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  • Christine Chumbler
    Dec 7, 2000
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      Britain Gives Malawi 41 Million Dollars Under
      HIPC

      Panafrican News Agency
      December 6, 2000

      Blantyre

      Britain is to release at least 41 million US dollars to Malawi
      following London's decision to forgive debt for 41 heavily indebted
      countries in the world.

      The Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown made the
      announcement in London, ahead of a similar announcement to
      relieve poor countries of their indebtedness under the Heavily
      Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC) by the World Bank and
      the IMF.

      Malawi finance minister Mathews Chikaonda told journalists
      Wednesday the news of the debt relief was delivered by visiting
      British Financial Secretary of the Treasury, Stephen Timms.

      "This shows a measure of trust in the expenditure control
      measures which the Malawi government has put in place," he
      said.

      Chikaonda also said the Malawi government has submitted an
      Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper to the board of the
      World Bank and the IMF, a pre-condition for the Bretton Wood
      institutions will use to certify the eligibility of heavily indebted
      countries for debt relief.

      He said the board would meet later in December to consider
      Malawi's position.

      The Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper contains an outline on how
      the government intends to utilise the money saved from servicing
      the debt.

      Chikaonda said if approved, up to 56 percent of Malawi's debt will
      be forgiven.

      The finance minister said Malawi would have been spending
      between 100 and 130 million dollars annually to service its debt.

      Timms said in a statement in Lilongwe at the end of his visit that
      he had discussed the need for expenditure control in government
      with Malawi officials, including President Bakili Muluzi, finance
      minister Chikaonda and the director of the Anti-corruption Bureau
      Gilton Chiwaula.

      *****

      8 Million Live in Sub-standard Housing

      Panafrican News Agency
      December 7, 2000

      Blantyre, Malawi

      Four out of every five Malawians currently live in very
      substandard housing with little hope of ever being able to afford a
      decent home, a recent report has revealed.

      This translates that eight million of Malawi's 10-million population
      live in poor housing with little or no sanitation facilities.

      According to the Christian-based NGO - Habitat for Humanity
      Malawi - decent housing in Malawi is a serious problem because
      most Malawian families, living on a monthly income of less than 20
      US dollars, have no hope of accumulating capital to rent a decent
      house, let alone build one.

      The NGO says that since it started operation in Malawi in 1986, it
      has built 4,400 low-cost houses, housing more than 26,000
      people in 11 of the country's 27 districts.

      "Habitat for Humanity Malawi is the largest (housing) programme
      in Africa, and with our new project we intend to double the 4,400
      more houses in the next 10 years," the report says.

      Under the new project, called 'Blitz Build', a single house or an
      apartment costing 428 dollar is built within five days.

      Previously, it took three to four weeks to build Habitat for
      Humanity houses.

      "Habitat for Humanity seeks to eliminate housing problems from
      the face of the earth and to make decent shelter a matter of
      conscious and action," the founder of Habitat, Milland Fuller, said.

      Fuller said the NGO regarded the housing problem in Malawi as
      unacceptable, adding "that's why we are providing simple, decent
      and affordable houses all over Malawi so as to abate the
      situation."

      However, the 428-dollar Habitat for Humanity-sponsored houses
      are not for free as beneficiary families must repay the amount in
      bags of cement over a period of ten years.

      "Habitat for Humanity is not a handout programme; it is a hand up
      programme; that's why a family that has benefited from the
      organisation repays the house over a period of ten years," Muller
      pointed out.

      In Africa, Habitat for Humanity, which operates in 70 countries in
      the world, was founded 25 years ago in the Democratic Republic
      of Congo.

      The organisation executes its programmes through volunteers
      from schools and colleges, churches as well as habitat
      homeowners.

      *****

      Zimbabwe Militants Abduct Farmer

      By Angus Shaw
      Associated Press Writer
      Thursday, Dec. 7, 2000; 6:20 a.m. EST

      HARARE, Zimbabwe ** Militants from Zimbabwe's ruling party abducted
      a white farmer and forced him to drive them to President Robert Mugabe's
      office during a dispute about land they seized, the union that represents the
      country's white farmers said Thursday.

      The militants said they wanted Mugabe to intervene to stop farmer Lance
      Kennedy from planting crops on land they claimed for themselves, said
      Malcolm Vowles, a spokesman for the Commercial Farmers Union.

      Armed troops and police guarding Mugabe's complex of offices and
      meeting rooms refused to let the group of 20 militants in Wednesday. The
      militants forced Kennedy to sit in his truck outside the gate for two hours.

      The abduction on Mugabe's doorstep and in front of police was another sign
      of increasing lawlessness in the southern African nation, where order
      started breaking down in February in a racially tinged land dispute.

      Several thousand whites own about one-third of the productive land in
      Zimbabwe, which also supports 2 million farm workers and their families.
      About 7.5 million blacks live on the remaining two-thirds. Since February,
      though, ruling party militants have illegally and violently occupied about
      1,700 white-owned farms, squatting on the land and disrupting farm
      production.

      In Wednesday's incident, police persuaded the militants to return to
      Kennedy's farm about 20 miles northwest of Harare and escorted them
      there, freeing the farmer to enter his homestead.

      Kennedy was shaken by the incident. He reported it to the union, but
      refused to discuss it with reporters out of fear of reprisals.

      "It's dangerous," he told The Associated Press.

      Six white farmers have been murdered since the occupations began.

      It was not clear whether the militant group that abducted Kennedy was
      armed. But the ruling party militants and farm squatters * many veterans of
      the bush war that ended white rule here in 1980 * are usually armed with
      knives, clubs and sometimes guns.

      Wednesday's incident heightened tension in the Nyabira wheat, corn and
      tobacco district where militants led by Mugabe's sister, Sabina, have been
      active, Vowles said.

      Mugabe's sister, a ruling party lawmaker for the neighboring Zvimba district,
      has been exhorting followers to seize private land she has toured in her
      luxury Mercedes. Last month, she led a group of 30 militants who disrupted
      work and seized 900 acres on a nearby farm partly owned by Kennedy's
      father.

      Mugabe has described the illegal occupation of white-owned land as a
      justified protest against disparities in land ownership in the former British
      colony of Rhodesia, as Zimbabwe was known before independence.

      The government has also begun confiscating some of the 3,000
      white-owned farms, which it says it will carve up and hand over to landless
      blacks. It has ignored two court orders to clear militants and squatters from
      private land and end the violent disruptions of farm production.

      The nation's Supreme Court has declared the government land resettlement
      program illegal because its "fast track" seizures do not follow legal
      procedures on land reform passed by Mugabe's ruling party in April.
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