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  • Christine Chumbler
    Sep 1, 2000
      Slow news day...

      Zimbabwe fuel prices up
      again

      Repeated price increases follow months of shortages
      The Zimbabwean authorities have announced
      massive increases in the price of fuel - just
      over a month after the last price rise.

      Paraffin - used by most homes for cooking and
      heating - has doubled in price for the second
      time.

      Diesel fuel is up by 54%, and unleaded petrol
      by 40%.

      The state-run national
      oil company, Noczim,
      said the price rises
      were needed because
      of the recent
      devaluation of the
      Zimbabwe dollar and
      escalating prices on
      the world oil market.

      Our correspondent in
      Harare says Zimbabwe
      has the air of a
      country spiralling out of
      control, with new price rises announced almost
      daily.

      This comes despite promises by President
      Robert Mugabe during June's parliamentary
      election campaign to introduce sweeping price
      controls.

      The increase in the cost of fuel has been by
      far the most dramatic.

      Noczim has for years been selling petrol at
      below-cost price, partly in an effort to hold
      down inflation and to reduce the potential for
      social unrest.

      Market prices

      That policy has become unsustainable and
      Zimbabweans are feeling the effects of a
      sudden readjustment towards world oil market
      prices.

      The doubling of the
      paraffin price comes
      after a 130% increase
      in July.

      The petrol price went
      up by 20% at the same
      time.

      Serious foreign
      currency shortages
      mean that in any event
      all fuel is extremely
      scarce.

      The government has yet to make an official
      comment on the price rises.

      *****

      Report Says Malawi Has Highest Road
      Accidents in SADC

      Panafrican News Agency
      August 31, 2000

      BLANTYRE, Malawi

      A report commissioned by the
      Malawi's National Road Safety Council says the country has the
      highest number of road accidents per year in the 14-member
      Southern Africa Development Community.

      The report says that of the 180,000 registered vehicles in Malawi,
      at least 1,200 of them get involved in some form of an accident
      or another, a percentage figure comparatively higher than that of
      South Africa.

      South Africa has at least seven million registered vehicles of
      which a million are involved in accidents per year, according to
      the survey carried out by a Nordic Consultancy firm, Iberinsa.

      Harvey Mjojo, the council's training officer, told PANA that
      between January and June Malawi has already recorded over
      160 road accidents in which 200 people have died.

      He noted that with these alarming statistics, an estimated 80
      million US dollars is spent every year on accident-related costs.

      Comparatively, the amount is higher than any money spent on
      essential services like security, agriculture, justice, and water.
      The costs after an accident accumulate in the form of insurance,
      maintenance, funerals, and police work.

      Mjojo blamed driving while drunk, over-speeding and unlicensed
      drivers as major causes of accidents although he admitted the
      despicable state of the country's neglected roads might be an
      added reason.

      In a bid to slowdown these statistics, government has put in
      place several measures. These include an on- the-spot 10,000
      kwacha (173 US dollars) fine on all those found guilty of causing
      an accident and an additional 173 dollars for anyone causing an
      accident while drunk.

      Transport Minister Brown Mpinganjira also said anybody found
      using a mobile phone while driving will be fined 2,000 kwacha (35
      dollars) on the spot.

      Those fined will have their names stored in a computerised
      database so that if they are fined more than twice, they risk
      having their driving licences withdrawn, he said.

      "We know that some of these accidents could be avoided if
      drivers had both hands on the steering wheel," he added.

      Meanwhile, the director of Public Prosecution, Farhad Assan,
      has announced that any motorist found to have caused deaths
      on the road due to carelessness, will be charged with first
      degree murder, a crime that carries a death sentence.

      The move comes in the wake of the death of 11 people, including
      a South African tourist, when a truck full of mourners collided
      with a tourist Land Rover on the outskirts of Lilongwe two weeks
      ago.

      The truck driver was drunk and had no driving licence.
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