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  • Christine Chumbler
    Dec 3 6:58 AM
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      Malawian farewell to
      'the prophet'

      By Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre

      Thousands of Malawians have attended the
      funeral of the country's most popular reggae
      musician, who died suddenly in police custody
      early this week.

      In a rousing send off, close to 10,000 people
      from all walks of life thronged Chileka town,
      just outside the capital, Blantyre, to say
      goodbye to Evison Matafale popularly known as
      "the prophet".

      Police have denied foul

      A few days before his
      death, the controversial
      Matafale, who was 32
      years old, uttered some
      prophetic words.

      "I don't fear death because my Bible tells me
      that I should fear the one that kills both body
      and spirit, not the body alone."

      Tense atmosphere

      Though Malawi's music industry attended the
      ceremony en masse, it was dreadlocked
      members of the Rastafarian community who
      dominated the ceremony, turning it into more
      of a fiesta than a sombre gathering.

      But tension filled the
      air as some thirsted for
      revenge for the death
      of their prophet.

      Police, whom many
      people accuse of killing
      the musician, were
      warned not to come
      anywhere near the
      ceremony as were
      ruling party officials.

      Police officers at a
      nearby police post
      barricaded themselves inside as the funeral
      cortege passed by singing songs of revenge.

      Seditious mail

      Elton, Matafale's brother, told journalists the
      singer was arrested and tortured by police last
      Saturday because of letters he had written to
      President Bakilu Muluzi denouncing his
      government's policies.

      "When I saw him at Maula Prison he was in a
      bad shape," he added.

      According to police, the reggae star was
      arrested at his house in Blantyre to be
      interrogated about those letters.

      In them he had accused the president of
      backing Muslims and Asian traders and
      exploiting ordinary Malawians.

      The singer, a
      temperamental man,
      had early this month
      lost his cool with an
      Asian merchant over
      payments. He had also
      been suffering from

      His mother had pleaded
      with the police not to
      take her son away but
      officers had assured
      her he would be released the same day.

      However, police sources said Matafale was
      transferred to the capital, Lilongwe, in the
      night where he was remanded in custody.

      Lilongwe Central Hospital administrator Charles
      Mwasambo said that Matafale died of severe

      He said there was no evidence of torture when
      police officers brought the reggae star into

      "His condition deteriorated around midnight and
      he died at 0320 in the morning (Tuesday)," he

      Debut album

      Matafale rose from almost nowhere to become
      Malawi's favourite musician last year with the
      release of his debut album, Kuyimba 1.

      Soon after Kuyimba 1
      he disappeared from
      the public view for
      almost a year battling
      with tuberculosis.

      But after coming out of
      hospital he released his
      second album, Kuyimba
      2, which catapulted
      him back into the

      His music, laced with
      frank social commentary done in a Jamaican
      reggae style, made him popular both in pubs
      and homes.

      Meanwhile, the dread-locked Rasta community
      - of which Matafale was an elder - are
      planning a series of demonstrations as part of
      the mourning process.

      Matafale leaves behind a five-year old
      daughter and an album of uncut songs.

      The only single on the album that has been
      released was 'Time Mark', a tribute to victims
      of the terrorist attacks on the United States of
      America on 11 September.


      World Jurists Protest Removal of Judges

      African Church Information Service
      December 3, 2001
      Posted to the web November 30, 2001
      Brian Ligomeka
      The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has protested in a letter to Malawian leader Bakili Muluzi and his attorney-general Peter Fachi against the removal of judges, saying the act is contrary to the basic principles of the role of the judiciary adopted by the African Charter General Assembly.
      The Geneva-based ICJ, a worldwide organisation devoted to protecting human rights and the rule of law, described the dismissal of judges as against the African Charter on People's and Human Rights, which Malawi ratified in 1989.
      The world body of judges also asked the government to suspend parliamentary proceedings against them and that any disciplinary matters against the judges be brought before the Judicial Service Commission so that the judges can be afforded a fair hearing.
      "We express our deep dismay that Parliament had made a recommendation for the removal of three High Court judges, George Chimasula Phiri, Dunstain Mwaungulu and Ancaclet Chipeta, for alleged misconduct," said the letter.
      The letter indicated that the removal recommendation was not pursuant to the 1994 Constitution of Malawi, which calls for the establishment of the Judicial Service Commission, the body responsible for disciplinary matters relating to judicial officers.
      The Charter, adopted by the General Assembly in 1985, among other things provides that governments must protect the independence of the judiciary, whose functioning must be free from threats or interference.
      Any charge against a judge in his/her professional capacity shall be processed under an appropriate procedure. The judge shall have the right to a fair hearing, it says.
      The three judges await their fate from President Muluzi, who the National Assembly petitioned last week to have them dismissed.
      Last week, Leader of the House Harry Thomsom and some opposition MPs argued that the judges be given a chance to be heard before they are removed, but most MPs voted otherwise.
      Meanwhile, a special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers of the UN Commission on Human Rights, Dato Param Cumaraswamy, has sent an urgent appeal to President Muluzi and his government to desist from interfering with the independence of the country's judiciary.
      In his appeal, the UN official said he was especially worried that Parliament went ahead to impeach the judges despite their obtaining an injunction from the High Court restraining the proceedings.
      He said he was also disturbed that even the judge who granted the injunction, Justice Bathiel Chiudza-Banda, was also threatened to appear before Parliament to be impeached.
      He reminded Muluzi that Malawi's own Constitution said that only the Judicial Service Commission, and not Parliament, is responsible for disciplining judicial officers.
      More worrying were allegations that the charges against the judges were politically motivated after they made a string of rulings against the ruling UDF party, he said.
      Cumaraswamy reminded the government that as a signatory to the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of the Judiciary, Malawi should make sure that the independence of the judiciary was guaranteed by the State.
      "Judges are not subject to the direction or control of any person or authority except the law and the Constitution," he said, adding that "decisions in disciplinary, suspension or removal proceedings should be subject to an independent review."


      Mbeki's patience with Mugabe
      wears thin

      Johannesburg | Monday

      SOUTH African President Thabo Mbeki has stepped up criticism
      of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, saying his counterpart
      could no longer expect protection while the political crisis there
      deepens, a newspaper reported Sunday.
      "He wants Mugabe to know that he should not expect protection
      any more. Up to now we have rallied behind him," a senior South
      African official told The Sunday Times, requesting anonymity.
      Mbeki also urged Malawi's President Bakili Muluzi, the chairman
      of the Southern African Development Community, to convene a
      special task team on Zimbabwe, the paper said.
      Another unnamed official said Mbeki's patience was "wearing
      thin" because Zimbabwe's crisis was hampering efforts to
      launching an economic revival plan for Africa.
      The paper said Mbeki was receiving reports that hundreds of
      refugees were streaming across the border every day.
      Mbeki publicly slammed Mugabe twice this week, accusing his
      government of pursuing wrong economic policies that had
      aggravated the country's political crisis and had ripple effects
      throughout the entire region.
      The South African head of state also voiced concerns for
      journalists in Zimbabwe -- who are increasingly targeted in a
      government clampdown -- and for the prospect of fair elections
      next year.
      Mbeki has in the past come under fire for his reluctance to
      criticize his neighbour, in particular regarding Harare's
      controversial land reforms which aim to redress colonial-era land
      imbalances. The reforms have been accompanied by violence and
      lawlessness on white-owned farms by government-sponsored
      But regional concern has heightened recently over Zimbabwe's
      critical food shortages, skyrocketing inflation and unemployment,
      and its unabashed campaign against the independent press and
      Mbeki also raised concerns over Harare's refusal to allow the
      European Union to deploy observers during next year's
      presidential elections, and raised the spectre of civil conflict if the
      poll was not seen to be legitimate.
      "If the outcome is not accepted by the people of Zimbabwe, the
      situation will be even worse and you have the danger of civil
      conflict," Mbeki said.
      Presidential representative Bheki Khumalo reiterated the stance
      in The Sunday Times.
      "If the elections are not legitimate, the situation will be far worse
      than it is now. The president therefore wants to double the efforts
      to seek a resolution to the crisis," Khumalo said.
      Meanwhile, the main Zimbabwean opposition party, the Movement
      for Democratic Change (MDC), has called on all Zimbabwean
      citizens living in South Africa to register for the forthcoming
      presidential election, SABC television reported on Sunday.
      Hundreds of Zimbabwean nationals turned out to welcome Gibson
      Sibanda, deputy president of the MDC in Johannesburg on
      In his main address, Sibanda accused Mugabe and the ruling
      Zanu (PF) of unleashing violence, and of waging a propaganda
      war, against opposition members.
      He said the MDC is ready to remove President Robert Mugabe
      from office and to start re-building the economy. - AFP


      Zimbabwe Unionists Urge Defiance

      By Michael Hartnack
      Associated Press Writer
      Sunday, December 2, 2001; 4:06 PM

      HARARE, Zimbabwe ** Unionists, priests, and thousands of representatives from civic groups on Sunday
      announced a civil disobedience campaign to force Zimbabwe's government to implement political reforms and
      stage free presidential elections early next year.

      Zimbabwe has been gripped by economic and political turmoil for nearly two years since government-backed
      militants began invading white owned farms, and the appeal for mass action by the National Constitutional
      Assembly could further heighten tensions.

      Risking arrest, assembly leaders agreed to embark on a nationwide program of civil disobedience, strikes and tax
      boycotts beginning in January, unless the government gives in to their demands for reform.

      "We will proceed regardless of the consequences," said Douglas Mwonzora, the assembly's spokesman.

      The assembly last year successfully campaigned against a constitutional amendment proposed by President
      Robert Mugabe to enable him to redistribute thousands of white-owned farms to landless blacks.

      The proposal was defeated in a referendum, but Mugabe ignored it and condoned the subsequent seizure of
      1,700 white-owned farms by ruling party militants as a justified response to the legacy of inequitable land
      ownership left by colonial rule.

      With his popularity fast eroding, Mugabe has attempted to squash dissent via an often-violent campaign against
      the opposition and the independent media.

      "What we have seen so far is just the beginning," said Mwonzora.

      Assembly chairman, Lovemore Madhuku, said it was fruitless to hope that Mugabe would respond to diplomatic
      pressure for political reform.

      Delegates attending an assembly gathering Saturday adopted a new draft constitution, which proposes boosting
      Parliament's powers, entrenching human rights and limiting the power of the presidency.

      However they rejected Madhuku's proposals calling for the abolition of the death penalty, for abortion to be
      made available on demand and for homosexuality to be decriminalized

      "We are here producing a document for popular mobilization," said Madhuku. "These were areas of
      disappointment but the people have a right to (determine) their own constitution."

      But Mugabe, speaking in Masiiwa, 70 miles northeast of Harare Saturday, said he was not afraid of losing power
      in the upcoming poll.

      "The opposition will never win the elections under whatever circumstances," the government-controlled Sunday
      Mail newspaper reported him as saying.


      Mugabe's election

      By BBC News Online's Joseph Winter

      Robert Mugabe is pulling out all the stops to
      ensure that he wins the presidential elections
      due in Zimbabwe before next April.

      Electoral laws have been proposed which will
      effectively deny the vote to hundreds of
      thousands of young people without jobs, who
      are invariably opposition supporters.

      Foreigners have been told that they will not be
      allowed to send monitors to the elections and
      only civil servants - susceptible to government
      control - will be accredited.

      Several government
      sympathisers have been
      named as judges, so
      that legal challenges to
      such laws, and possibly
      the election results, by
      the opposition will be
      doomed to failure.

      And more new laws are
      in the pipeline to stop independent journalists
      from writing stories which do not meet with
      official approval.

      The opposition Movement for Democratic
      Change is being vilified as a "terrorist
      organisation" and officials warn of a US-style
      "war against terror".

      Losing hope

      The low-level campaign of intimidation against
      MDC activists, especially in the exposed rural
      areas, is continuing - as is the confiscation of
      land belonging to white farmers who are
      accused of supporting the opposition.

      Self-styled "war veterans" were recently
      allowed to rampage through the second city of
      Bulawayo attacking whites and other
      suspected opposition supporters unmolested
      by the watching police.

      The 77-year-old Mr
      Mugabe and his
      advisors are laying,
      one-by-one, the
      foundation stones of a
      very high wall around
      State House.

      Zimbabweans who
      want change, buoyed
      by the MDC's strong
      showing in the June
      2000 parliamentary
      elections, are losing

      "There's no way that Mugabe will lose the
      election," says one long-suffering Harare
      resident. "And even if he does lose the vote,
      he won't give up power."


      The Financial Gazette newspaper reports that
      Mr Mugabe is building underground bunkers at
      State House in case the elections descend into
      civil war.

      And the MDC has not yet come up with any

      Their 56 members of
      parliament are unable
      to block the
      legislation, however
      much they huff and

      Meanwhile, the
      economy continues to
      suffocate in the
      absence of foreign aid
      and investment.

      Workers are being laid off by the day and with
      inflation officially running at 98%, bread and
      even the staple food, maize-meal, are
      becoming luxuries.

      Gloomy future

      A multi-screen, state-of-the-art cinema
      complex on the outskirts of Harare has had to
      close down because it can no longer get the
      foreign currency to import films from

      Some lucky people, mainly with good
      connections, are benefiting from the
      distribution of farmland, so that even if they
      do not have a job, they can at least grow their
      own maize.

      MDC leader Morgan
      Tsvangirai was taken
      to court for warning
      that if Mr Mugabe does
      not step down, he
      would be removed from
      power by force. The
      charges were dropped
      but this could well be
      an accurate prediction
      for Zimbabwe's future.

      With Mr Mugabe at the
      helm, there is no
      prospect of a reversal
      of Zimbabwe's
      economic fortunes.

      The biggest challenge is to earn some foreign
      currency in order to pay for essentials such as
      oil and electricity, not to mention computers,
      vehicles and food imports.


      International investors and donors are the
      fastest way of getting hard currency into the
      country but both groups will continue to steer
      well clear of Harare if Mr Mugabe rigs his way
      to victory.

      "Frightening," is how one Zimbabwean
      describes the prospect of another six years of
      Mr Mugabe's rule.

      Earlier this month, a group of civic
      organisations attempted to stage a "mass
      protest" at the new electoral laws but it fizzled
      out when a meagre 50 protestors turned up.

      Riot police flooded
      Harare city centre and
      demonstrators knew
      that they were risking
      lungfuls of tear-gas,
      rubber truncheons and
      a night in the cells.

      But as Zimbabweans
      become more hungry,
      they will also become
      more angry.

      If they feel that they
      have no chance of changing the government
      through elections, there will come a point
      when they feel violence is the only answer.

      Just as black nationalists, led by Mr Mugabe,
      felt in the 1970s with regard to Ian Smith's
      white minority government.

      Even if he manages to hold onto power next
      year, ultimately, Mr Mugabe's carefully-laid
      brickwork will crumble to dust.

      But he seems determined to drag his country
      down with him.


      Eleven contest Zambian

      Eleven candidates have filed successful
      nominations to stand in the Zambian
      presidential election on 27 December.

      The successful applicants include three former
      Zambian vice presidents - Levy Patrick
      Mwanawasa of the ruling Movement for
      Multiparty Democracy, Christon Tembo of the
      opposition Forum for Democracy and
      Development, and the Heritage Party's Godfrey

      Five other nominations were rejected for not
      fulfilling requirements correctly.

      The presidential poll, which will be held on the
      same day as parliamentary elections, will mark
      the end of President Frederick Chiluba's 10
      years in office.

      In April, Mr Tembo led a cabinet revolt against
      attempts by President Chiluba to extend his
      presidency for an unconstitutional third term.

      Pictures from a Tembo rally

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