure sustainable
fisheries management, the Mozambique side is relatively unchecked. The
scenario has created fears that the lake resources will be subjected to
over-exploitation, resulting in reduced fish stocks in the long run.
While Malawi and Mozambique share Lake Chiuta, the fishing policies and
regulations for the two countries are different and the two countries
have different enforcement capacities. This has been another source of
conflict as there have been contentions on such issues as fish species,
fish sizes to catch, close seasons, demarcated fish sanctuaries, net
gear size and type as well as methods of fishing.
"Since the advent of colonial rule, fisheries management in Malawi has
been based on a centralized approach," said Friday Njaya, Divisional
Fisheries Manager for Southern Malawi. "Management decisions have been
made with little or no consultation with the user community. Biological
consideration informed much of the policy, legislative and resource
Starting in 1994, however, there has been renewed interest in the
involvement of local communities in fisheries management through
participation. One outcome of the Lake Chiuta crisis has been the
formation of community based fisheries management committee such as
Beach Village Committee (BVC) and Fisheries Association (FA), among
These communal groups have been formed in all the three major lake
areas of Malawi. This follows the recent passing of a new Fisheries
Management Act that provides for the establishment of co-management
initiatives and, through a decentralization policy, allocates activities
to be done at district level. The fisheries co-management program has
been a model example where local communities involved in the management
of fisheries resources can help change the situation for the better.
According to Transborder Dialogue, the official newsletter of the
Southern Africa Network for Transboundary Natural Resources Management
(TBNRM), the countries sharing the lake have their own policies and
regulations governing the use and management of fisheries resources in
Lake Chiuta. Fishermen have therefore tended to take advantage of the
side where regulations are regarded "weak."
"Before the collaborative management approach," said Village chief
Asibu Saute Ngokwe, "communities were being undermined when it came to
discussing issues in their localities. Organization came to implement
activities without consulting the village leaders. What they did not
realize is that as leaders we can resolve our problems. All we want is
to be given a chance to choose our own destiny."
A recent community dialogue between Malawi and Mozambique that was
convened by the Malawi Fisheries department has demonstrated that
community involvement is helpful in deriving solutions to natural
resources management. The dialogue was aimed at developing a common
approach to resolving the conflict and identifying community level
institutions that will implement and monitor agreed strategies. The
communities recognized the different fishing practices used in both
countries, including the use of different types of nets.
After years of tension over fishing practices and access to resources
along the lake, local fisherman from the two sides have agreed on
strategies for their respective countries that promise to deliver a
common approach to fisheries management in Lake Chiuta.
Only through transborder local dialogues have these two communities
begun to resolve this issue and wait for further discussions at policy
and ministerial levels. Because local communities have been intimately
involved in the identification of problems and the development of
solutions, this network will act as a case study in addressing further
border disputes in southern Africa.
Observers back Mugabe party's win
Southern African observers have endorsed the parliamentary election in
Zimbabwe, which was won by President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF
The Southern African Development Community said the vote reflected the
will of the people, but other monitors said it was neither free nor
The outcome gives Zanu-PF a two-thirds parliamentary majority that
enables Mr Mugabe to amend the constitution.
The opposition claimed the poll was rigged and called for fresh
The US has led international criticism of Thursday's ballot.
But correspondents say President Mugabe will be concerned only with
Sadc observers said the poll was "peaceful, transparent, credible and
well managed", although they expressed concern at the opposition's lack
of access to state-owned media.
African Union observers were cautious. Delegation chief Kwadwo
Afari-Gyano said the vote was "technically competent and transparent"
but noted serious problems with the electoral roll.
Many of the observers which were critical of previous elections were
not invited back for this poll.
Zanu-PF won 78 of the 120 contested seats and the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) picked up 41 seats.
Under Zimbabwean law, Mr Mugabe has the power to appoint another 30 MPs
in the 150-seat chamber, giving Zanu-PF a two-thirds majority.
He said in an interview that he many now increase the size of
parliament from 150 MPs to more than 200.
The MDC has dismissed the poll as a fraud, citing evidence of ballot
stuffing and highlighting flaws in the electoral system.
The party is questioning more than a quarter of the results.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai called for a new ballot under a new
"As long as we run elections under the same set of conditions, there is
no way that elections will be free and fair," spokesman William Bango
Mr Tsvangirai's spokesman said the leader would pursue a programme of
He said the party would not mount a legal challenge because it had
proved futile in the previous poll - but the MDC had not ruled out mass
action and protests.
Zanu-PF has rejected the opposition's accusations of a flawed vote.
"These were the most free and fair elections in the world," Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa told the BBC.
In 2000, Zanu-PF won a majority of seats but fell short of a two-thirds
majority which allows the constitution to be changed.
Mr Mugabe has long said he wanted to amend the constitution to
establish a second parliamentary chamber.
Critics accuse him of wanting to pack the chamber with his own
supporters to extend his influence after he retires.
Mugabe plans to scrap dual elections
Johannesburg, South Africa
04 April 2005 08:20
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe plans to scrap holding separate
presidential and parliamentary elections, he said in an interview with
South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) television on Sunday
"I've never believed it was a better system to have a presidential
election on its own and a parliamentary election on its own," he said
following his victory in that country's parliamentary election on
The main opposition party has slammed the elections as being
"If the president is not good even after one term, they can vote
against [him or her]," he said.
He also plans to introduce more MPs and a two-tier system.
"At the moment, it's 150 [MPs] but I think we can bring it up to about
200 and also have a two-tier system, a Lower House and an Upper House,"
Mugabe told the SABC the changes will be along the lines of the draft
Constitution rejected in January 2000.
He attributed his Zanu-PF party's victory to its age and revolutionary
nature, as well as to the commitment of its members.
"We are a much older, much more revolutionary party. We have definite
principles which we follow and that guide us. We have a membership that
is permanent and committed to us," Mugabe said.
He said the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is based
purely on opposition.
"You can't just be negative," he said.
The MDC is still finding "its own ground, if it will find it at all",
Asked about his plans for national reconciliation, Mugabe encouraged
debate between his party and the MDC.
In Parliament, as well as outside, the members of the two parties are
free to debate and discuss.
"Should they [the MDC] have any ideas they believe in sincerely ...
that will help us to move forward constructively and economically
improve the lot of our people, fine, they will be very welcome to bring
those ideas to us," he said.
Turning to the country's economic situation, Mugabe said that because
of the drought, Zimbabwe will need to import maize once again.
"We have the money to do so," he said.
Asked how he plans to turn his country's sagging economy around, Mugabe
said that foreign currency must be made available to the mining sector.
The "corruption and dirt" in the financial sector -- some of it harking
back to colonial days -- will have to be looked at "very sternly and
He hopes to have inflation back to double digits by the end of 2005.
Asked how he plans to improve his relations with the European Union,
and those countries that had imposed embargoes against Zimbabwe, Mugabe
told the SABC that he has not offended anyone.
"We are more sinned against than sinning ... We have been put into the
dark by Mr Blair [British Prime Minister Tony Blair], for his own
reasons. It's a very unfair act, indeed, to us," he said.
To the rest of the world he said that Zimbabwe is what it is.
"We can't change. We can't agree to become puppets either," he added.
Asked by the SABC about his country's media laws, which require
journalists to register with the government, Mugabe said they are "good
"I don't think our system would prevent a genuine journalist from
becoming registered. Let people register, but don't deny them
registration. I don't see any reason why we must deny them, unless, they
are proved to be bitter enemies of the party."
Mugabe described Pope John Paul II as a virtuous man whose preachings
on peace need to be heeded worldwide.
He was "a very virtuous man, a virtuous leader of the Catholic Church,
and we do hope that all that he has preached about will continue to be
heeded by communities throughout the world".
Small nations such as Zimbabwe fear "the bullies of this world", and
Mugabe expressed the hope that big nations will heed the pope's lessons
on peace. -- Sapa
Malawi president 'a bad choice'
Former President Bakili Muluzi has apologised to Malawians for choosing
a successor who has turned against him.
Current President Bingu wa Mutharika was proposed by Mr Muluzi as the
United Democratic Front candidate in the 2004 presidential elections.
But he resigned from the UDF after a bitter political tussle and is now
launching his own political party.
President Mutharika accuses Mr Muluzi of thwarting his high-profile
"Let me apologise to the country for the choice of Bingu wa Mutharika
and imposing him on the country," Mr Muluzi told a political rally in
the capital, Lilongwe.
"I didn't know he would be accommodating dissenting views," he said.
Mr Muluzi, who remains extremely influential within the UDF, chose Mr
Mutharika as presidential candidate after parliament rejected his
attempt to amend the constitution to allow him to stand for a third
The BBC's Raphael Tenthani says it is the first time Mr Muluzi has
admitted imposing a successor on his party and suggests the gloves have
now come off in their worsening row.
No party has a majority in the 193-member parliament, but the UDF is
believed to be considering impeaching the president.
Eriko and I are very happy to announce the birth of
our daughter, Hanako Kathleen Patten, who was born at
3:15 am on Sunday, April 3rd at Takarazuka City
Hospital in Hyogo, Japan. In the photos below she is
about 45 minutes old. There will be many more. She
also got over the squished baby look relatively
In my usual self-indulgent and overly verbose,
although not altogether insufferable way, I also
attached as a word document the play by play if you
would like the details. And there are many.
For those of my friends in Afghanistan, I will be back
on the 24th. Yes, it will be hard to be away from the
new family, but it will be ok. The poet Frost once
said happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in
length. I can scarcely believe I could be this lucky,
and we could hardly love the little girl more.
John and Eriko
Ps- who am I kidding? I canft get this attached as a
word doc because everything is in Japanese on this
computer and I almost sent you all the tax records
instead. At least I got the photos on. Why donft I
just add the text below:
The contractions every ten minutes started about four
days before the actual birth. Itfs not like an
episode of Friends where the water breaks and the baby
is out after the Taco Bell commercial. That night
fortunately we could stay home so she could get some
rest, but she did have to spend two agonizing days
before the birth in the hospital anyway. A guy never
feels less powerful than when his wife is having
contractions, as there is not much to be done about
it. I offered to get the parking validated, but I
guess they donft do that here. The best you can do is
be quiet and not say anything too controversial or
provocative such as, gHow are you doing?h
Around that time I started to have what I thought were
sympathy stomach pains, but confirmed later it was
actually the Shabu-shabu pork, despite my love for
Japanese food. I had to take something for it, because
the last thing I wanted in the delivery room was to
walk into my worst fear as an extra on the set of
gScrubs,h on my back on the floor staring up at the
bright lights. gSumimasen, can somebody please get
this gaijin off the floor?h
The suffering in the holding room of mothers in labor
is something out of Dantefs Inferno. I donft see how
the hospital tent at the Battle of Gettysburg could
have seen much more wailing. Wefve been
rocket-attacked in Afghanistan and I can say without
hyperbole that this was a million-times worse. I think
all twelve year-old boys should be required to sit in
for a day on the NICU rotation. The hospital staff was
professional, if a little severe in my eyes. After
four days awake all night I asked for an epidural for
myself and they did not see the humor in it.
The cultural things have generally gone fine, although
sometimes I forget to immediately take my shoes off
when bringing home groceries or such, and it creates a
Godzilla-like-related panic. I did want to try this
one restaurant somewhere I couldnft find while Eriko
is in the hospital. It translates to something like
gNothing but Whale.h Try starting that franchise in
L.A. Those whales have been a bit smug for my taste
lately anyway, plus anything that would piss-off PETA
has to be a good thing. If chickens werenft so stupid
and were cuter or had a better publicist maybe they
would have their own bumper sticker too. But I
While the actual birth was one of the most amazing and
emotional experiences of my life, the three days
leading up to it were among the most upsetting. It
leads me to believe that all births should be run
through a clandestine government agency that has the
technology to where we can transfer the happy young
fetus to that big plexi-glass tube of green liquid
like on the X-Files. If we ever get to vote on that,
all I could probably add is, gSo where do you plug
this thing in?h I mean, we could leave the other way
to giraffes and other mammals, because they seem to be
able to handle easier cranking out a six-foot walking,
talking giraffe, or wildebeest, or water buffalo, etc.
If ours didnft have to kick their way into this world
screaming and bloody, we could just lift them out of
the warm water more fully formed with less shock, and
maybe they would just motion for a sweater or
something. It was pretty amazing to witness though and
itfs permanently burned into my memory. When shefs
17 and denting my car and inquiring how I got to be
such a bonehead, I can use my gI pulled you into this
world in the first seconds of your lifeh card. Itfs
a good thing I remembered the batteries for my digital
camera for proof.
The birth itself went mostly quickly and ok after
Hanako nearly killed my wife, but was not without
itfs scary moments. She was too big to drop easily
during the labor, and got an abcess on her head from
trying to push past the pelvic bone. When she did
finally come out, the hard labor had wrapped the cord
tightly twice around her neck and it got pretty dicey
for a moment. She was blue at first, but they made a
cut, got her out quickly and got the blood flowing,
and it appears no permanent damage was done as she
wasnft long like that. Although, if in twenty years
she turns out like me people may always question.
We thought the baby would be visibly upset with the
harsh eviction from her previous dwelling, but after
all it was the third of the month by then and later
she was pretty calm; kind of like, geh, this ainft
bad, I have a lot more room now.h What they donft
tell you in the all the beautiful hype of the baby
books is that birth, after the whole magical,
spiritual, yada yada part, is a horrible, horrible
enterprise. Everything is so fragile I honestly donft
know how six-billion of us got through it, let alone
the succeeding days.
You know what surprised me though? The fact that she
looks so much like me and a western baby. I honestly
thought she would be darker. She has deep blue-steel
eyes, and light brownish hair. Itfs ok though, some
of my best friends are white, but it was still a shock
to see what I may have partly looked like. Of course
shefs beautiful to me, but she might end up actually
being too cute, in which case we really have to
develop her mind more so she doesnft end up on one of
those Japanese game shows, wearing pink, frilly stuff
and screaming gWho is the receiva? Let loose the
cannons!h The only reason I went on the Hollywood
Squares was because I needed money for grad school. I
donft even want to think of what happens at 16 and
she starts dating. Actually letfs make that 17 and a
half. It will take the poor guy that long to get the
paperwork and labs through processing. I know guys,
and I used to be one. If she wants to date someone
like me she can do it on her own time after she moves
In what could have been a life of surfeit or excess,
which has its own benefits, itfs good to know that
life still has the ability to surprise you. With
turning 40, new baby, career going well, itfs
certainly been a milestone year for us, in a long life
of interesting experiences. It seems like one of those
pivotal moments where things can be measured as
everything that came before and everything that came
after. At least until Ifm 85 and can tell those damn
kids to get away from my geraniums. But then my
darling 45 year-old daughter can bring me a beer on
the porch laughing and tell me Papi chill out, this
ainft the labor ward yaf know!
We are truly blessed.
"Think of where man's glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had
such friends." Yeats
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Hi again folks,
We have been so happy lately that I forgot to give a
more complete update on Eriko's condition. I should
thank one of my friends for pointing that out as I was
typing in the middle of the night, being the excited
proud papa just coming back again from the hospital.
The fact is we're just both so relieved that baby and
mother are doing well, and Eriko was of course visibly
relieved immediately after the birth.
Eriko really did suffer, and all our attention was
with her constantly in the days before and certainly
now the days after. When Erikofs water broke, it was
still 8 hours before Hanako was born. Itfs usually
1-2 hours after. Erikofs body gave out to exhaustion
after four days with no sleep and she couldnft have
the contractions anymore, plus the baby's heart rate
went down, so she had to start the IV drugs to induce
the labor. They almost had to do an emergency
C-Section, but surprisingly enough at that point she
had a normal and relatively quick birth once moved to
the delivery room and the contractions came back. I
was sitting with her every minute, but it was hard not
being able to do much and watch her go through that.
Ifm happy to report three days on Eriko is doing fine
and recovering, and is as much the focus of our
attention as our cute little girl. Eriko seems very
happy now and comfortable in the hospital here as she
can really communicate with the other mothers and
staff about what they are all going through. She's
pretty stoic anyway, but if you were to ask her if
there is any post-partum depression, she'd probably
say "What, are kidding me?"
Here they let you stay a week, which is what she
wanted, to get the proper care after such a difficult
time. In any case she will still be there until the
9th, but I go every day for the maximum time they
The name Hanako is very traditional Japanese and means
spring flower, which she is. Kathleen is my mother's
name and she has been of such primary importance in
all of our lives, it's good that it seemed to fit so
well with Hanako.
All for now, thanks for listening to our (my) excited
"Think of where man's glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had
such friends." Yeats
Show us what our next emoticon should look like. Join the fun.
MDC cries foul after counting votes
Terry Leonard | Johannesburg, South Africa
06 April 2005 12:26
Zimbabwe's main opposition party said on Wednesday an investigation
into last week's parliamentary election indicates massive electoral
fraud in at least 30 seats won by the ruling Zanu-PF party.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said in 11
races the winning Zanu-PF candidate got more votes in the official
returns than the government's own electoral commission said were cast in
In each case, the MDC said its candidate had an unassailable lead,
polling more than half the official total of votes cast.
However, the official returns showed 183 000 more votes than the
electoral commission said were cast.
"This election was stolen. The results are in no way an accurate
reflection of the sovereign wishes of the people of Zimbabwe," MDC
spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi said in a statement.
President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party was declared the winner of 78
of Parliament's 120 elected seats. The MDC got 41 seats and one seat
went to an independent candidate, former information minister Jonathan
Moyo. Under Zimbabwe law, Mugabe appoints another 30 MPs.
Nyathi said the MDC limited its analysis to the 30 seats because the
electoral commission refused to release figures for other races, a
decision he said "indicates widespread irregularities" in those other
In races in urban areas where the MDC was widely expected to hold its
seats, Nyathi said very few discrepancies were identified.
"This raises further suspicions that there was a calculated plan to
ensure that the MDC won a sufficient number of seats to provide the
electoral process, and the end result, with a veneer of legitimacy,"
The MDC comparison of official final returns in the 30 races with the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's official numbers for votes cast found
what Nyathi called "serious and unaccountable gaps" between the two
figures. In the 30 races alone, if found it could not account for more
than 183 000 ballots.
Nyathi said the preliminary findings have been submitted to observer
missions from South Africa and the Southern African Development
"Regrettably, these observer missions have so far shown a chronic lack
of interest in such compelling statistics and instead have maintained
their respective positions that the elections reflected the 'will of the
people'," said Nyathi.
South Africa's mission endorsed the election despite serious objections
of some mission members. South African President Thabo Mbeki, government
officials and some observers had said ahead of the poll they saw no
reason why it would not be free and fair.
The United States and Britain, which were not among the observers
hand-picked by Mugabe to assess the election, condemned the vote and
said the process had been tilted heavily in favour of the ruling party.
Both countries participated in the diplomatic observer mission in
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the elections "were
fundamentally flawed and further weaken Mugabe's legitimacy".
"Some say this is about Africa versus the West. It is not," said Straw.
"It is about democracy versus dictatorship. Other Africans, too, have
been saying enough is enough." -- Sapa-AP
Zanu-PF threatens to seize companies
Michael Hartnack | Harare, Zimbabwe
06 April 2005 02:26
President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party has threatened to seize
commercial companies it says are trying to provoke food riots in the
wake of last week's parliamentary elections.
"Some of the manufacturers could have unilaterally increased prices
with the ulterior motive of inducing people to blame the government and
trigger food riots," the head of the party's women's league, Nyasha
Chikwinya, said in an article published on Wednesday in the state-owned
daily newspaper, The Herald.
Trade Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi issued a statement saying
manufacturers and retailers who had raised prices of staples such as
sugar, salt, soap and cooking oil by up to 25% since the March 31 poll
"should revert to previous levels because the increases were not
"We have been understudying the running of the companies from the days
of  food riots and shortages. Enough is enough. This cannot go on
any longer," said Chikwinya.
In 2002, reacting to foreign pressure, the government stopped militants
from invading companies after the seizure of 5 000 white-owned farms.
Some of the invaded premises belonged to South African subsidiaries,
protected by international investment agreements.
The government has been failing for months to set new maximum prices in
the face of hyperinflation, which reached 620% last year before falling
back to an official 127% in March -- a figure many economists question.
Despite the country's chronic economic problems, with 70% unemployment
and 3,8-million of Zimbabwe's 11,6-million population now living abroad,
Zanu-PF claimed 78 parliamentary seats in last week's elections,
compared to 41 for the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
With Mugabe nominating a further 30 in the 150-seat parliament, he may
now amend the constitution at will.
Chikwinya said that under Zanu-PF management of the seized companies,
"we will produce good results and shame our detractors".
Appealing for an end to panic buying and hoarding, Mumbengegwi said
temporary absence of maize meal from stores was a result of temporary
"logistical problems" and "millers were now bringing the situation under
Mugabe (81), in power since the country won independence from Britain
in 1980, alleges Zimbabwe's economic problems stem from British
reprisals for his "fast track" redistribution of former white farms. But
critics say he has undermined production and exports, using agitation
for land reform as a smoke screen to intimidating opposition.
On the eve of the elections, his government raised the national
statutory minimum wage tenfold to Z$950,000 (about R128) a month, a move
unions predicted would lead to increased unemployment and illicit use of
child labour. -- Sapa-AP
Political violence shakes up Zanzibar
06 April 2005 11:11
Arsonists set fire to a Zanzibari opposition leader's home and
protesters attempted to raid a voter registration centre, as violence
flared months ahead of elections in the semi-autonomous archipelago.
The Zanzibar Electoral Commission suspended a voter registration drive
on Monday in Zanzibar town, the Indian Ocean archipelago's biggest town,
to try to calm rising tensions between ruling and opposition party
loyalists. The drive had begun on Sunday.
General elections in predominantly Muslim Zanzibar are scheduled for
October 23, and the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi, or Revolutionary Party,
is expected to face a stiff challenge from the opposition Civic United
Front. The ruling party labels opposition supporters Muslim
secessionists, while the opposition says the ruling party represents
only the interests of the mainland, which is largely Christian and
But suspending the registration drive appeared to do little to ease
tensions, and early on Tuesday, attackers used gasoline to set fire to
the home of Civic United Front leader Abbas Muhunzi, said George
Kizugutu, a senior police officer.
Muhunzi, his wife and five children escaped unhurt, although his
elderly father was beaten by assailants with iron bars. Neighbours said
the attackers were youths who wore red T-shirts and black trousers.
"It seems now Zanzibar is experiencing a kind of political bonfire,"
said Muhunzi, a member of Zanzibar's House of Representatives. He
appealed to the government to intervene and end "political thuggery" in
Zanzibar before "things get out of control".
Later on Tuesday, more than 400 people attempted to invade a suburban
registration centre, but were beaten back by police, said Rashid Ali
Suluhu, an election officer.
Police were investigating the attempted arson and remained on "alert"
on Tuesday night, setting up roadblocks in some areas.
Zanzibar, which united with the mainland to form the United Republic of
Tanzania in 1964, elects its own president and legislature.
The last vote, in 2000, was marred by irregularities, voter
intimidation and politically motivated violence.
Ruling and opposition party supporters have since become decidedly more
militant, with the government creating paramilitary militias to ensure
order and the opposition reportedly establishing "self-defence forces."
In recent months, six people have been killed in political violence.
Riot police have taken to marching through Zanzibar town, singing
martial songs in a show of force they say is meant to deter political
violence, but opposition leaders see as an attempt to intimidate their
The police were recently deployed from mainland Tanzania, where most
people are Christian. -- Sapa-AP
Mozambique: New Cholera Vaccine Shows Promise
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
April 5, 2005
Posted to the web April 5, 2005
The success of the first mass immunisation campaign against cholera in
Mozambique's port city of Beira has prompted calls for greater access to
the oral vaccine.
From December 2003 to January 2004 about 50,000 residents in the poor
district of Esturro received two successive weekly doses of the oral
cholera vaccine, rBS-WC.
Researchers then assessed the effectiveness of the vaccine during an
outbreak in Beira between January and May 2004 and found that it was
highly effective, protecting between 78 and 84 percent of the recipients
from cholera for six months, with 50 percent being protected for three
Needle-administered cholera vaccines have generally provided about 50
percent protection for just two months. None of the 20 people who died
during the outbreak had received the vaccine.
Cholera is endemic in Mozambique and during the rainy season the cities
of Maputo and Beira are usually worst affected.
Researchers noted that while similar studies carried out in Bangladesh
and Peru had shown promise, the Mozambique trial was the first to target
a population with high HIV prevalence - around 30 percent. They inferred
from their findings that the vaccine could be effective in people with
the HI virus.
The high cost of the vaccine - US $2 per dose - and a lack of evidence
that it would work in people whose immune systems were compromised by
HIV had previously deterred researchers from using the new vaccine in
"The oral cholera vaccine could be an important tool for Mozambique in
the next two to three years, particularly in areas where populations are
at high risk of cholera, and where there is a high prevalence of people
living with HIV/AIDS. It can give these people new hope," coordinator of
the trials Marcelino Lucas told IRIN.
However, Lucas pointed out the study had not included HIV testing and
further research and monitoring was needed to assess the safety of the
vaccine among HIV-positive people.
Although cholera awareness campaigns are instrumental in preventing the
spread of the disease, they have had a limited impact because of poor
access to proper sanitation facilities and clean water.
The cholera bacterium, spread mainly through contaminated water or
food, causes severe diarrhoea and dehydration. Epidemics are linked to
poor hygiene, overcrowding, inadequate sanitation and unsafe water.
Despite government efforts, around 74 percent of Mozambique's rural
population does not have access to safe drinking water; access to
potable water in urban areas is slightly better, but more than half the
people living in towns and cities are without adequate sanitation.
Lucas said financing a sustainable supply of the vaccine was critical,
as the success of oral vaccines in Mozambique meant that much-needed
resources, previously spent on caring for the sick, could instead be
used for strengthening cholera prevention measures.
Just thought it might be amusing to report that Rob and myself (Malawi
94-96) have finally wired the wooden lamp bases that we purchased so long
ago in Malawi. Prior to getting married, we each had two craved lamps...Now,
a mere ten years later they are functioning and proudly displayed in our
home. I think this might rank up there, right after renovated home and
second child (ha ha ha).
Anyway hope everyone is well. Congratulations to John and his lovely ladies.
Congratulations! That's wonderful!! I'm glad your wife
and baby are doing well!
On Tue, 5 Apr 2005 19:42:15 -0700 (PDT)
John Patten <jppatten98@...> wrote:
> Hi again folks,
> We have been so happy lately that I forgot to give a
> more complete update on Eriko's condition. I should
> thank one of my friends for pointing that out as I was
> typing in the middle of the night, being the excited
> proud papa just coming back again from the hospital.
> The fact is we're just both so relieved that baby and
> mother are doing well, and Eriko was of course visibly
> relieved immediately after the birth.
> Eriko really did suffer, and all our attention was
> with her constantly in the days before and certainly
> now the days after. When Eriko?fs water broke, it was
> still 8 hours before Hanako was born. It?fs usually
> 1-2 hours after. Eriko?fs body gave out to exhaustion
> after four days with no sleep and she couldn?ft have
> the contractions anymore, plus the baby's heart rate
> went down, so she had to start the IV drugs to induce
> the labor. They almost had to do an emergency
> C-Section, but surprisingly enough at that point she
> had a normal and relatively quick birth once moved to
> the delivery room and the contractions came back. I
> was sitting with her every minute, but it was hard not
> being able to do much and watch her go through that.
> I?fm happy to report three days on Eriko is doing fine
> and recovering, and is as much the focus of our
> attention as our cute little girl. Eriko seems very
> happy now and comfortable in the hospital here as she
> can really communicate with the other mothers and
> staff about what they are all going through. She's
> pretty stoic anyway, but if you were to ask her if
> there is any post-partum depression, she'd probably
> say "What, are kidding me?"
> Here they let you stay a week, which is what she
> wanted, to get the proper care after such a difficult
> time. In any case she will still be there until the
> 9th, but I go every day for the maximum time they
> allow me.
> The name Hanako is very traditional Japanese and means
> spring flower, which she is. Kathleen is my mother's
> name and she has been of such primary importance in
> all of our lives, it's good that it seemed to fit so
> well with Hanako.
> All for now, thanks for listening to our (my) excited
> "Think of where man's glory most begins and ends, and
>say my glory was I had such friends." Yeats
> Yahoo! Messenger
> Show us what our next emoticon should look like. Join
> Yahoo! Groups Links
Reports deepen doubt over Zim election
07 April 2005 08:10
Two reports issued on Wednesday reinforced concern that Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party won last week's
parliamentary election through fraud.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change
gave evidence of what it said was "serious and unaccountable gaps" with
more than 200 000 votes unaccounted for in the announcement of official
results before and after counting ballots last week.
Another report by 35 teams of observers from the United States embassy
said there were "several patterns of irregularities" that raised concern
about the freeness and fairness of the process.
It spoke of the "improper role" of uniformed police and ruling-party
polling agents in the supervision and conduct of polling stations,
taking control from officials of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC), which was supposed to run the elections.
Police and Zanu-PF polling agents were counting votes in polling
stations and communicating results to regional centres, and presiding
officers confiscated notes from MDC polling agents and independent
observers, it said.
Some polling stations were "associated with the distribution of food",
Zanu-PF was given 78 seats in Parliament, while 41 went to the MDC. An
independent, former information minister Jonathan Moyo, got one seat.
With another unelected 30 seats appointed by Mugabe through a
constitutional provision, the ruling party received a landslide of more
than two-thirds of the 150-seat Parliament.
The poll has been condemned by United Nations Secretary General Kofi
Annan as well as the United States, British and Australian governments,
but it was pronounced "the legitimate expression of the will of the
people of Zimbabwe" by observer delegations from South Africa and the
14-nation Southern African Development Community.
Also on Wednesday, the MDC said "scores of party supporters had been
injured, some of whom were in hospital, after winning Zanu-PF led their
supporters in attacks of retribution around the country".
Nyathi said in a statement that MDC supporters had been attacked in at
least five constituencies, in one of which a Zanu-PF MP opened fire with
a pistol on a group, several people had their property destroyed by mobs
and at least one had his home burnt down.
MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube said copies of the MDC's
preliminary report on the discrepancies in voting numbers, as well of
videotapes of official election announcements on state television and in
copies of a local newspaper, were given on Wednesday morning to the ZEC,
which is appointed by Mugabe.
Late on Thursday night while votes were still being counted, a senior
ZEC official broadcast the total number of ballots cast in 72
constituencies. The announcements stopped at about midnight without
The next morning, however, the ZEC began broadcasting the results of
the count. Immediately, discrepancies emerged when the number of votes
for each candidate were added together and compared with the figures of
a few hours earlier.
"The MDC and the people know full well who the real winners are," said
MDC spokesperson Paul Nyathi. "This election was stolen." -- Sapa-DPA
Illegal Gun Manufacture Flourishing in Tanzania
The East African (Nairobi)
April 4, 2005
Posted to the web April 6, 2005
In spite of the restriction put on the manufacture of firearms in
Tanzania, authorities said last week that they have established that
illegal manufacturing, especially of handmade "Gobore guns" has been
The EastAfrican learnt that, up to 1967, muzzle-loading guns commonly
known as Gobore were being legally manufactured. Currently, Tanzania
does not manufacture firearms and does not provide firearms
manufacturing licenses, but it produces ammunition at Mzinga, in
"But the situation has changed in that, illicit manufacturing has been
going on and the quality of the Gobore gun has improved to a standard
that it can now use modern types of ammunition, said Dominic Hayuma,
senior assistant commissioner of police and also the co-ordinator of
Tanzania's national focal point on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW).
He however did not say in which parts of the country these guns were
being manufactured or how many were in the country.
Authorities have, however, recovered some Gobores.
Experts say Tanzania needs to change legislation relating to Gobores to
conform to international conventions, and to transfer administrative
procedures of handling and controlling muzzle-loading guns from local
governments, which have failed to keep records and control the illicit
circulation of the guns to the police.
Tanzania has since 2001 destroyed 5,773 firearms recovered in five
locations across the country. The destruction includes burning the
firearms and cutting the metal part into pieces using a gun cruncher.
"In future, we intend to destroy the firearms in the region where we
find them," said Mr Hayuma, adding, "We will be visiting all regions and
destroying all confiscated guns there, because we are now equipped with
the necessary facilities."
Between 1995 and 2000, the Tanzania police was recovering an average of
400 firearms annually. But after the establishment of a national action
plan in 2001 to fight illicit arms - a plan that involved security
agencies, civil society and the public - recoveries have risen to as
high as 1,743 arms. Mbeya, Rukwa, Kagera and Kigoma are among the most
"Most of the illicit firearms that have been recovered are suspected to
have been brought into the country by refugees from Congo, Burundi and
Rwanda but some guns were brought in during the war with Idi Amin and
during the Mozambique liberation war," said Mr Hayuma.
Some firearms have been reportedly recovered from Somali poachers in
national parks in the north of the country.
In 2003, a non-governmental organisation Foundation Help issued a
report saying there was noticeable growth in the number of small arms
around Lake Victoria, especially on the Tanzanian side, "but these are
frequently in the wrong hands".
The report says that,in the Lake Victoria region of Tanzania, 75 per
cent of the illegal firearms come from the Democratic Republic of the
Congo, Burundi and Rwanda. "Most of the weapons come through Mwanza
airport, which acts as a conduit of arms. The planes that collect fish
for export in places like Russia, Ukraine and South Africa also bring in
small firearms on board," said the report, quoting an International
Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) participants' survey in the
Mwanza acting Police Commander Goodluck Mongi was not available for
comment. However, a senior police officer in Mwanza disputed the claims.
He said the main source of firearms in Tanzania were the war-torn
countries of DRC and Burundi.
Mwanza airport manager Deogratius Malongo disputed the allegations.
"They need to substantiate their claims, because we have never come
across any plane from Russia, Ukraine or South Africa with arms on
board," he said.
IANSA is a UK-based NGO that is addressing small arms trafficking and
related problems around the world.
Malawi results enrage MPs
By Aubrey Sumbuleta
BBC Sport, Lilongwe
Malawi's national assembly has demanded the resignation of sports
minister Henry Chimunthu Banda.
The parliamentarians, dissatisfied with the national team's results in
the 2006 World Cup qualifying series, blamed Banda for the country's
flagging football fortunes.
The Flames, as Malawi's national team is known, sit at the bottom of
Group Five with three points.
Justine Malewezi, former vice-president but now a sitting MP, was
unhappy that the team travelled to Tunisia for their last match without
The Flames were thrashed 7-0 by the reigning African champions in their
It took six days for the team to return home, due to financial
constraints which complicated their return journey through Ethiopia.
"It will take four years for the Flames to overcome this 7-0 defeat,"
Malewezi said angrily.
"I call for the team to withdraw from the competition so that we can
prepare ourselves well before we join any other competitions," he went
on, to the applause of other MPs.
Malewezi also proposed the establishment of a Parliamentary Committee
Other legislators questioned the commitment of the government to the
national team, since they have failed to sufficiently fund its
"It's sad that Malawi has become Africa's football whipping boys," said
"Malawi has become a laughing stock," he went on.
Banda, nicknamed "Mr Seven-zero" by the angry MPs, following the defeat
in Tunisia, refused to quit his post.
He claimed the government was doing all it can to support the Flames.
"It would be unwise of us to withdraw the team from the competition,"
The minister said officials of the ministry will look into the affairs
of the team in order to reverse their fortunes.
I am trying to not make this sound like spam, but I am running a summer ESL
camp for about 60 students (I hope). I am planning to have three 4-week
sessions and I am looking for anyone with ESL experience who may be
interested in summer work.
If you would like more information about the school, the program, or are
interested please feel free to contact me at danield@...
Thanks for your time,
Strange Things You Likely Didn't Know
1. A rat can last longer without water than a camel.
2. Your stomach has to produce a new layer of mucus every two weeks or
it will digest itself.
3. The dot over the letter "i" is called a tittle.
4. A raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce up and
down continuously from the bottom of the glass to the top.
5. A female ferret will die if it goes into heat and cannot find a mate.
6. A duck's quack doesn't echo. No one knows why.
7. A 2 X 4 is really 1-1/2" by 3-1/2".
8. During the chariot scene in "Ben Hur," a small red car can be seen
in the distance (and Heston's wearing a watch).
9. On average, 12 newborns will be given to the wrong parents daily!
(That explains a few mysteries....)
10. Donald Duck comics were banned from Finland because he doesn't
11. Because metal was scarce, the Oscars given out during World War II
were made of wood.
12. The number of possible ways of playing the first four moves per
side in a game of chess is 318,979,564,000.
13. There are no words in the dictionary that rhyme with orange,
purple and silver.
14. The name Wendy was made up for the book Peter Pan. There was never
a recorded Wendy before.
15. The very first bomb dropped by the Allies on Berlin in World War II
killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo.
16. If one places a tiny amount of liquor on a scorpion, it will
instantly go mad and sting itself to death. (Who was the sadist who
17. Bruce Lee was so fast that they actually had to s-l-o-w film down
so you could see his moves. That's the opposite of the norm.
18. The first CD pressed in the US was Bruce Springsteen's "Born in
19. The original name for butterfly was flutterby.
20. The phrase "rule of thumb" is derived from an old English law which
stated that you couldn't beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.
21. The first product Motorola started to develop was a record player
for automobiles. At that time, the most known player on the market was
Victrola, so the called themselves Motorola.
22. Roses may be red, but violets are indeed violet.
23. By raising your legs slowly and lying on your back, you cannot
sink into quicksand.
24. Celery has negative calories. It takes more calories to eat a
piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with.
25. Charlie Chaplin once won third prize in a Charlie Chaplin
26. Chewing gum while peeling onions will keep you from crying.
27. Sherlock Holmes NEVER said, "Elementary, my dear Watson."
28. An old law in Bellingham, Washington, made it illegal for a woman
to take more than three steps backwards while dancing!
29. The glue on Israeli postage is certified kosher.
30. The Guinness Book of Records holds the record for being the book
most often stolen from public libraries.
31. Astronauts are not allowed to eat beans before they go into space
because passing wind in a spacesuit damages them.
32. Bats always turn left when exiting a cave!
Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
>The Long Emergency
>What's going to happen as we start running out of cheap gas to guzzle?
>By JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER
>Rolling Stone.com, March 2005
>A few weeks ago, the price of oil ratcheted above fifty-five dollars a
>barrel, which is about twenty dollars a barrel more than a year ago.
>next day, the oil story was buried on page six of the New York Times
>business section. Apparently, the price of oil is not considered
>news, even when it goes up five bucks a barrel in the span of ten
>same day, the stock market shot up more than a hundred points because,
>said, government data showed no signs of inflation. Note to clueless
>Call planet Earth.
>Carl Jung, one of the fathers of psychology, famously remarked that
>cannot stand too much reality." What you're
about to read may
>assumptions about the kind of world we live in, and especially the
>world into which events are propelling us. We are in for a rough ride
>through uncharted territory.
>It has been very hard for Americans -- lost in dark raptures of
>infotainment, recreational shopping and compulsive motoring -- to make
>of the gathering forces that will fundamentally alter the terms of
>life in our technological society. Even after the terrorist attacks of
>America is still sleepwalking into the future. I call this coming time
>Most immediately we face the end of the cheap-fossil-fuel era. It is
>exaggeration to state that reliable supplies of cheap oil and natural
>underlie everything we identify as the necessities of modern life --
of its comforts and luxuries: central heating, air
>cars, airplanes, electric lights, inexpensive clothing, recorded
>movies, hip-replacement surgery, national defense -- you name it.
>The few Americans who are even aware that there is a gathering
>predicament usually misunderstand the core of the argument. That
>states that we don't have to run out of oil to start having severe
>with industrial civilization and its dependent systems. We only have
>over the all-time production peak and begin a slide down the arc of
>The term "global oil-production peak" means that a turning point will
>when the world produces the most oil it will ever produce in a given
>and, after that, yearly production will inexorably decline. It is
in a bell curve. The peak is the top of the
>the halfway point of the world's all-time total endowment, meaning
>world's oil will be left. That seems like a lot of oil, and it is, but
>there's a big catch: It's the half that is much more difficult to
>far more costly to get, of much poorer quality and located mostly in
>where the people hate us. A substantial amount of it will never be
>The United States passed its own oil peak -- about 11 million barrels
>-- in 1970, and since then production has dropped steadily. In 2004 it
>just above 5 million barrels a day (we get a tad more from natural-gas
>condensates). Yet we consume roughly 20 million barrels a day now.
>means we have to import about two-thirds of our oil, and the ratio
>continue to worsen.
>The U.S. peak in 1970 brought on a portentous
change in geoeconomic
>Within a few years, foreign producers, chiefly OPEC, were setting the
>of oil, and this in turn led to the oil crises of the 1970s. In
>frantic development of non-OPEC oil, especially the North Sea fields
>England and Norway, essentially saved the West's ass for about two
>Since 1999, these fields have entered depletion. Meanwhile, worldwide
>discovery of new oil has steadily declined to insignificant levels in
>Some "cornucopians" claim that the Earth has something like a creamy
>center of "abiotic" oil that will naturally replenish the great oil
>of the world. The facts speak differently. There has been no
>whatsoever of oil already extracted from the fields of America or any
>Now we are faced with the global oil-production peak. The
>when this will actually happen have been somewhere between now and
>2004, however, after demand from burgeoning China and India shot up,
>revelations that Shell Oil wildly misstated its reserves, and Saudi
>proved incapable of goosing up its production despite promises to do
>most knowledgeable experts revised their predictions and now concur
>2005 is apt to be the year of all-time global peak production.
>It will change everything about how we live.
>To aggravate matters, American natural-gas production is also
>five percent a year, despite frenetic new drilling, and with the
>of much steeper declines ahead. Because of the oil crises of the
>nuclear-plant disasters at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl and the
>problem, the U.S. chose to make gas its
first choice for
>generation. The result was that just about every power plant built
>1980 has to run on gas. Half the homes in America are heated with gas.
>further complicate matters, gas isn't easy to import. Here in North
>it is distributed through a vast pipeline network. Gas imported from
>overseas would have to be compressed at minus-260 degrees Fahrenheit
>pressurized tanker ships and unloaded (re-gasified) at special
>which few exist in America. Moreover, the first attempts to site new
>terminals have met furious opposition because they are such ripe
>Some other things about the global energy predicament are poorly
>by the public and even our leaders. This is going to be a permanent
>crisis, and these energy problems will synergize with the
>climate change, epidemic disease and population overshoot to produce
>orders of trouble.
>We will have to accommodate ourselves to fundamentally changed
>No combination of alternative fuels will allow us to run American life
>way we have been used to running it, or even a substantial fraction of
>The wonders of steady technological progress achieved through the
>cheap oil have lulled us into a kind of Jiminy Cricket syndrome,
>many Americans to believe that anything we wish for hard enough will
>true. These days, even people who ought to know better are wishing
>for a seamless transition from fossil fuels to their putative
>The widely touted "hydrogen economy" is a particularly cruel hoax. We
>not going to replace the U.S. automobile and truck fleet with
>on fuel cells. For one thing, the current generation of fuel cells is
>largely designed to run on hydrogen obtained from natural gas. The
>to get hydrogen in the quantities wished for would be electrolysis of
>using power from hundreds of nuclear plants. Apart from the dim
>our building that many nuclear plants soon enough, there are also
>severe problems with hydrogen's nature as an element that present
>obstacles to its use as a replacement for oil and gas, especially in
>Wishful notions about rescuing our way of life with "renewables" are
>unrealistic. Solar-electric systems and wind turbines face not only
>enormous problem of scale but the fact that the components require
>substantial amounts of energy to manufacture and the probability that
>can't be manufactured at all without the underlying support platform
>fossil-fuel economy. We will surely use solar and wind technology to
>generate some electricity for a period ahead but probably at a very
>and small scale.
>Virtually all "biomass" schemes for using plants to create liquid
>cannot be scaled up to even a fraction of the level at which things
>currently run. What's more, these schemes are predicated on using oil
>gas "inputs" (fertilizers, weed-killers) to grow the biomass crops
>would be converted into ethanol or bio-diesel fuels. This is a net
>loser -- you might as well just burn the inputs and not bother with
>biomass products. Proposals to distill trash and waste into oil by
>thermal depolymerization depend on the huge waste stream produced by a
>oil and gas economy in
the first place.
>Coal is far less versatile than oil and gas, extant in less abundant
>supplies than many people assume and fraught with huge ecological
>-- as a contributor to greenhouse "global warming" gases and many
>toxicity issues ranging from widespread mercury poisoning to acid
>can make synthetic oil from coal, but the only time this was tried on
>large scale was by the Nazis under wartime conditions, using
>amounts of slave labor.
>If we wish to keep the lights on in America after 2020, we may indeed
>to resort to nuclear power, with all its practical problems and
>eco-conundrums. Under optimal conditions, it could take ten years to
>new generation of nuclear power plants into operation, and the price
>beyond our means. Uranium is also a resource in finite supply. We are
>closer to the more difficult project of atomic fusion, by the way,
>were in the 1970s.
>The upshot of all this is that we are entering a historical period of
>potentially great instability, turbulence and hardship. Obviously,
>geopolitical maneuvering around the world's richest energy regions has
>already led to war and promises more international military conflict.
>the Middle East contains two-thirds of the world's remaining oil
>the U.S. has attempted desperately to stabilize the region by, in
>opening a big police station in Iraq. The intent was not just to
>Iraq's oil but to modify and influence the behavior of neighboring
>around the Persian Gulf, especially Iran and Saudi Arabia. The results
>been far from entirely positive, and our future prospects in that part
>the world are not something we can
feel altogether confident about.
>And then there is the issue of China, which, in 2004, became the
>second-greatest consumer of oil, surpassing Japan. China's surging
>industrial growth has made it increasingly dependent on the imports we
>counting on. If China wanted to, it could easily walk into some of
>places -- the Middle East, former Soviet republics in central Asia --
>extend its hegemony by force. Is America prepared to contest for this
>an Asian land war with the Chinese army? I doubt it. Nor can the U.S.
>military occupy regions of the Eastern Hemisphere indefinitely, or
>secure either the terrain or the oil infrastructure of one distant,
>unfriendly country after another. A likely scenario is that the U.S.
>exhaust and bankrupt itself trying to do this, and be forced to
>back into our own hemisphere,
having lost access to most of the
>remaining oil in the process.
>We know that our national leaders are hardly uninformed about this
>predicament. President George W. Bush has been briefed on the dangers
>oil-peak situation as long ago as before the 2000 election and
>since then. In March, the Department of Energy released a report that
>officially acknowledges for the first time that peak oil is for real
>states plainly that "the world has never faced a problem like this.
>massive mitigation more than a decade before the fact, the problem
>pervasive and will not be temporary."
>Most of all, the Long Emergency will require us to make other
>for the way we live in the United States. America is in a special
>predicament due to a set of unfortunate choices we made as a society
century. Perhaps the worst was to let our towns and cities
>away and to replace them with suburbia, which had the additional side
>of trashing a lot of the best farmland in America. Suburbia will come
>regarded as the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of
>world. It has a tragic destiny. The psychology of previous investment
>suggests that we will defend our drive-in utopia long after it has
>Before long, the suburbs will fail us in practical terms. We made the
>ongoing development of housing subdivisions, highway strips,
>shacks and shopping malls the basis of our economy, and when we have
>making more of those things, the bottom will fall out.
>The circumstances of the Long Emergency will require us to downscale
>re-scale virtually everything we do and how we do
it, from the kind of
>communities we physically inhabit to the way we grow our food to the
>work and trade the products of our work. Our lives will become
>and intensely local. Daily life will be far less about mobility and
>more about staying where you are. Anything organized on the large
>whether it is government or a corporate business enterprise such as
>Wal-Mart, will wither as the cheap energy props that support bigness
>away. The turbulence of the Long Emergency will produce a lot of
>losers, and many of these will be members of an angry and aggrieved
>Food production is going to be an enormous problem in the Long
>industrial agriculture fails due to a scarcity of oil- and gas-based
>we will certainly have to grow more of our food closer to where we
>do it on a smaller scale. The American economy of the mid-twenty-first
>century may actually center on agriculture, not information, not high
>not "services" like real estate sales or hawking cheeseburgers to
>Farming. This is no doubt a startling, radical idea, and it raises
>difficult questions about the reallocation of land and the nature of
>The relentless subdividing of land in the late twentieth century has
>destroyed the contiguity and integrity of the rural landscape in most
>places. The process of readjustment is apt to be disorderly and
>improvisational. Food production will necessarily be much more
>labor-intensive than it has been for decades. We can anticipate the
>re-formation of a native-born American farm-laboring class. It will be
>composed largely of the aforementioned economic losers who had to
>their grip on the American dream. These masses of disentitled people
>enter into quasi-feudal social relations with those who own land in
>for food and physical security. But their sense of grievance will
>fresh, and if mistreated they may simply seize that land.
>The way that commerce is currently organized in America will not
>into the Long Emergency. Wal-Mart's "warehouse on wheels" won't be
>bargain in a non-cheap-oil economy. The national chain stores'
>manufacturing supply lines could easily be interrupted by military
>over oil and by internal conflict in the nations that have been
>with ultra-cheap manufactured goods, because they, too, will be
>with similar issues of energy famine and all the disorders that go
these things occur, America will have to make other arrangements
>manufacture, distribution and sale of ordinary goods. They will
>made on a "cottage industry" basis rather than the factory system we
>had, since the scale of available energy will be much lower -- and we
>not going to replay the twentieth century. Tens of thousands of the
>products we enjoy today, from paints to pharmaceuticals, are made out
>oil. They will become increasingly scarce or unavailable. The selling
>things will have to be reorganized at the local scale. It will have to
>based on moving merchandise shorter distances. It is almost certain to
>result in higher costs for the things we buy and far fewer choices.
>The automobile will be a diminished presence in our lives, to say the
>With gasoline in short supply, not to mention tax revenue, our
>surely suffer. The interstate highway system is more delicate than the
>public realizes. If the "level of service" (as traffic engineers call
>not maintained to the highest degree, problems multiply and escalate
>quickly. The system does not tolerate partial failure. The interstates
>either in excellent condition, or they quickly fall apart.
>America today has a railroad system that the Bulgarians would be
>Neither of the two major presidential candidates in 2004 mentioned
>railroads, but if we don't refurbish our rail system, then there may
>long-range travel or transport of goods at all a few decades from now.
>commercial aviation industry, already on its knees financially, is
>vanish. The sheer cost of maintaining gigantic airports may not
>operation of a much-reduced air-travel
fleet. Railroads are far more
>efficient than cars, trucks or airplanes, and they can be run on
>from wood to electricity. The rail-bed infrastructure is also far more
>economical to maintain than our highway network.
>The successful regions in the twenty-first century will be the ones
>surrounded by viable farming hinterlands that can reconstitute locally
>sustainable economies on an armature of civic cohesion. Small towns
>smaller cities have better prospects than the big cities, which will
>probably have to contract substantially. The process will be painful
>tumultuous. In many American cities, such as Cleveland, Detroit and
>Louis, that process is already well advanced. Others have further to
>New York and Chicago face extraordinary difficulties, being
>with gigantic buildings out of scale with the reality of declining
>supplies. Their former agricultural hinterlands have long been paved
>They will be encysted in a surrounding fabric of necrotic suburbia
>only amplify and reinforce the cities' problems. Still, our cities
>important sites. Some kind of urban entities will exist where they are
>the future, but probably not the colossi of twentieth-century
>Some regions of the country will do better than others in the Long
>Emergency. The Southwest will suffer in proportion to the degree that
>prospered during the cheap-oil blowout of the late twentieth century.
>predict that Sunbelt states like Arizona and Nevada will become
>significantly depopulated, since the region will be short of water as
>as gasoline and natural gas. Imagine Phoenix without cheap air
>I'm not optimistic about the
Southeast, either, for different reasons.
>think it will be subject to substantial levels of violence as the
>of the formerly middle class boil over and collide with the delusions
>Pentecostal Christian extremism. The latent encoded behavior of
>culture includes an outsized notion of individualism and the belief
>firearms ought to be used in the defense of it. This is a poor recipe
>The Mountain States and Great Plains will face an array of problems,
>poor farming potential to water shortages to population loss. The
>Northwest, New England and the Upper Midwest have somewhat better
>I regard them as less likely to fall into lawlessness, anarchy or
>and more likely to salvage the bits and pieces of our best social
>and keep them in operation at some
>These are daunting and even dreadful prospects. The Long Emergency is
>to be a tremendous trauma for the human race. We will not believe that
>is happening to us, that 200 years of modernity can be brought to its
>by a world-wide power shortage. The survivors will have to cultivate a
>religion of hope -- that is, a deep and comprehensive belief that
>is worth carrying on. If there is any positive side to stark changes
>our way, it may be in the benefits of close communal relations, of
>really work intimately (and physically) with our neighbors, to be part
>enterprise that really matters and to be fully engaged in meaningful
>enactments instead of being merely entertained to avoid boredom. Years
>now, when we hear singing at all, we will hear ourselves, and we will
>Adapted from The Long Emergency, 2005, by James Howard Kunstler, and
>reprinted with permission of the publisher, Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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I read the whole thing and don't know whether to
commit suicide or go bowling.
I put this synthetic oil from Mobile in my car once
and it worked great. Can't we just make a big batch of
Actually, I agree people don't like to be confused
with reality. We have to wait until things
deteriorate, but then still may not see it.
On balance, some other unforeseen factors inevitably
come into play that were not part of the equation at
the time. I'm not confident with current
neoconservatives driving some of this, but can take
solace in the fact that the article appeared in
Rolling Stone, and in the same issue they said Nelly
had really phat rhymes, so it's not infallible.
I saw on Battlestar Galactica once that many of those
spacecraft run on electro-magnetism. Is anyone
exploring that? Those things seem kind of heavy just
to sit there in the air.
In the meantime, I'm going to build a small cottage on
Likoma to run to, and grow small plants for
--- Matthew McNulty <mcnurty@...> wrote:
> >The Long Emergency
> >What's going to happen as we start running out of
> cheap gas to guzzle?
> >By JAMES HOWARD KUNSTLER
> >Rolling Stone.com, March 2005
> >A few weeks ago, the price of oil ratcheted above
> fifty-five dollars a
> >barrel, which is about twenty dollars a barrel more
> than a year ago.
> >next day, the oil story was buried on page six of
> the New York Times
> >business section. Apparently, the price of oil is
> not considered
> >news, even when it goes up five bucks a barrel in
> the span of ten
> >same day, the stock market shot up more than a
> hundred points because,
> >said, government data showed no signs of inflation.
> Note to clueless
> >Call planet Earth.
> >Carl Jung, one of the fathers of psychology,
> famously remarked that
> >cannot stand too much reality." What you're about
> to read may
> >assumptions about the kind of world we live in, and
> especially the
> kind of
> >world into which events are propelling us. We are
> in for a rough ride
> >through uncharted territory.
> >It has been very hard for Americans -- lost in dark
> raptures of
> >infotainment, recreational shopping and compulsive
> motoring -- to make
> >of the gathering forces that will fundamentally
> alter the terms of
> >life in our technological society. Even after the
> terrorist attacks of
> >America is still sleepwalking into the future. I
> call this coming time
> >Long Emergency.
> >Most immediately we face the end of the
> cheap-fossil-fuel era. It is
> >exaggeration to state that reliable supplies of
> cheap oil and natural
> >underlie everything we identify as the necessities
> of modern life --
> not to
> >mention all of its comforts and luxuries: central
> heating, air
> >cars, airplanes, electric lights, inexpensive
> clothing, recorded
> >movies, hip-replacement surgery, national defense
> -- you name it.
> >The few Americans who are even aware that there is
> a gathering
> >predicament usually misunderstand the core of the
> argument. That
> >states that we don't have to run out of oil to
> start having severe
> >with industrial civilization and its dependent
> systems. We only have
> >over the all-time production peak and begin a slide
> down the arc of
> >The term "global oil-production peak" means that a
> turning point will
> >when the world produces the most oil it will ever
> produce in a given
> >and, after that, yearly production will inexorably
> decline. It is
> >represented graphically in a bell curve. The peak
> is the top of the
> >the halfway point of the world's all-time total
> endowment, meaning
> half the
> >world's oil will be left. That seems like a lot of
> oil, and it is, but
> >there's a big catch: It's the half that is much
> more difficult to
> >far more costly to get, of much poorer quality and
> located mostly in
> >where the people hate us. A substantial amount of
> it will never be
> >The United States passed its own oil peak -- about
> 11 million barrels
> a day
> >-- in 1970, and since then production has dropped
> steadily. In 2004 it
> >just above 5 million barrels a day (we get a tad
> more from natural-gas
> >condensates). Yet we consume roughly 20 million
> barrels a day now.
> >means we have to import about two-thirds of our
> oil, and the ratio
> >continue to worsen.
> >The U.S. peak in 1970 brought on a portentous
> change in geoeconomic
> >Within a few years, foreign producers, chiefly
> OPEC, were setting the
> >of oil, and this in turn led to the oil crises of
> the 1970s. In
> >frantic development of non-OPEC oil, especially the
> North Sea fields
> >England and Norway, essentially saved the West's
> ass for about two
> >Since 1999, these fields have entered depletion.
> Meanwhile, worldwide
> >discovery of new oil has steadily declined to
> insignificant levels in
> >and 2004.
> >Some "cornucopians" claim that the Earth has
> something like a creamy
> >center of "abiotic" oil that will naturally
> replenish the great oil
> >of the world. The facts speak differently. There
> has been no
> >whatsoever of oil already extracted from the fields
> of America or any
> >Now we are faced with the global oil-production
> peak. The best
> estimates of
> >when this will actually happen have been somewhere
> between now and
> 2010. In
> >2004, however, after demand from burgeoning China
> and India shot up,
> >revelations that Shell Oil wildly misstated its
> reserves, and Saudi
> >proved incapable of goosing up its production
> despite promises to do
> >most knowledgeable experts revised their
> predictions and now concur
> >2005 is apt to be the year of all-time global peak
> >It will change everything about how we live.
=== message truncated ===
"Think of where man's glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had
such friends." Yeats
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Matt McNulty (mcnurty@...) has sent you a news article. (Email address has not been verified.)
I know that you cannot believe everything that you read, but if this is even partially true, it scare the hell out of me.
2 Evangelicals Want to Strip Courts' Funds
Sat, Apr 23, 2005
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2 Evangelicals Want to Strip Courts' Funds
By Peter Wallsten Times Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Evangelical Christian leaders, who have been working closely with senior Republican lawmakers to place conservative judges in the federal courts, have also been exploring ways to punish sitting jurists and even entire courts viewed as hostile to their cause.
An audio recording obtained by the Los Angeles Times features two of the nation's most influential evangelical leaders, at a private conference with supporters, laying out strategies to rein in judges, such as stripping funding from their courts in an effort to hinder their work.
The discussion took place during a Washington conference last month that included addresses by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who discussed efforts to bring a more conservative cast to the courts.
Frist and DeLay have not publicly endorsed the evangelical groups' proposed actions. But the taped discussion among evangelical leaders provides a glimpse of the road map they are drafting as they work with congressional Republicans to achieve a judiciary that sides with them on abortion, same-sex marriage and other elements of their agenda.
"There's more than one way to skin a cat, and there's more than one way to take a black robe off the bench," said Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, according to an audiotape of a March 17 session. The tape was provided to The Times by the advocacy group Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
DeLay has spoken generally about one of the ideas the leaders discussed in greater detail: using legislative tactics to withhold money from courts.
"We set up the courts. We can unset the courts. We have the power of the purse," DeLay said at an April 13 question-and-answer session with reporters.
The leaders present at the March conference, including Perkins and James C. Dobson, founder of the influential group Focus on the Family, have been working with Frist to eliminate the filibuster for judicial nominations, a legislative tool that has allowed Senate Democrats to stall 10 of President Bush's nominations. Frist is scheduled to appear, via a taped statement, during a satellite broadcast to churches nationwide Sunday that the Family Research Council has organized to build support for the Bush nominees.
The March conference featuring Dobson and Perkins showed that the evangelical leaders, in addition to working to place conservative nominees on the bench, have been trying to find ways to remove certain judges.
Perkins said that he had attended a meeting with congressional leaders a week earlier where the strategy of stripping funding from certain courts was "prominently" discussed. "What they're thinking of is not only the fact of just making these courts go away and re-creating them the next day but also defunding them," Perkins said.
He said that instead of undertaking the long process of trying to impeach judges, Congress could use its appropriations authority to "just take away the bench, all of his staff, and he's just sitting out there with nothing to do."
These curbs on courts are "on the radar screen, especially of conservatives here in Congress," he said.
Dobson, who emerged last year as one of the evangelical movement's most important political leaders, named one potential target: the California-based U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
"Very few people know this, that the Congress can simply disenfranchise a court," Dobson said. "They don't have to fire anybody or impeach them or go through that battle. All they have to do is say the 9th Circuit doesn't exist anymore, and it's gone."
Robert Stevenson, a spokesman for Frist, said Thursday that the Senate leader does not agree with the idea of defunding courts or shutting them down, pointing to Frist's comments earlier this month embracing a "fair and independent judiciary." A spokesman for DeLay declined to comment.
The remarks by Perkins and Dobson drew fire from Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, who charged that the two leaders were more brazen in such private encounters with supporters than their more genteel public images portray.
"To talk about defunding judges is just about the most bizarre, radical approach to controlling the outcome of court decisions that you can imagine," Lynn said.
Frist is expected to try as early as next week to push the Senate to ban filibusters on judicial nominations — a move so explosive that Democrats are calling it the "nuclear option."
Democrats have been using the filibuster to block 10 of Bush's appeals court nominees who they believe are too extreme in their views, but the skirmishes are considered a preview of a highly anticipated fight over replacing the ailing Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, whose retirement is considered imminent.
"Folks, I am telling you all that it is going to be the mother of all battles," Dobson predicted at the March 17 meeting. "And it's right around the corner. I mean, Justice Rehnquist could resign at any time, and the other side is mobilized to the teeth."
The remarks by Perkins and Dobson reflect the passion felt by Christians who helped fuel Bush's reelection last year with massive turnout in battleground states, and who also spurred Republican gains in the Senate and House.
Claiming a role by the movement in the GOP gains, Dobson concluded: "We've got a right to hold them accountable for what happens here."
Both leaders chastised what Perkins termed "squishy" and "weak" Republican senators who have not wholeheartedly endorsed ending Democrats' power to filibuster judicial nominees. They said these included moderates such as Sens. Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. They also grumbled that Sens. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and George Allen of Virginia needed prodding.
"We need to shake these guys up," Perkins said.
Said Dobson: "Sometimes it's just amazing to me that they seem to forget how they got here."
Even Bush was not spared criticism. Dobson and Perkins encouraged their supporters to demand that the president act as aggressively on the judiciary as he has for his Social Security overhaul.
"These are not Bill Frist's nominees; these are President George W. Bush's nominees," Perkins said. "He needs to be out there putting pressure on these senators who are weak on this issue and standing in obstruction to these nominations," he said.
Dobson chided Frist, a likely 2008 presidential contender, for not acting sooner on the filibuster issue, urging "conservatives all over the country" to tell Frist "that he needs to get on with it."
Dobson also said Republicans risked inflicting long-term damage on their party if they failed to seize the moment — a time when Bush still has the momentum of his reelection victory — to transform the courts. He said they had just 18 months to act before Bush becomes a "lame-duck president."
"If we let that 18 months get away from us and then maybe we got Hillary to deal with or who knows what, we absolutely will not recover from that," he said.
Perkins and Dobson laid out a history of court rulings they found offensive, singling out the recent finding by the Supreme Court that executing minors was unconstitutional. They criticized Justice Anthony M. Kennedy's majority opinion, noting that the Republican appointee had cited the laws of foreign nations that, Dobson said, applied the same standard as "the most liberal countries in Europe."
"What about Latin America, South America, Central America? What about China? What about Africa?" Dobson asked. "They pick and choose the international law that they want and then apply it here as though we're somehow accountable to Europe. I resent that greatly."
DeLay has also criticized Kennedy for citing foreign laws in that opinion, calling the practice "outrageous."
As part of the discussion, Perkins and Dobson referred to remarks by Dobson earlier this year at a congressional dinner in which he singled out the use by one group of the cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants in a video that Dobson said promoted a homosexual agenda.
Dobson was ridiculed for his comments, which some critics interpreted to mean the evangelist had determined that the cartoon character was gay.
Dobson said the beating he took in the media, coming after his appearance on the cover of newsmagazines hailing his prominence in Bush's reelection, proved that the press will only seek to tear him down.
"This will not be the last thing that you read about that makes me look ridiculous," he said.
Reversing Malawi's nurse brain drain
BBC News health reporter
Each year the African country of Malawi trains about 60 nurses.
But that figure is dwarfed by the 100 who leave the country annually in search
of better wages abroad - many of them heading to Britain.
This autumn, two more nurses will leave Malawi bound for Carlisle, in Cumbria.
But, unlike many of their compatriots, these nurses will be going back.
For they are part of the latest initiative by staff at the Cumberland Infirmary.
They will be trained in the hospital for a couple of weeks before taking their
newly acquired skills back to Malawi.
Clare McKenzie, a sister in orthopaedic trauma, said that staff from Carlisle
had already been out to help in the new orthopaedic hospital in Blantyre,
Malawi, and have, with the help of local companies and businesses, sent out
truckloads of equipment.
Clare said she would like to see projects like this extended.
"I think a scheme like this on a bigger scale would address many of the issues
in Africa. We have shored up our system with international recruitment."
But she added that Africa was now paying the price as it had too few nursing
staff to cope with patients.
Malawi has only three orthopaedic surgeons for a population of 11 million,
compared with one to 45,000 in the UK.
There are 150,000 physically disabled children in the country and about 50,000
of these are thought to benefit from corrective orthopaedic surgery.
The Carlisle-Blantyre hospitals link was set up when Jim Harrison, a senior
registrar in Carlisle, left to work as the medical director of Malawi's first
elective orthopaedic hospital for children - The New Beit Children's United
Rehabilitation (CURE) Trust international Hospital.
Since the hospital opened three years ago, Clare and her team have been involved
in sending out journals, medical materials and used equipment.
For their Malawian work, Clare and colleague Pauline Stratton were named Nursing
Standard's joint national nurses of the year in 2003.
Pauline received her award posthumously having been killed in an elephant
stampede on safari while visiting Malawi in May of that year.
Clare said the link had become very important to the Cumberland hospital,
particularly the orthopaedic department.
"We visited in October 2002 before the hospital opened and spent three weeks
there doing a bit of teaching and helping to set it up. And it grew from there."
She said one of the rewarding things about working in Malawi was the massive
difference that could be made in the lives of the children, by enabling many to
"There was a little boy called Willy who had congenital deformities and he could
not work. He had nine operations and is now his family's chief fire collector,"
And she added the whole experience had been very rewarding.
"I went to give. Instead, I received far more in return."
Jim Harrison, in Malawi, agreed that the operations at the hospital were life
changing for the children.
"Surgery is often life-changing, restoring mobility and dignity. For many
children it will enable them to go to school and have hope for the future."
Marie Burnham, chief executive of the North Cumbria Acute Hospitals NHS Trust,
said the Malawi orthopaedics link had been such a success that the whole trust
was thinking of linking with an African hospital later this year.
She said it would be able to share its skills with Africa, but that it would
also be able to learn from staff there about dealing with TB management and
Malawi: Loan Scheme to Assist Rural Poor
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
April 22, 2005
Posted to the web April 22, 2005
Malawi's rural poor have cautiously welcomed a government-sponsored loan scheme,
saying similar aid packages in the past have tended to favour supporters of the
The scheme, introduced three months ago, is worth around Kwacha 5 billion (US
$44 million) and is expected to provide small loans to impoverished rural
households, in a bid to assist thousands of families struggling to make ends
meet. According to official figures, about 65 percent of the country's 12
million inhabitants live below the poverty line.
To ensure the loans are paid back, the government has employed a 'peer pressure'
mechanism: a group of 10 individuals collectively borrow from the scheme and
repayment is made as a group. Should one individual renege on their share of the
repayment, the group will not receive a further loan.
While vulnerable households say the loan scheme is timely and necessary, they
remain sceptical as to whether the funds will directly benefit communities in
"During the [Bakili] Muluzi administration we were told there were loans for
those who wanted to do business. I registered my name with some [United
Democratic Front] party officials, but we never saw the loan. I am afraid that
this, too, is just a political ploy to fool us," Rafton Gondwe from the northern
Mzimba district told IRIN.
"I spend most of the time doing piecework. With the money I get, I pay school
fees for my children and buy their clothes, apart from feeding them. If indeed
the loan is meant for poor people like us, it will help a lot," he added.
Gondwe said if he got the chance, he would borrow US $85 from the government
loan scheme to start a small business.
Wiseman Somba from Blantyre, in the south of the country, said he hoped access
to the microcredit loans would not be restricted to government supporters.
"In the past we had similar loan schemes, but those who benefited were people
related to, or who supported, the ruling party. This resulted in them failing to
pay the loans, because they thought it was a gift," he said.
The scheme will be managed by the Malawi Rural Development Fund (MRDF), while
the budget and finance parliamentary committee is expected to oversee its
activities to ensure transparency.
Malawi: Impact of Hunger Hastens Spread of HIV/Aids - New Study
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
April 19, 2005
Posted to the web April 19, 2005
Southern Africa's recent humanitarian crisis highlighted how the HIV/AIDS
epidemic increased people's vulnerability to acute food shortages, leaving them
unable to cope.
But research presented at last week's international conference on 'HIV/AIDS and
Food and Nutrition Security' in Durban, South Africa, found that this was only
half the story.
A study of smallholder farmers in three rural villages in Malawi's Lilongwe
district revealed that hunger was a greater contributing factor to increasing
susceptibility to HIV/AIDS, as these communities were engaging in risky sexual
practices to survive.
Small-scale farmers who rely on subsistence food production to make ends meet
are the largest occupational group in Malawi. Faced with three consecutive years
of declining food production, this group has become a "dissipating and dying
force", study co-author Deborah Fahy-Bryceson told delegates attending the
three-day conference, organised by the Washington-based International Food
Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
The effects of drought-induced food shortages were causing an "unravelling of
their social, economic and cultural way of life" and threatening their
existence, she added.
During the pre-harvest lean months, smallholder farmers have traditionally
relied on 'ganyu' labour - the exchange of their labour for goods or cash from
better off households.
The study, however, found that ganyu opportunities were increasingly hard to
find in rural communities, and women were often forced to venture into the
outskirts of the capital, Lilongwe, to work in gardens and factories.
According to Bryceson, there was now "a new twist to this traditional practice".
Most of the labourers - women and youth - were "increasingly becoming involved
in sexual services" in exchange for food and cash.
Because women were bringing food home, husbands were forced to turn a blind eye
to this new form of coping - the risk of hunger was a far greater priority than
the risk of HIV infection.
"Villagers are prioritising risk on the basis of perceptions of relative
manageability. A sense of powerlessness concerning their vulnerability to
HIV/AIDS leads to concentration on the more immediate concern of trying to
ensure their day-to-day staple food needs," the study said.
Nevertheless, it was important to distinguish this coping strategy as
transactional sex, because the women were compelled by circumstances, and did
not have a professional interest in safer sex, as was often the case in
commercial sex work, Bryceson warned.
Their deep-rooted belief systems presented another risk factor. The study found
that the prevailing traditional view, which saw condoms as "abnormal", and the
widespread Christian discourse on condoms as "immoral", resulted in few
villagers admitting to the use of the contraceptive, despite their local
For these rural households, "AIDS was not very threatening compared to hunger.
In fact, hunger is contributing to AIDS", Bryceson said.
With increasing research into the link between food insecurity and HIV/AIDS,
there was still a need to focus on how different occupational groups faced the
combined threat, rather than coming to general conclusions, she noted. "We still
need to be looking into the who, why and how."
Malawi: Aids Viewed As a Sign of Masculinity - Study
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
April 15, 2005
Posted to the web April 15, 2005
Rural men in southern Malawi are convinced that being HIV-positive reflects well
on their masculinity and sexual prowess, a new study has found.
According to Canada's University of Alberta sociologist, Amy Kaler, a high
number of sexually active young men say they are HIV-positive without having any
medical evaluation or signs of AIDS, and also have misperceptions about how the
disease is spread.
"They assume, first, that [AIDS] is everywhere and will eventually kill everyone
and second, that the disease is extremely infective and if one has been exposed
to the virus, one's days are numbered," US television station NBC, quoted Kaler
Journals of recorded conversation, or passing reference about AIDS between the
respondents, show that not only did they associate manliness with HIV, but one
man even corrects another by saying that he had slept with all the desirable
girls in one particular village, and would be the sole cause of an AIDS outbreak
However, Kaler stressed that since men in many parts of the world emphasise
sexual activity and risk-taking in their daily conversation with one another, it
was doubtful that the Malawian men's attitudes were unique.
Malawi: Land Redistribution Scheme Draws Criticism
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
April 14, 2005
Posted to the web April 14, 2005
Rights groups in Malawi have labelled a government land redistribution project
as "cosmetic", saying the move was unlikely to improve the lives of the rural
Commissioner of Lands Francis Majankono on Wednesday announced plans to purchase
land from tea and tobacco estate owners under the government's willing-buyer,
willing-seller policy. The redistribution exercise, funded by the World Bank to
the tune of US $28 million, is expected to parcel out land to around 20,000
families in the country's southern region.
Malawi inherited a skewed distribution of freehold land after independence, in
which the best agricultural land, particularly in the south of the country, was
foreign-owned by tea companies.
In recent years land-hungry communities have stepped up calls for an accelerated
redistribution programme that would place more land in the hands of the rural
Malawi's 11.5 million people are largely dependent on agriculture. Although an
estimated two million small-scale farming families hold between 1.8 and 2
million hectares of land, 72 percent of them actually cultivate less than one
hectare per family. On average, individual households have less than 0.5
hectares of land - not enough to feed a family.
"This redistribution project is largely cosmetic, especially if you consider
that there are hundreds of thousands of Malawians who are in desperate need of
land for their daily sustenance. Yes, we must applaud the government for this
exercise, but it is necessary to urge the authorities to make more land
available to more people in the near future," Collins Magalasi, national
co-ordinator of the Malawi Economic Justice Network, told IRIN.
The government has said it was committed to expanding the programme to other
parts of the country at a later stage, but has not said how much land would be
redistributed in total.
"It is not surprising that the government chose to redistribute land in the
southern region because already the population in this area has started to
encroach on the tea and tobacco estates," Magalasi pointed out.
He added that the government's willing-buyer, willing-seller policy was
untenable, given the country's limited financial resources.
"If the government is serious about addressing land inequalities it will have to
reconsider its land policy. Perhaps countries like South Africa can afford to
embark on this expensive exercise of purchasing land at market value, but for a
poor country like Malawi it is impossible," Magalasi noted.
Boniface Dulani, a lecturer in political studies at Chancellor College, agreed
that the current land reform programme needed to be examined, adding that "the
parcelling out of land will not alleviate chronic poverty" in Malawi.
"Land redistribution is long overdue, especially in the south, where there are
vast tracts of land lying fallow. However, redistribution must, of course, take
place in an organised fashion, whereby small-scale farmers are given support to
work the land. It really is pointless if these 20,000 families have no support
from the government," he commented.
Dulani said the recent poor harvest in Malawi showed that farmers were either
ill-equipped to farm the land, or unable to afford expensive agricultural
"I suspect that some of the big tobacco farmers are, at this moment, quite keen
to sell their estates after the poor showing in the last couple of seasons.
Families who do move onto this land must safeguard that they are not inheriting
land which has been over-farmed," Dulani warned.
According to the latest crop assessment, released by the Ministry of Agriculture
on 1 April, prolonged drought conditions have reduced maize production by 24.6
percent this season. Tobacco was also down by 12.5 percent. The crop earns
Malawi, one of the poorest nations in the world, more than two-thirds of its
annual foreign revenue.
Mourning for Zambia blast deaths
A national day of mourning is being held in Zambia for about 50 workers killed
in an explosion last Wednesday at a Chinese-owned explosives factory.
President Levy Mwanawasa is due to lead mourners at a mass funeral for the
victims outside the destroyed building in Chambeshi in Zambia's copper belt.
China has agreed to compensate the families of those who died.
Chinese experts are due to help local investigators determine the cause of the
Some relatives have accused the factory's owners of flouting safety regulations
at the site in Kitwe, 400km (250 miles) north of the capital Lusaka.
All flags in the country will fly at half-mast while entertainment activities
have been banned on Monday, said Joshua Kanganja, cabinet secretary in a
State radio and television will only play solemn music, he said.
Forty-nine bodies have been recovered and these are due to be buried in coffins,
draped in national flags.
But local officials say they believe more than 50 people were killed in the
The factory, which is a subsidiary of the Chinese-owned NFC Africa Mining
Company, has been operating since October 2003 and has the capacity to produce
6,000 metric tons of explosives a year.
Zanzibar arrests after explosion
Four people have been arrested by police after an explosion at a ruling party
office in Zanzibar.
Tension between the ruling CCM and the opposition CUF has risen in the past
month, with several reports of clashes between rival supporters.
General elections are due in October on the archipelago, which enjoys a large
degree of autonomy from the central Tanzanian government.
The dead body of a missing CCM official was found in a shallow grave on Sunday.
Police have banned political rallies and voter registration has been suspended
twice in an attempt to calm tensions.
No casualties were reported in the blast.
"So far, we have arrested four people in connection with a bomb blast - they are
the main suspects as of now," police investigator Ramadhani Kinyogo told AFP
news agency by phone from Mpandae where the blast took place.
"We do not know what kind of bomb it was, but our experts have gone to the
The CUF accuses the ruling CCM party of rigging previous elections and using
violence and intimidation against its supporters. Some 40 people were killed in
violence during the 2000 election campaign.
The CUF enjoys most of its support on the semi-autonomous archipelago but the
CCM party has won recent elections on the islands as well as on the mainland.
This week, John Chikakwiya, the mayor of Blantyre, Malawi's largest city, was
convicted of theft and sentenced to three years in prison for stealing $3,700 of
funds solicited from a local merchant for city road repairs. This is the first
conviction of a major political figure since President Mutharika's
anti-corruption campaign began nearly a year ago.
In its continued drive to have President Mutharika removed, the United
Democratic Front (UDF) has embarked on a country-wide campaign soliciting voter
signatures to petition the Malawi Electoral Commission to nullify last May's
presidential polls. The move to solicit signatures comes after the UDF
announced that it established ten grounds to prove alleged violations of the
Constitution and bad administration by Mutharika to enable it to move an
impeachment motion in parliament against the President. The party failed to
table the impeachment in the just-ended sitting of Parliament.
Why pumping water is child's play
A company in South Africa has found a way to harness youthful energy in solving
the perennial problem of water supply in rural villages.
It uses a playground roundabout (merry-go-round) to power a borehole pump.
Roundabout Outdoors is now hoping to take the concept to other African countries
where water infrastructure languishes behind South Africa.
The play-pump benefits women and girls in particular who can spend hours each
day fetching water.
"African and Asian women spend up to six hours a day walking to collect water,"
Roundabout Outdoor's Trevor Field told the BBC's World Today.
"If we put a play-pump in, if you look at the saving on time alone it's
phenomenal, and it does have a massive impact on the health of children and
people in general."
Mr Field describes the device as "basically windmill equipment".
"It's a positive displacement water pump, and as the children spin around it
transfers their energy into vertical or reciprocal motion, and that pumps water
from an underground borehole or well to the surface where it's stored in a tank
for future use."
With the children pushing the roundabout around 16 times a minute, the play-pump
can produce 1,400 litres of water per hour from a depth of 40 metres.
The pump is effective up to a depth of 100 metres. Its manufacturers say a
typical hand pump installation cannot compete with this delivery rate.
The play-pumps require an initial investment of 50,000 rand ($9000). Advertising
billboards above the pump raise the funds for maintenance.
The South African Aids awareness organisation, LoveLife, is currently paying for
Roundabout Outdoor has entered a partnership with the South African Department
of Water Affairs and Forestry to help it meet commitments to supply water to
hi all. we firmed up plans- will be in dc from june1-7. staying in alexandria.
the boy is dying to see dino bones. can you believe he is 5???!!!!! seems
like yesterday we were trying to decide between flatware and biscuit. d
Zimbabwe moves to bring in food
The Zimbabwean government has announced it will import 1.2m tons of the staple
food, maize, over the next few months.
However, the state-run Grain Marketing Board head denied opposition charges that
the country had run out of food.
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) official Renson Gasela accused the
government of failing to act while the country faced "a national catastrophe".
President Robert Mugabe has accused the MDC of exaggerating food shortages and
turned down offers of food aid.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwean newspaper, The Standard, has reported that a national park
was instructed to slaughter elephants in order to feed villagers at last week's
Independence Day celebrations.
GMB head retired army Col Samuel Muvuti called the MDC "ignorant and
irresponsible," and said it wanted to spread "alarm and despondency", reports
the state-run Herald newspaper.
He said imports had already started to arrive and said feeding the nation was
the government's priority after drought in February and March.
On Wednesday, Mr Gasela said Zimbabwe would harvest only about 500,000 tonnes of
maize against a demand of 1.8m tonnes.
"Any honest government, having misled the nation that there was more than enough
maize, even to the extent of stopping donors, would apologise to the nation for
its omission or commission," he said.
There are also shortages of other basics like toothpaste and margarine.
Ahead of parliamentary elections in March, President Mugabe did admit that
Zimbabwe would have to import grain following drought and a poor harvest.
The country is facing a foreign exchange crisis, with production of cash crops
such as tobacco only a fraction of what it was before the seizure of white-owned
Critics blame food shortages on the land reform programme which has seen
thousands of white farmers forced to leave their land in the past five years.
The government blames food shortages on drought and economic sabotage by Western
countries, led by the UK, opposed to land reform.
Protests at Zimbabwe rights role
By Susannah Price
BBC News, United Nations
The United States and other countries have protested about the re-election of
Zimbabwe to the UN's main human rights body, the Human Rights Commission.
Zimbabwe was one of 15 countries chosen by members of the UN's Economic and
Social Council in New York. All but one were chosen by consensus.
Critics say too many countries with appalling human rights records have been on
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has recommended it should be replaced.
Zimbabwe will sit on the UN Human Rights Commission for the next three years.
It was, like other candidates, put forward by its regional grouping - in this
case the Africa group.
There were immediate protests from the United States, with the deputy US
representative to the Economic and Social Council, William Brencick, accused
Zimbabwe of maintaining repressive controls on political assembly and the media.
He asked how they could expect Zimbabwe to support international human rights at
the commission while it disregarded the rights of its own people.
Australia and Canada also objected.
However, Zimbabwe's ambassador to the UN, Boniface Chidyausiku, said that when
it came to human rights no country was beyond reproach.
The Human Rights Commission, based in Geneva, has been widely criticised because
of the poor human rights records of many of its members.
Kofi Annan has said that its declining credibility has cast a shadow on the UN's
reputation as a whole.
He has suggested that as part of wider UN reforms, the commission should be
replaced by a smaller human rights council directly elected by the General
Harare reaches state of collapse
29 April 2005 08:13
Picture a township of 100 000 people going two weeks without water, suffering
sewerage bursts, no fuel, and power blackouts that often last half the day.
That is the reality in Mabvuku/Tafara township, one of at least seven Harare
suburbs afflicted by the progressive collapse of basic services.
"It's a recipe for disaster," said John Chirosvo, of Mabvuku. "The city's
crumbling," says Mark Davies, chairperson of the Harare Residents and Ratepayers
Association. "Water and power cuts are widespread; the people who have run the
city for the past 25 years have failed us."
Davies said several suburbs had gone for two months without water, while there
were intermittent power cuts. In Mabvuku/Tafara residents are surviving on water
from boreholes and streams that are considered a health hazard. Timothy Mabhawu,
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) MP for the constituency, said he had been
warned the township might be without piped water for a year.
The Mail & Guardian witnessed scores of Mabvuku residents trudging long
distances to collect water from streams in Gosden.
Marceline Nyika (32) was interviewed while fetching water from a borehole at RC
Hondo building contractors, meant for brickmakers. "We don't know who's to
blame," she said, sitting on two tins in a 100m queue. "It's two weeks now, and
no word from the government."
About a kilometre south sewerage pipes that burst a few weeks ago remain
Inquiries established that the water supply had been interrupted in six other
black residential areas in and around the capital, including Ruwa, Epworth,
Mbare, Mufakose and the dormitory town of Chitungwiza. Davies said up-market
areas of Harare, such as Borrowdale and Greendale, had not been spared.
The "overall state of the economy" was to blame. City engineers had told him the
government would need $100-million for the construction of another waterworks.
The existing facility could service only half the townships and nearby industry.
Lake Chivero dam, about 30km west of Harare, has been the traditional water
source for the city. However, rapid population growth * fuelled by the
government's land reforms and the collapse of the rural economy * has
outstripped capacity. To ease the pressure, the government proposed building
Kunzwi dam and a new waterworks. The project has been on the drafting table for
eight years, sources said, as its huge budget required Cabinet approval.
Engineers at the city council said the problem was that "everything is
centralised". "It was foreseen 50 years ago that Harare would need a new
waterworks. But government has sat on the plans."
Mabhawu said he had tried to break the water impasse. "Local Government Minister
Ignatius Chombo is running meetings at the party headquarters, and the mayoress
and her town clerk are at a trade fair in Bulawayo," Mabhawu said. "There is
nobody to assist."
Former Harare Mayor Elias Mudzuri said nearly all the engineers had left the
council. "We now have many incompetent people running city affairs because the
[national] government bullied its way into council affairs," he said. "[Local
Government Minister] Chombo is an educationist, not an engineer," he added.
Harare's regular power cuts flow from a crippling foreign exchange shortage that
prevents the Zimbabwe government from servicing its debts to Eskom and
Mozambique's Cahora Bassa.
Zimbabwe's Standard newspaper has estimated that the Zimbabwe Electricty
Authority owes $200-million, of which $12-million (R70-million) is owed to
However, Eskom spokesperson Fani Zulu said Zesa owed Eskom "less than
R15-million". Eskom was in no way responsible for Harare's power cuts. "Several
schools may have to be shut down," Mabhawu said. "Children can't use filthy
latrines * it's a health hazard."
Driving into town from Mabvuku, one sees meandering fuel queues that have
resurfaced since the elections. Most Harare garages have run dry.
The woes of Harare residents are compounded by a shortage of basic food
commodities at most supermarkets. Sugar, maize meal, cooking oil and margarine
have disappeared from shelves.
The MDC on Wednesday said Zimbabwe had run out of food, including the national
staple, maize, and demanded an apology from President Robert Robert Mugabe's
government for lying about abundant harvests. "The country has run out of maize,
this a fact," Renson Gasela, MDC's shadow agriculture minister told a news
The government, which last year claimed Zimbabwe had produced a bumper harvest,
should apologise for misleading Zimbabweans and start approaching international
aid donors, Gasela said.
Mugabe admitted before the parliamentary elections in March that Zimbabwe would
have to import grain following drought and a poor harvest.
Interfin Securities economist Farayi Dyirakumunda said shortages of fuel and
basic commodities were linked to Zimbabwe's critical forex problem.
"People could be holding back on fuel supplies in anticipation of a devaluation
of the Zimdollar, which would trigger price hikes," Dyirakumunda said.
"Many producers of basic food commodities have scaled down their operations
because they don't have forex to import inputs," he said. "The government has
aggravated the situation with price controls."
Zimbabwean economist Eric Block confirmed that the country's economy was "in
continuing decline", and that Harare was suffering from a lack of forex to
maintain equipment and buy water purification chemicals. Tourism was depressed,
because of both the political climate and rising prices.
The only bright spot was the fall in the inflation rate from a high of 622% in
January 2004 to its current 123%.
However, Block predicted inflation would start rising again because of oil price
increases and Zimbabwe's poor harvest. The country had produced only a third of
the basic foodstuffs required to feed the population. Drought was a factor in
this, but "chaos in the agricultural sector" had also played its part. Block
suggested the government had subsidised food prices before the election, but
said this was not sustainable.
Further Debt Relief Depends On Corruption Action
April 22, 2005
Posted to the web May 2, 2005
Malawi is unlikely to secure further debt relief until its director of public
prosecutions, Ismail Wadi concludes corruption cases and bring the culprits to
British High Commissioner to Malawi David Peary said this month that the
zero-tolerance for corruption policy was commendable policy, but his country
needed to see more action and focus. Britain is the country's major donor.
So far landmark cases have seen senior politicians arrested but the cases have
stalled with the accused out on bail. The aggressive fight against corruption
has been President Bingu wa Mutharika's most important political move in his 11
months rule and has helped him win respect from pre-election critics, observed
Civil and church organisations are clamouring for the immediate arrest of
ex-president Bakili Muluzi, who they claim may be stacking his plundered fortune
in banks abroad. Political analysts, however, fear this could generate anarchy.
The so-called zero tolerance policy has led to the arrest of senior officials of
the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF), the party that sponsored Mutharika to
Former finance minister Friday Jumbe, former chief executive for parastatal
Shire Bus Lines Humphrey Mvula, and UDF southern region governor John Chikakwiya
were some of the UDF officials arrested on fraud, corruption and theft-related
Government says fiscal discipline holds the key to the country having its
outstanding external debt of U$3 billion written off by the IMF and World Bank.
Treasury secretary, Milton Kutengule said, "Malawi will use democratisation and
fiscal prudence as its main bargaining tool for debt cancellation to win the
multilateral donors," adding that, "Observance of clear economic policies and
framework, good management of the budget and corrupt free society are other key
factors to success."
Britain says it will give Malawi 60 million pounds grant for the 2004/05 budget
but has asked government to show more action in its anti-corruption drive.
Britain is pleased overall with Malawi's macroeconomic economic management.
Of its £60 million grant £20m is budgetary support while the rest will support
programmes in health, education, security and other sectors.
Britain's Department for International Development (DFID), the US Agency for
International Development (USAID) and the Malawi government funded the Kw250
million rehabilitation of bridges swept away by floods and the Central East
Africa Railways, the route to Indian Ocean through Nacala.
Drought Hits Maize Production
April 22, 2005
Posted to the web May 2, 2005
Malawi's maize production has declined by 24 percent this year due to a dry
Maize production is estimated at 1.3 million tonnes, a decrease of 24 percent,
the agriculture ministry said in a statement.
Its final crop assessment had shown a "significant reduction in the production
of maize," and that Malawi, badly affected by a dry spell, would need 2.1
million tonnes of maize to stave off famine.
Malawi has on average an annual production of two million tons of maize, the
national staple food, enough to feed its 11 million people.
The ministry said it had set up a committee to assess the impact of the drought
on the population and to identify people who will need food aid.
Malawi had not by mid month made any international appeal for food aid.
Zim to force professionals into govt service
02 May 2005 11:17
advertisementThe Zimbabwe government, keen to stem the flight of professionals
from the economically-ravaged country, will force some graduates to work in
government service, it was reported on Sunday.
Many professionals will be bonded to government institutions after they graduate
in a bid to stop them leaving for better-paid jobs outside Zimbabwe, the
state-controlled Sunday Mail reported.
"The government will soon compel professionals trained using state resources in
universities, polytechnics and colleges to work in the civil service for some
time before they can be allowed to join the private sector or legally work in
other countries," the paper said.
Likely to be affected are workers in the health sector, lawyers, engineers and
technicians, where labour shortages are highest.
Washington Mbizvo, an official in the country's ministry of higher education,
said the recommendations have been forwarded to President Robert Mugabe, the
Sunday Mail reported.
"The whole exercise involved nine ministries which came up with the
recommendations and the document has already been submitted to the Chief
Secretary to the President and Cabinet," he said.
So many doctors have left Zimbabwe in recent years that now one doctor has to do
the work of seven, the local Daily Mirror recently reported.
Zimbabwe has had to resort to hiring expatriate doctors from Cuba and the
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The once-prosperous southern African country has been in the grip of a severe
economic crisis for the past five years. - Sapa-dpa
Can Zimbabwe get any worse?
30 April 2005 08:58
Petrol queues stretched more than two miles through Harare yesterday as
President Robert Mugabe's government effectively admitted that Zimbabwe faced
shortages of vital supplies including its staple food, maize.
Frustrated motorists lined up for dwindling fuel supplies after weeks in which
hundreds of thousands of households have been without running water and
neighbourhoods have been blacked out by power cuts.
Yesterday it was announced that 1,2-million tonnes of maize was being bought
from abroad to bolster supplies.
But it was not clear how the government would pay for this as Zimbabwe has a
dire shortage of the foreign currency needed to import goods.
The government is also short of the money to buy the imported chemicals needed
to treat water, as well as numerous other necessities.
"So many things are going wrong at the same time that people are getting into a
panic," said a Harare factory worker, who did not want to be named.
"No fuel, no food to eat. Next we won't have enough air to breathe," she said.
"We all know the Mugabe government held things together until the elections and
now they are just letting things collapse."
Mike Davies, the chairperson of the Harare Ratepayers' Association, agreed. "The
city is crumbling," he said. "Water and power cuts are widespread. The people
who have run the city for 25 years have failed us."
The food and fuel shortages are even worse in the southern city of Bulawayo,
according to residents.
Zimbabwe's agriculture-based economy used to produce enough food to feed the
population. Plenty of high-grade tobacco once earned enough foreign exchange for
the country's import needs.
But Mugabe has now acknowledged that the chaos stemming from his seizures of
white-owned farms has left less than half the country's farmland under
A season of marginal rains has brought a devastating crop failure. Aid agencies
say about 4 million people -- a third of the population -- will need food aid
"We have put in place a package where we are going to have over 1,2-million
tonnes coming into the country over the next few months," said Samuel Muvuti,
the chief executive of the state grain marketing board.
The announcement contradicts the government's earlier claims of a bumper
The tobacco crop is 70% smaller than it was in 2000 when the government's
"fast-track" seizures of 5 000 farms began. The quality of the tobacco is
reported to have declined, and international buyers are offering lower prices.
The critical shortage of hard cash was evident at the state's weekly auction of
foreign currency, where only US$11-million was available -- when fuel importers
alone needed $230-million.
Anthony Hawkins, a professor at the University of Zimbabwe business school, told
the Guardian he was surprised by the speed at which things had fallen apart
after last month's parliamentary elections, in which Mugabe's Zanu-PF party
"The shortages are a result of the government's lack of foreign exchange," he
said. "It's amazing how quickly this collapse occurred. They managed to patch
things up until the elections, but the day after voting the shortages appeared.
"It is obviously very serious. I don't see any easy way out."
International economists say the Mugabe government has exacerbated its economic
problems by keeping the Zimbabwean dollar artificially high. Yesterday the
exchange rate put the Zimbabwean currency at 6 114 to one US dollar. But on the
thriving black market the rate was nearly three times higher, at 17 000 to one.
Economists say the unrealistic exchange rate hurts exporters such as gold mines
But despite the dire shortage of foreign exchange, the government struck a deal
this month to buy Chinese jet fighters. - Guardian Unlimited © Guardian
Newspapers Limited 2005
Zimbabwe: Less press, little freedom
Sekai Ngara | Harare
03 May 2005 07:17
advertisementLittle has changed one year after Zimbabwe earned itself a place on
a list of the world's worst places to be a journalist, published by the New
York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
Another of the country's few independent publications, The Weekly Times, was
forced to close shop earlier this year, after having its licence withdrawn by
the state-controlled Media and Information Commission (MIC).
Under Zimbabwe's 2002 Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(AIPPA), journalists and publishing houses must apply to the MIC for a licence
News organisations are not allowed to employ journalists who have failed to
register with the commission. Those reporters who are caught practising without
MIC's blessing face imprisonment of up to two years.
The Weekly Times followed in the footsteps of Zimbabwe's sole privately-owned
daily, The Daily News, that was banned in 2003 along with its sister paper, The
Daily News on Sunday.
Another independent weekly, The Tribune, also had its licence withdrawn in 2004.
Licences for journalists have to be renewed every twelve months, while those for
publishing houses are good for two years.
"The fear that one's licence may not be renewed if he or she writes something
the government may not like has introduced a certain element of
self-censorship," says Foster Dongozi, Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Union
of Journalists and a senior reporter for The Standard, an independent weekly.
Dongozi describes the MIC's requests for information as intrusive.
"Beside... your educational qualifications, you also need to give details such
as your place of residence, your private phone numbers, e-mail address, passport
details and the details of your spouse, where she works etc."
This has fuelled fears, he adds, that the MIC is little more than an
intelligence-gathering body set up by a state sensitive to the numerous
allegations of poor governance and human rights abuse that have been made
Those who have the appropriate documents in hand are said to face hostility from
government officials and members of the ruling Zanu-PF party, with certain of
its officials accusing reporters of gathering information for the opposition.
"Reporters have been harassed [at] ruling party events," says Dongozi, who
claims that the main opposition group, the Movement for Democratic Change, has
also been known to look askance at journalists from the state-owned media.
The Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Bill makes it an offence to
communicate information that proves to be false, and which may promote "public
disorder or public violence" in Zimbabwe.
The law places reporters who are unable to substantiate facts with recalcitrant
government officials in the position of having to hold-off on publishing
important stories indefinitely, lest the items prove inaccurate.
Anyone falling foul of the Criminal Law Bill is liable for a heavy fine or
imprisonment of up to twenty years or both. Another clause in the Bill
criminalises "abusive and indecent" statements about the presidency.
The country's new minister of information, Tichaona Jokonya, has voiced a desire
to improve relations between government and the independent media.
Jokonya replaced Jonathan Moyo, widely believed to have been AIPPA's architect,
after he was booted out of Zanu-PF for defying a party directive and standing as
an independent candidate in the March 31 parliamentary elections.
At a recent meeting of editors from the private and state media, Jokonya invited
journalists to come up with ways in which AIPPA could be amended to make the act
Vincent Kahiya, editor of the weekly The Independent", who attended the meeting,
said: "What remains to be seen is whether the system will allow him to carry out
his agenda. It can very well be diplomatic posturing."
He added that the media should make use of what he described as a "window of
uncertainty" to engage the new information minister.
Crucially, Jokonya has said he believes AIPPA should stay on the books, albeit
with possible amendments.
The ultimate arbiter of any possible change to the Act, President Robert Mugabe,
still appears supportive of the law.
In an interview with the South African Broadcasting Corporation after his party
won the parliamentary election, Mugabe described AIPPA as "a good law", and said
it would stay.
As the international community marks World Press Freedom Day on Tuesday, such
words are unlikely to inspire confidence amongst reporters in Zimbabwe. -
Malawi: Misguided Policy Exacerbates Food Insecurity, Claims Report
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
May 3, 2005
Posted to the web May 3, 2005
Government interventions aimed at boosting food security in Malawi have had the
opposite effect, according to a recent report.
The report argues that the government's attempt to provide fertiliser to farmers
helped create a shortage in 2004. In 2001/02 the state's attempt to fix the
maize price to make it more accessible to the poor led to the price of the
'Do no harm? How well intentioned (but misguided) government actions exacerbate
food insecurity: Two case studies from Malawi' [pdf],
http://allafrica.com/sustainable/resources/view/00010633.pdf produced by
researcher Lawrence Rubey argues that poor weather and the sale of the country's
strategic grain reserves were not the only factors behind widespread food
shortages in 2001/02.
Rubey concluded that the spike "in maize prices in late 2001 ... coupled with
the long-term deterioration in rural incomes, triggered the crisis".
Malawi's maize markets were liberalised in the mid-1990s, allowing private
traders to buy and sell maize at market prices.
"However, to this day, the government of Malawi continues to play a role in
maize markets alongside private sector traders, mostly by selling maize through
ADMARC, the agricultural marketing ... parastatal. During the 2001/02 period
ADMARC attempted to subsidise maize, ostensibly to help consumers gain access to
low-priced maize," the report noted.
"However, ... these attempts by ADMARC to stabilise maize prices for the poor
had the unfortunate effect of making maize prices more volatile." This "actually
exacerbated the crisis", the study found.
In September 2001 ADMARC set a fixed price of Kwacha 17 (about US $0.15) per
kilogram for maize sold through its depots.
"This price remained unaltered for the next 18 months. But, in comparison to
prevailing market prices in 2001, this ADMARC price was 'too low': that is, the
ADMARC price was below the prevailing market price in both Malawi and
neighbouring countries. Private sector traders, including those that engaged in
cross-border trade, saw no opportunities to sell at a profitable price in
Malawi," the report pointed out.
Conversely, "there were clear incentives to export Malawian maize to other
countries in the region, where consumer prices were not being kept artificially
As a result, few private traders regarded importing maize as a profitable
venture, but as the 2001/02 "hungry [lean] season progressed, ADMARC was not
able to keep up with demand and many ADMARC depots ran out of maize".
With no subsidised ADMARC maize available, "consumers had to turn to private
markets ... given the limited private sector supply, maize was scarce and prices
for maize in local markets skyrocketed, quadrupling in some cases in just a few
months", Rubey noted.
The above case study, "offers a cautionary tale of how government's good
intentions can backfire and actually harm consumers. While consumer maize
subsidies are seen as 'beneficial' to consumers, the 'benefit' can be
short-lived. The experience of 2001/02 suggests that when ADMARC-subsidised
maize stocks ran out, maize prices shot up much more than they otherwise would
have", greatly limiting access to the staple.
The ADMARC subsidies created a disincentive for private sector imports, which
normally had a moderating effect on prices.
The second case study focused on the fertiliser shortage of 2004.
"As the planting season began in November, almost two-thirds of fertiliser
imports had not arrived in Malawi," the report observed.
The government of Malawi had announced a fertiliser subsidy, causing farmers to
delay purchasing fertiliser and "restricting the ability of fertiliser dealers
to import planned levels ... in a timely manner".
In June 2004 "government officials revealed plans for a new fertiliser subsidy
scheme that would bring down the price of fertiliser, and continued to advise
farmers to hold off in buying fertiliser. Farmers apparently listened to the
government recommendations and waited for the planned subsidy to be put in
This was evidenced by slow fertiliser sales from August to October, generally a
brisk period for dealers.
"Since most importers order fertiliser in multiple orders, using the proceeds of
the first orders to fund later orders, less cash flow had a chilling effect on
follow-up orders. Fertiliser stocks were not moving, and there was no reason for
importers to order more stocks (all inorganic fertiliser in Malawi is
imported)," the report explained.
At the same time the planned fertiliser subsidy scheme "hit some snags".
By September reports emerged that the subsidy scheme could be dropped in favour
of free farm input packs for two million households.
"But the subsidy scheme resurfaced later that month in a presidential speech.
Finally, in late October, the government reached agreement with a key donor for
the distribution of free farm inputs to two million households through the
targeted input programme (TIP). The fertiliser subsidy scheme that had been
announced in June 2004 was quietly forgotten," Rubey commented.
As a result of the slow pace of follow-up orders, stemming from low sales during
the July-October period when farmers were holding out for the proposed subsidy,
just over a third of the necessary fertiliser was in Malawi by the end of
"In November 2004, the main planting rains arrived. A large, but ultimately
unknown, percentage of farmers planted maize and tobacco without initial
fertiliser applications. There are now fears that Malawi will face a reduced
harvest in 2005 ... triggering another hike in maize prices, and a possible food
crisis," the report concluded.
Malawi is one of several southern African countries that experienced extended
dry spells during January and February - a critical point in the crop
development cycle - and now faces widespread cereal deficits.
Malawi: Economic Performance Making No Dent On Poverty - Report
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
May 4, 2005
Posted to the web May 4, 2005
Malawi's lacklustre economic performance will have to improve dramatically if
the lives of its 11 million people are to be bettered, according to a United
States Agency for International Development (USAID) report.
'Economic Performance Assessment: Malawi' was compiled by Nathan Associates Inc.
for USAID, and based on an examination of key economic and social indicators,
including growth, poverty levels (65 percent of Malawians live below the poverty
line), and access to healthcare and education.
"Rapid and broad-based growth is the most powerful instrument for poverty
reduction. At the same time, measures to invest in human capital, reduce
poverty, and lessen inequality help to underpin rapid and sustainable growth.
These interactions create the potential for a virtuous cycle of economic
transformation and human development," the report pointed out.
However, "the data analysis for Malawi reveals serious problems in numerous
areas, and few signs of healthy performance. Overall, Malawi urgently needs to
follow through on recent efforts to strengthen macroeconomic management, as a
starting point, and to take serious steps toward further improvement of the
enabling environment for private sector development," the researchers commented.
"This will entail deeper reforms, control of corruption, infrastructure
investment, and better health and education programmes, within the limits sets
by very scarce resources," they added.
With an estimated per capita GDP of just $165 in 2004, the country has remained
one of the poorest in the world. "The need for rapid and sustained economic
growth is acute. Yet, over the past five years, growth has averaged just 1.2
percent per year, never exceeding 4.0 percent," the researchers pointed out.
This meant that "in absolute terms, growth is far too low to deliver improved
standards of living or adequate income opportunities for a population that is
growing by 2.1 percent per year".
To progress towards prosperity, the country had to achieve a sustained and
"broad-based growth of no less than five percent".
This was the central economic challenge facing the government and the donor
"One vital question that must be asked ... is whether the political foundation
exists in Malawi for achieving rapid growth. Is there the political will for
sound economic policies and institutions? Is there an effective constituency for
effective pro-growth policies? How can these be strengthened?" the authors
Rafiq Hajat, director of the Blantyre-based Institute for Policy Interaction,
believes the political will does exist.
"In the previous session's budget, 90 percent of the pro-poor expenditure that
was in the budget had actually been utilised, and it had probably the highest
[budget allocation]. So, there is the [political] will, and it tallies with
political survival - if you can improve the lot of poor people at grassroots
level, your political survival is assured," Hajat said.
According to the report, since 2002 the government had "demonstrated new resolve
to rein in excessive expenditure and bring inflation under control" - a vital
requirement for stimulating economic growth.
However, "even with strong revenue mobilisation and improved public expenditure
management ... Malawi is too poor to afford vital expenditure programmes without
major support from the international community," the report added.
In terms of curbing state expenditure, Hajat said "it will take at least four to
five years to do this, as it requires a paradigm shift; a change of culture
within ministries and the civil service that cannot be achieved overnight".
With regard to improving the country's economic performance, Hajat noted that
the fair trade agenda was an issue that needed to be highlighted.
"Has Malawi ever, historically, received fair terms of trade? When the American
farmer is paid $4.15 for a kilogram of tobacco - which is out of favour in
America anyway - and that figure is highly subsidised, why do American companies
pay Malawi farmers $0.17 cents per kilogram?
"How is a tiny landlocked country like Malawi ever going to sustain itself? So,
before we get to macroeconomic policy, we need to talk about fair trade," Hajat
He pointed out that tobacco sales accounted for 76 percent of Malawi's foreign
"Maybe, instead of aid we should be getting a fair price - if we got $2.50 per
kilogram of tobacco, it would give us balance-of-payments surplus. We don't have
a cake to share, let alone [the ability] to share it properly," Hajat concluded.
Macroeconomic management problems have prevented Malawi from qualifying for
Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) concessional loans from the
International Monetary Fund (IMF).
According to a recent IMF statement, the government has made good progress in
"demonstrating its commitment to sound macroeconomic policies" and talks
regarding a PRGF arrangement were underway.
View the full report at:
Mozambique mansion budget slashed
Mozambique's government has substantially cut the money allocated for a luxury
beach-front mansion for the former president, Joaquim Chissano.
Finance Minister Manuel Chang said the $2.5m budget for the mansion would be cut
by 60%, as the current government had other priorities to attend to.
Mr Chissano stepped down earlier this year after ruling one of Africa's poorest
countries for 18 years.
His cabinet approved the plan for the retirement house when he was in power.
Mr Chang said the former president's mansion project needed to be reconsidered
as the current government was in the process of cutting costs.
The BBC's Jose Tembe says people in the capital Maputo, where the house is going
to be built, are pleased with the government's decision.
"I don't see the need for the state to spend that much money on a single person.
In a country like Mozambique we should be more modest," one resident told the
BBC's Network Africa programme.
Mozambique's parliament is set to discuss and approve the government's 2005
budget next week, our correspondent says.
During Mr Chissano's time in power, he oversaw a move away from Marxism and the
introduction of a multi-party constitution.
His chosen successor Armando Guebuza, who won last December's presidential
elections, promised to fight corruption, bureaucracy and poverty on taking
Malawi: World Bank Approves Grant to Support Education Sector
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
May 5, 2005
Posted to the web May 5, 2005
The World Bank has announced a US $32.2 million programme to boost Malawi's
Dr Michael Mambo, the World Bank education specialist for Malawi and Zambia,
told IRIN that the programme should start "sometime in July", and run for five
The Education Sector Support programme "aims to enhance education quality by
improving the conditions and processes of teaching and learning at the school
level. It will also help increase the number of qualified teachers, improve the
capacity and the quality of education service delivery by fostering community
participation, and strengthen the management of human and financial resources at
district and primary school levels," the Bank said in a statement.
"The grant is basically for constructing a teachers' college, and refurbishing
or rehabilitating four secondary schools in the [country's] three provinces. It
will also provide school health nutrition packages for all primary schools in
Malawi," Mambo noted.
The grant focused on improving the quality of education in Malawi, because
"there's not much point expanding something that's not worth anything, so whilst
addressing access [to education] issues, we also need to address the quality
issues", he explained.
A further aim of the programme was "to provide money directly to the schools, to
spend on items such as chalk; the basics that they don't get, normally", Mambo
The World Bank also wants Malawi to review its current education policies.
"The other component is to do with policy reforms, which we want the government
to look at - the higher education policies, language policies, teacher
deployment policy. They don't have a language policy to start with; teacher
deployment is skewed toward the urban areas, to the detriment of rural areas;
and in higher education too much money is spent on non-core activities - like
feeding and housing of students," Mambo commented.
The Bank noted that "by improving learning outcomes at all levels, the project
will enhance conditions for school effectiveness that will contribute to changes
in the behaviours of teachers and students".
According to the Bank, the bulk of its grant, $15.5 million, will be spent on
"teacher capacity development [that] will complement government and donors'
efforts to improve quality, and expand the capacity of teacher development and
training at all levels".
Improving the condition of selected secondary schools, staffed with trained
teachers or newly trained teachers, will take up $3.7 million.
A third component of the programme, "Direct Support to Primary Schools", will
also receive $3.7 million for basic learning materials, "while strengthening the
participation of communities in school management".
Nutritional support and health packages to primary schools will cost $3 million,
including the distribution of vitamin A and iron-folic acids to schoolchildren
under 10 years of age, and de-worming, malaria and fever treatments.
An allocation of $1.4 million will go towards the development of a "medium- to
long-term prioritised and costed education sector strategic plan", the Bank
said. "This will form the base for a future sector-wide approach programme ...
and capacity building plan for training Ministry of Education staff at central
and decentralised levels".
Malawi: Civil Society Concerned Over Govt's Maize Budget
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
May 6, 2005
Posted to the web May 6, 2005
Malawian civil society has expressed concern that a proposed increase in the
national maize budget may be inadequate to meet purchasing requirements, as
production this year could fall short by 300,000 mt to 500,000 mt.
A second round of crop estimates by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and
Food Security indicated a possible drop of around 25 percent, from about 1.7
million mt last season to about 1.3 million mt this season. Malawi's annual
maize requirement is just under 2 million mt.
"The government has informally told us that they intend to buy an additional
60,000 mt of maize, while we are negotiating for at least another 200,000 mt,"
said Collins Magalasi, national coordinator of the Malawi Economic Justice
Network, an umbrella body of NGOs.
Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe announced last week that government would
increase the allocation for maize in next month's 2005/06 budget, but did not
indicate the amount being set aside.
"Government is increasing the maize budget to accommodate the purchase of
adequate quantities of maize to meet part of the food gap, as reported in our
food balance sheet for the 2005/06 season," principal secretary for agriculture,
Andrew Daudi, told IRIN.
However, Magalasi commented, "The government has told us that the remainder of
the gap will be covered by other foods, such as potatoes, but we have told them
in our submission that if it did not procure an additional 200,000 mt we could
have people starving."
The price of maize had already begun to spiral in Malawi, he said. "The price of
maize meal has shot from about US 17 cents to about 33 cents per kg within a
week." The price of corn-on-the-cob had also increased by about 15 percent.
The USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) cautioned in a
recent report that maize prices might soon go up unless appropriate
interventions were undertaken, or sufficient maize was imported in informal
"However, if traders take advantage of the situation and charge exorbitant
prices for their maize, poor households will suffer as a result. The warning
about impending hunger is loud and clear - the different food security
stakeholders should start making plans to address the situation if a food crisis
is to be avoided," said FEWS NET.
Agriculture experts have blamed government for poor fertiliser distribution by
the Targeted Input Programme, which was contributing to food insecurity in the
Daudi countered this by saying, "Several issues should be looked at when you
talk about production of maize as a food crop - you could have fertilisers, but
without rain ... it is impossible to achieve food security."
Malawi asks for aid to avert food crisis
Raphael Tenthani | Blantyre
10 May 2005 01:44
The International Monetary Fund on Monday said Malawi's government has asked for
international aid to avert widespread hunger following a poor harvest of its
staple maize crop.
Malawi needs 2,1-million tonnes of maize each year to feed its 11-million
people. Drought has reduced this year's harvest to 1,3-million tonnes.
Thomas Baunsgaard, the IMF representative in Malawi, told a news conference that
the IMF, the government, the World Bank and international donors are discussing
how much money is needed and how to fund the request.
Opposition politicians and civil society organisations have called on the
government of President Bingu wa Mutharika to declare the food crisis a national
The IMF, which suspended aid to Malawi three years ago because of concerns about
government spending, asked the government in April to conduct a crop assessment.
It expressed concern about the impact of drought on agricultural output and on
the country's budget.
Baunsgaard said the assessment confirmed that the country has a food shortage.
Food security is a continuing problem in Malawi where an estimated 60% of rural
households are unable to meet nutritional needs. More than 60% of Malawians live
on less than one US dollar a day. - Sapa-AP
Guebuza Calls for Closer Cooperation With Malawi
Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo)
May 7, 2005
Posted to the web May 9, 2005
Mozambican President Armando Guebuza on Friday night urged Mozambique and Malawi
to advance rapidly together to exploit common economic opportunities.
He was speaking at a banquet in his honour, given by his Malawian host Bingu Wa
Mutharika, at the end of the first day of his working visit to Malawi.
Guebuza was particularly concerned at stepping up cooperation in transport. He
said that the Nacala and Mtwara Development Corridors were projects in which
Mozambique and Malawi can work together and with other neighbouring countries
(such as Tanzania and Zambia).
Such cooperation, he said, could contribute to the economic integration of the
member states of SADC (Southern African Development Community).
Cooperation prospects in the field of energy were also crucial, the Mozambican
leader added. Mozambique is interested in selling power from the Cahora Bassa
dam on the Zambezi to Malawi. "With access to Cahora Bassa electricity, Malawi
will be in a better position to exploit much further its own resources, to the
benefit of the Malawian and Mozambican peoples", said Guebuza.
Bingu Wa Mutharika told his guest that Malawi could never achieve development
without cooperation with Mozambique. His landlocked country needed the
Mozambican ports of Nacala and Beira for its trade.
He confirmed that the Malawian government wants to open a further route to the
sea through Mozambique, by using river transport. The Malawian idea is to send
vessels from the port of Nsanje on the Shire river down the Shire and Zambezi to
the small Mozambican port of Chinde, near the mouth of the Zambezi. This river
trip is 238 kilometres long.
Mutharika admitted that Malawi has a shortage of electricity, and that importing
power from Cahora Bassa "can promote the development of our industry".
He stressed the historic and cultural ties between the two countries.
"Mozambicans and Malawians are a single people", he claimed, "sharing the same
traditions and same cultural expressions". The borders between them were a mere
creation of colonial rule.
He congratulated Mozambique on the peaceful elections of December 2004, won by
Guebuza and the ruling Frelimo Party. But he had nothing to say about Malawian
politics, and the bitter dispute between himself and his predecessor, Bakili
Muluzi continues to head the United Democratic Front (UDF), which supported
Mutharika in last year's elections. But in February Mutharika left the UDF and
set up his own Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Fears have been expressed that the tensions between followers of Muluzi and of
Mutharika could degenerate into violence.
In what may have been an elliptical reference to such fears, Mutharika stressed
in his Friday speech the need to preserve peace, stability and democracy in
Malawi and in the region.
Mozambique Yet to Decide On River Transport Project
Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo)
May 9, 2005
Posted to the web May 9, 2005
The Mozambican government has yet to take a decision on the river transport
project proposed by the Malawian authorities to link Nsanje, on the Shire river,
in Malawi, to the small Mozambican port of Chinde, near the mouth of the
Addressing a press conference in Lilongwe on Saturday, at the end of a two day
visit to Malawi, Mozambican President Armando Guebuza said that his government
is waiting for a specific proposal from the Malawians.
He said the Mozambican authorities are open to help carry out this kind of
project, but nothing was yet decided in respect of this particular undertaking.
Guebuza added, however, that the Mozambican government will study the issue to
determine its feasibility or otherwise.
Guebuza's Malawian counterpart, Bingu Wa Mutharika, argued that the river
transport project will reduce significantly the cost of Malawi's imports and
exports. He also stressed that it in no way lessens Malawi's commitment to the
Nacala and Mtwara Development corridors, further north.
The Malawian authorities want this project, which they have budgeted at five
million dollars, to become part of the New Partnership for Africa's Development
Before leaving Malawi, Guebuza had lunch with the local business community in
Blantyre, the Malawian economic capital, and invited them to invest in
Guebuza explained that the Mozambican government is taking steps to facilitate
foreign investment in the country, including the fight against red tape and
For his part, Wa Mutharika urged the businessmen to take advantage of the
growing cooperation between the two countries.
He also told them of the Malawian government's efforts to import electricity
produced by the Cahora Bassa hydroelectric dam, in the western Mozambican
province of Tete, as a means to improve the reliability of Malawi's power
Mugabe attacks continue
10 May 2005 07:19
The Zimbabwe government's abuse of human rights activists has not slowed down
since the March election that extended the power of President Robert Mugabe,
Amnesty International says in a report on Tuesday.
The report says it "noted with growing concern the government's continuing
repression of human rights defenders." It says that "recent incidents of
arbitrary arrest, assault and intimidation have raised fears for the safety of
individual defenders and further undermine the prospects of any significant
reform of the human rights situation in Zimbabwe."
Mugabe's Zanu-PF party won 78 of the 120 seats contested in the March 31
elections that the opposition and many international organisations dismiss as
The Amnesty report catalogued several incidents of torture allegedly perpetrated
by the Zimbabwe police. It said the government had not investigated the torture
charges or made any arrests.
Among the worst cases of harassment listed was of the activist group Women of
Zimbabwe Arise (Woza).
Woza activists have been verbally and physically abused in police custody and
denied access to lawyers, food and water," said Amnesty. It added that
government critics frequently suffer physical violence, arbitrary arrests and
charges. - Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005
New tomb for Malawi's Banda
By Aubrey Sumbuleta
BBC News, Lilongwe
Work has begun on a new mausoleum for Malawi's autocratic first president,
Hastings Kamuzu Banda, but some feel the money would be better used buying food.
Harvests in one of the world's poorest countries have been poor once more.
The idea of building a mausoleum has been around for many years but construction
only started following last year's election victory of President Bingu wa
Banda, the self-styled "president-for-life" ruled the country with an iron fist
for three decades, but was finally beaten at the ballot box in 1994 in the
country's first multi-party elections.
After his death three years later, he was buried in a humble grave.
The multi-million dollar mausoleum is expected to have, among other things, a
library, a dancing arena, a viewing bay for Banda's remains and a research
centre where people can find out information about Malawi's history.
The project architect for Banda's mausoleum, Knight Munthali, says work is
"You can see the chamber which houses the original tomb where Kamuzu is
resting," he says.
"It is on two levels. The lower level is the chamber. The upper level is a
public area with a replica of the tomb and lighting that will make it visible
even at night."
He did not mention libraries or dance-floors, but the scale of the project is
During the first official visit, were members of the Banda family.
"We are very happy with the progress being made on the construction site," says
their spokesperson, Ken Kandodo.
"We have been informed today that 10% of the work has been done. And the project
is on schedule for completion in November. If you consider what Dr Banda did for
this country, all that is being planned is well deserved."
But John Tembo, Banda's former right-hand man and the leader of his party, has
some reservations about the project.
"I am happy that it has started but I am not sure sufficient is being done to
honour him," he says.
"I think we are rushing it. We want to make sure that it is done properly."
Since the project kicked off two months ago, people have expressed mixed
feelings about the mausoleum.
Waste of money
While some support the government's plans, others feel the authorities should
concentrate on the acute shortage of food that is facing Malawi this year.
"The project is good, because Kamuzu is the father and founder of this nation,"
said one man in the capital, Lilongwe.
"We are just wasting our 65 million for this graveyard," said another man.
"People in Malawi are suffering from different diseases and they are hungry. The
government should deal with this hunger. So my view is that I am not happy with
Culture Minister Henry Chimunthu Banda (no relation of the former ruler) says
the government has a duty to honour the dead, as well as look after the living.
"Culturally, whether there is hunger or not, the dead are always given their due
respect," he says.
"What we are doing here is not wasting money. We are honouring the former head
Hastings Kamuzu Banda died in November 1997.
Despite mixed feelings about the construction, it seems like the mausoleum will
be finished in November - in time for the eighth anniversary of his death.
Malawi: IMF to Help With Maize Shortfall
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
May 10, 2005
Posted to the web May 10, 2005
The government of Malawi has requested financial assistance from the
international community to address an expected maize shortfall, according to the
International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Following consultations in Lilongwe, the IMF said in a statement that it was
"working with the Malawian government, international donors and the World Bank
to identify ... resources" to fill the expected food gap.
IMF resident representative Thomas Baunsgaard commented that "government and the
donors are still discussing how much assistance should be given".
Like several other countries in Southern Africa, Malawi has experienced
prolonged dry spells at critical points in the crop development cycle and now
faces the prospect of widespread food shortages.
The office of the UN Resident Representative in Malawi said results from the
latest crop assessment, released by the Ministry of Agriculture on 1 April,
pointed to "impending hunger".
Maize production forecasts are 24.6 percent below last year's poor harvest,
while prolonged drought conditions have reduced the sweet potato harvest by 12.8
percent and foreign currency earning tobacco by 12.5 percent.
An IMF mission visited Lilongwe, the capital, from 19-29 April to review
Malawi's performance under the staff monitored programme (SMP) and hold
discussions on the possible resumption of a Poverty Reduction and Growth
Facility (PRGF) - the IMF's concessional loan scheme to poor countries.
"The mission reached tentative understandings with the government on a
macroeconomic framework and policies that would be covered under a PRGF
arrangement. Talks on a macro-framework for 2005/06 fully accommodated the
substantial scaling-up of resources for the health sector, and government maize
purchases for humanitarian and buffer-stock purposes," the Fund noted.
It said Malawi's performance under the SMP had "remained strong" and "all key
quantitative performance criteria were met, with the exception of an overrun on
the government payroll that stemmed from the civil service pay reform undertaken
in October 2004".
"The costs of the wage reforms were initially underestimated because of the
complexity of the old [pay] system," the IMF explained.
Despite this, "the overall performance under the SMP reflects a high degree of
commitment by the government to adhere to its budget. This is a noteworthy
turnaround from the experience in previous years."
The IMF mission also noted the "good progress" made by the government in
upgrading government expenditure controls during the current fiscal year.
I filled out this survey, and thought I'd pass on the opportunity. Some parts get a little tiring, where you have to keep picking a number from 1 to 10, but it's nice to help out a fellow RPCV.
Note: forwarded message attached.
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Take Yahoo! Mail with you! Check email on your mobile phone.
Hi dear, do you have a listserve you could forward this to?
Hello all! Someone who was in Lesotho shortly before me as a PCV is writing her dissertation about
coming home. If you've got a moment, could you look at the survey and
fill it out and forward the survey onto other RPCV's.
> > Hi my name is Nicole Bosustow and I am an Returned
> > Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) from Lesotho,
> > Africa 1997-1999. I am currently working on getting
> > my doctorate in clinical psychology and as
> > part of my graduation requirements I am writing my
> > dissertation on the process of returning home
> > after serving in the Peace Corps. I am conducting
> > an online survey so as to reach as many RPCVs
> > as possible and to make sure responses are kept
> > anonymous. I would greatly appreciate your
> > participation in my study. It takes about 20-25
> > minutes of your time and as I said it is
> > completely anonymous. To participate please click
> > the link below.
> > Thank you so much for your time, your participation
> > will hopefully benefit future volunteers by
> > adding to the knowledge we have about the returning
> > home process.
> > Sincerely,
> > Nicole Bosustow
Here is a beautiful (if I do say so myself) series of photos for your
enjoyment. Never have I seen a brother and sister get along so well...
It seems that one of them got ahold of a jar of peanuts...a mediocre midday
snack, but since it was shared, there are mitigating circumstances.....
Paul, we have two little boys and two (rather piggy) black lab mixes. I see our future at every mealtime in your photos.
She is such a cutie pie - does she like younger men?
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, May 14, 2005 10:27 AM
Subject: [ujeni] Sharing...or what is family for???
Here is a beautiful (if I do say so myself) series of photos for your
enjoyment. Never have I seen a brother and sister get along so well...
It seems that one of them got ahold of a jar of peanuts...a mediocre midday
snack, but since it was shared, there are mitigating circumstances.....
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