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2873news catch-up pt 2

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  • Christine Chumbler
    Jan 3, 2002
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      Zambian leader's
      poisoned chalice

      Mr Mwanawasa says he is the legitimate leader
      By the BBC's Richard Lee in Lusaka

      Most leaders enjoy at least a brief honeymoon
      period following their election.

      But Zambia's new president, Levy Mwanawasa,
      will have a battle on his hands from the start.

      Opposition parties have
      cried foul, alleging
      widespread electoral
      irregularities and fraud.
      They have already
      taken their complaints
      to court in an attempt
      to have Mr
      Mwanawasa's
      inauguration delayed.

      Their case was
      dismissed but they
      have vowed to fight on
      with all means at their disposal.

      "We will never recognise Mwanawasa's
      illegitimate election and will pursue a
      multi-pronged legal campaign to have his
      victory nullified," said Anderson Mazoka, the
      presidential runner-up. "It will be a collective
      action by the opposition, although some cases
      will be fought on an individual basis."

      Divided they fall

      The opposition has not yet released much hard
      evidence to back up their claims. They stress
      that they will produce it later when they return
      to the Supreme Court to challenge the results.

      According to the constitution, they must file
      their petitions within two weeks of the
      inauguration making it a difficult first fortnight
      in office for President Mwanawasa.

      The ruling Movement
      for Multiparty
      Democracy is adamant
      that no rigging took
      place.

      It is true that the
      opposition shot itself in
      the foot by splitting
      the vote between 10
      candidates.

      But despite this,
      serious questions have
      been raised about the credibility of the
      election results. Even if the opposition's legal
      efforts fail, many people will never view Mr
      Mwanawasa as the legitimate president.

      Unfounded fears

      Meanwhile, opposition supporters have added
      their voices to the campaign and vowed to
      take their protests onto the streets.

      "We have nothing to eat and no jobs to do,"
      said unemployed Lusaka-resident, Patrick
      Chisenga. "We all voted for change but they
      cheated us and now we have the same people
      in charge. We will not allow this rigging to
      succeed. We will fight until Mwanawasa and
      the MMD go."

      Already the police have
      clashed with
      demonstrators in Lusaka
      and in towns on the
      Copperbelt.

      And it is likely that more
      demonstrations will be
      mounted. The
      opposition has called for
      peaceful protests but
      anger and frustration
      could see the situation boil over.

      University closed

      The police have already shown that they are
      willing to resort to tear-gas when confronted
      by stone-throwing crowds. And Mr
      Mwanawasa, himself, has made it perfectly
      clear that the full force of the law will be used
      against anyone who indulges in violence.

      In an attempt to forestall trouble, the
      authorities have extended the Christmas
      recess at the University of Lusaka indefinitely.

      A circular was issued
      while Mr Mwanawasa
      was being sworn in,
      stating that the
      university would remain
      closed until further
      notice because 'the
      environment as of now
      at the campus is not conducive to academic
      learning'.

      Puppet master

      Meanwhile, Mr Mwanawasa faces the tricky
      task of governing not only with opposition
      protests ringing in his ears but also with a far
      from convincing mandate.

      He was elected on under 29% of the vote and
      will, if anything, have only a slim majority in
      parliament.

      "We strongly recommend that a presidential
      candidate should have to secure at least 51%
      of the vote as happened here from 1964 until
      1996," said Dr Alfred Chanda, president of the
      Foundation for Democratic Process.

      "A situation where a
      president is elected by
      around 30% does not
      give credibility to the
      office of the republican
      presidency."

      Mr Mwanawasa also
      has to counter
      allegations that he is
      merely the puppet of
      his predecessor,
      Frederick Chiluba.

      During his final speech at the inauguration
      ceremony, Mr Chiluba stressed that he would
      not be pulling any strings behind the scenes
      and that Mr Mwanawasa would be very much
      "his own man".

      Mr Chiluba even announced that he was
      considering stepping down from his post as
      president of the ruling MMD.

      However, many people believe that he will be
      the power behind the throne and that Mr
      Mwanawasa's victory represents a de facto
      third term for Mr Chiluba.

      "Levy Mwanawasa is a president of Frederick
      Chiluba, by Chiluba, for Chiluba," claimed an
      editorial in the private and fiercely
      anti-government newspaper, The Post.

      Weak mandate

      All of this will make it more difficult for Mr
      Mwanawasa to govern.

      So will the fact that many of the ruling party's
      most able and experienced politicians have
      joined the opposition over the past year.

      With his legitimacy questioned and an
      inexperienced cabinet, Mr Mwanawasa will
      have to try and carry out his campaign
      promises to revamp agriculture, boost
      employment and reduce poverty.

      Zambia's economic and social problems are
      enormous.

      Some statistics say that around 80% of the
      population now live below the poverty line.

      To combat this, Zambia needs a president with
      a powerful popular mandate, which is exactly
      what Levy Mwanawasa does not have.

      If you're interested, BBC has the text of Mwanawasa's inaugural address.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/monitoring/media_reports/newsid_1739000/1739616.stm

      *****

      Mugabe supporters on
      rampage

      Supporters of President Robert Mugabe of
      Zimbabwe have rampaged through the capital
      Harare beating local residents and looting
      shops.

      The violence began on Monday when an
      estimated 100 youths descended upon the
      townships of Kuwadzana and Mabvuku.

      The main opposition
      party said the young
      militants attacked
      people as part of Mr
      Mugabe's re-election
      campaign.

      Police have not
      commented on the
      incidents.

      The violence came
      after the publication on
      Monday of the names
      of 1,000 people who had been allocated land
      to be seized from white farmers.

      Looting

      A local resident in Kuwadzana said the
      attackers were supporters of the governing
      Zanu-PF party.

      "I was coming home from town, when I saw
      people running, running," the witness told AFP
      news agency, fearing to give his name.

      "These Zanu-PF people were stealing from the
      shops, beating people - even in their houses,"
      he said.

      In a statement, the opposition Movement for
      Democratic Change (MDC) said: "This group of
      about 100 youths was beating up people,
      accusing them of being MDC supporters."

      "[They were] graduates from the Border Gezi
      Training Camp who, being trained ostensibly
      under a national youth service training program
      ... randomly beat up and harassed the
      residents of Kuwadzana," before moving on to
      the Mabvuku township, said the MDC's national
      youth chairman, Nelson Chamisa.

      Mr Chamisa said it had
      become apparent that
      "this so-called national
      youth training service
      is in fact a Zanu-PF
      party service where
      the murderous Zanu-PF
      is recruiting children to
      terrorise their parents".

      Land redistribution

      On Monday,
      Zimbabwe's main
      state-owned
      newspaper, The Herald, said the first 1,000
      names were part of a list to be published in full
      over the next few days of 100,000 black
      Zimbabweans who will benefit from the land
      redistribution.

      About 1,700
      white-owned farms
      have already been
      occupied - some
      violently - by
      supporters of President
      Robert Mugabe in the
      controversial land
      reform programme that
      is at the heart of the
      country's political
      crisis.

      The 8.5 million
      hectares earmarked for
      seizure in the run-up to presidential elections
      next March make up 95% of the land currently
      owned by white Zimbabweans.

      Correspondents say Mr Mugabe believes that
      seizing land from white farmers is a
      vote-winner and he has made the policy a key
      part of his campaign for re-election.

      *****

      SA family mourns truck
      crash victims

      By Alastair Leithead in Johannesburg

      A memorial service is being held in South Africa
      for the 48 people from the same family killed in
      a road accident on Sunday.

      One hundred and twenty members of the
      Chego family were on their way to visit the
      graves of their ancestors for an annual new
      year reunion, when the truck they were in
      overturned.

      Sixty others were injured in the crash. Most
      are recovering but two are still in hospital in a
      critical condition.

      The accident is the worst of many across
      South Africa during the festive period.

      Burial

      The extended family members were on their
      way to their ancestral burial ground for a
      traditional ritual.

      They hope to bury those killed on the same
      land, but the owner of the farm has so far
      refused to give permission.

      The driver of the truck, which careered off a
      steep gravel track and overturned twice, has
      appeared in court charged with culpable
      homicide.

      The investigation into exactly what caused the
      crash is continuing.

      In the last month more than 750 people were
      killed on the country's roads, and with many
      holiday makers returning home this weekend,
      that figure is expected to increase further.