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  • Christine Chumbler
    Jun 24, 2002
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      Africans still ignorant
      about Aids

      High numbers of people in Africa and other
      developing countries do not realise that
      HIV/Aids can kill.

      Even in countries with high infection rates a
      large majority of men and women believe they
      are not at risk of contracting Aids, the UN
      Population Division says in a report released on
      Sunday night.

      "Dramatic changes in
      sexual and reproductive
      awareness" are needed,
      the UN body states, to
      defeat the Aids
      epidemic. International
      campaigns have raised
      awareness of the
      disease but have not
      changed behaviour.

      The report is based on
      surveys in 39 African, Asian and Latin American
      countries. Men and women were questioned
      about Aids and a high level of ignorance was
      revealed.

      Women, Aids and sex

      Half the women surveyed in Benin, Burkina
      Faso, Chad, Mali, Madagascar and Niger did
      not know that they could become HIV positive
      and develop Aids through sex.

      In half the countries
      surveyed between
      25% and 33% of
      women were unaware
      how they could
      protect themselves
      against Aids.

      Awareness of Aids and
      its prevention differed
      greatly in rural and
      urban areas.

      The study found that
      less than a third of
      married women in villages knew about Aids. In
      most countries, men knew more than women
      about Aids and its transmission through sex.

      Condoms not popular

      The efforts to prevent HIV transmission
      through the use of condoms appear to have
      been a failure.

      In western and central Africa, the report says,
      a serious difficulty in promoting the use of
      condoms has been the desire of women to
      become pregnant.

      Overall "the condom has not become more
      popular" and greater education is need on risk
      prevention, according to the UN.

      Some 28 million Africans live with HIV/Aids, and
      an estimated 2.3 million Africans died from Aids
      in 2001.

      *****

      We will stand our ground, say Zim farmers
      Harare
      24 June 2002 11:53

      About 2 900 Zimbabwean farmers, ordered to cease farming under the
      government's controversial land reform law giving it sweeping powers to
      seize farmland, have largely ignored the deadline and continued their
      business, says Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) representative Jenni
      Williams.

      On May 10 the government amended the Land Acquisition Act to order
      farmers whose property has been earmarked for acquisition to stop farming
      45 days after a notice of acquisition has been issued
      and vacate their property within 90 days.

      For farmers who had been issued with government notices to take over their
      property before the law was changed, the 45-day notice period to stop
      farming came into effect from the day the law was passed.

      "A lot ... are just going to stay as they cannot stop farming in 45 days. We
      will have to stand our ground and see what happens," Williams said.

      The affected farmers, according to the CFU, represent about 60% of the
      white farmers who held about 4 800 title deeds before the controversial land
      reforms turned violent two years ago.

      During this period government supporters, calling themselves war veterans,
      began occupying white farms and demanded that they be redistributed to
      landless black Zimbabweans.

      Meanwhile, in South Africa, the New National Party (NNP) said the
      announcement that the white-owned farms should cease operating was the
      last nail in the coffin of Zimbabwe's economy and could have fatal
      consequences for the New Economic Partnership for Africa's Development
      (Nepad).

      NNP representative for Land Affairs issues Willem Odendaal said: "If the
      African Union, that will be formed next month, does not put an end to the
      tyrannical transgressions of the president of Zimbabwe, then Nepad will be
      doomed and lack credibility.

      "This will result in the failure of this socio-economic plan making it just
      another landmark on Africa's road of deterioration."

      Odendaal said president Robert Mugabe's continued draconic land reform
      plans would lead to the demolishment of property rights in Zimbabwe.

      "It will not only cause famine and poverty, but will also impact negatively on
      South Africa and other neighbouring countries."

      He said South Africans should expect new pressure on the country's
      currency.

      "Zimbabwe's current misery will increase and lead to more unwelcome
      refugees entering South Africa... This will place more pressure on the
      availability of scarce infrastructures like housing and jobs. The burden on
      South African taxpayers will also increase, as the government's
      responsibility to provide aid to Zimbabwe increases," he said.

      Zimbabwe's Land Minister, Joseph Made, was quoted on state radio at the
      weekend saying the number of farmers affected was much less than the
      CFU claimed, but would not specify the numbers.

      Farmers who ignore the deadline will be liable to two years in jail or a 20 000
      Zimbabwe dollars fine or both.

      A CFU representative expressed fears of violence on the farms as the
      deadline passed and farmers vowed to continue working.

      "There are fears of violence. We do anticipate there will be violence and we
      hope it will be curtailed," said Williams.

      Some tobacco farmers who had made a special application to the
      government to continue farming until the end of next season, early next
      year, had their request turned down, according to the state-run Herald
      newspaper.

      The CFU representative said on Friday that, in addition to farmers who have
      to stop operations, an estimated 232 000 farm workers would also have to
      stop working on Monday in line with the amended law.

      *****

      Zim farmers broaden their horizons
      Maputo
      21 June 2002 12:27

      Authorities in Mozambique and Zimbabwe have launched a probe into
      claims by provincial authorities that Zimbabwean commercial and peasant
      farmers were seizing arable land along the border with Mozambique.

      "We have had reports of illegal land occupations from the Manica provincial
      authorities, the most serious case of which involves a major Zimbabwean
      tobacco grower," national director of land mapping and planning Jose
      Mucombo said on Friday.

      Mucombo said authorities in one district of Mussorize reported that
      Zimbabweans have been extending their farms across the border into the
      fertile lands of the central Manica province.

      "There have also been persistent reports of Zimbabwean peasants violating
      the border in different locations," he said.

      Mucombo said governments of the two countries have agreed to form a
      technical commission to probe the issue.

      The commission is expected to examine whether the border demarcations
      of the 1930s still stand or have suffered illegal alterations.

      Mucombo said it was not clear that the alleged Zimbabwean invasions are
      linked to the controversial land reforms in Zimbabwe, which have seen many
      white commercial farmers losing land to the government for redistribution
      amongst landless blacks.

      Meanwhile, a Mozambican government plan to resettle some Zimbabwean
      farmers who legally requested land for lease is still under consideration.

      However, farmers who have asked for very large land holdings have had their
      requests turned down by Maputo, for fear of importing the Zimbabwean
      problem.

      In Mozambique, all land belongs to the state and can only be leased for a
      period of up to 50 years.

      *****

      Tanzania suspends gem
      mining

      The Tanzanian Government has suspended all
      mining in the north of the country after up to
      42 miners died following the failure of a fresh
      air pump.

      The disaster happened on Thursday at
      Mererani, near Mount Kilimanjaro - the only
      place in the world where the gemstone
      tanzanite is found.

      Daniel ole Njoolay, the
      regional commissioner
      for Arusha, said there
      would be no more
      mining in the area until
      all the bodies had
      been recovered.
      Fourteen have been
      retrieved so far.

      The victims are about
      125 metres (410 feet)
      underground and
      about 300 metres (985
      feet) along a
      horizontal tunnel.

      Mining officials said 32 miners were registered
      to work in the mine when the pump failed, but
      another 10 miners were believed to have died
      in an initial rescue attempt.

      Hazardous mines

      Correspondents say tanzanite mines are
      relatively primitive and lack proper safety
      equipment.

      They say miners are usually young men who
      often remain underground while carrying out
      blasting.

      They use oxygen pumps fitted with long hoses
      to pump air down into the mines.

      The mines amount to little more than holes
      hundreds of metres deep and are notoriously
      dangerous.

      In 1998 more than 50 people died after heavy
      rain flooded the mines.

      The Mererani district is rich in deposits of
      tanzanite - a gemstone with a generally
      violet-blue hue which earns Tanzania about
      $8m annually on the world market.

      ****

      Swazi women fear losing
      their trousers

      Women in Swaziland are expressing concern
      after being warned by a senior official that if
      they wear trousers on the streets they may be
      torn off by soldiers.

      The senior official in the royal household said
      trousers were disrespectful to Swaziland's
      traditions, Reuters news agency reported,
      though he acknowledged that younger
      princesses in the extensive royal family were
      among the worst culprits.

      "Soldiers from the army
      will patrol for
      offenders... They have
      been instructed to strip
      the trousers from
      women in pants, and
      tear them to pieces," a
      resident of the capital,
      Mbabane, quoted the offical as saying.

      "If any of use dare wear pants, the soldiers will
      strip us naked," Mary Dlaminini, 22, said after
      listening to Jim Gama, the senior official in the
      royal household, who addressed local people at
      a special meeting.

      Human rights activists have accused the Swazi
      authorities of oppressing women. Swaziland is
      one of the world's last remaining absolute
      monarchies and has a reputation for being
      extremely conservative.

      However, many young women in Swaziland
      now wear trousers and there is likely to be
      deep resistance to any attempts to further
      restrict their freedoms.

      Women are already not allowed to wear
      trousers in government offices and at the
      palace.

      'Medieval'

      "The dictates about what women can and
      cannot wear is medieval but unfortunately
      reflects the fact that women are legal minors
      in Swaziland," Doo Apane, an attorney with the
      Swaziland branch of Women in Law in Southern
      Africa said.

      Last September, King Mswati III tried to revive
      a traditional law on chastity, and banned sex
      for young girls in order, he said, to preserve
      virginity and halt the spread of HIV/Aids.

      But the royal edict has
      faced growing
      opposition from
      parents who have
      refused to get their
      children to wear
      tassels, designed as
      chastity belts, until
      the king's own
      daughters comply with
      the traditional custom.

      The king had also said
      maidens should not
      shake hands with men
      or wear trousers for five years.

      Last November, the king bowed to pressure
      from angry young women and fined himself a
      cow for violating the chastity vow he had
      imposed on the rest of the country.

      In a very unusual demonstration, 300 young
      Swazi women had gathered outside the royal
      palace and symbolically laid down their
      ceremonial tassels.

      They were showing how angry they were that
      King Mswati III had broken his own rules.

      Double standards

      The king, soon after he decreed the ban, had
      announced he was to marry a 17-year-old girl.

      Resentment among Swazi women grew when
      they learned that his fiancée was living at the
      royal palace.

      Any man who breaks the cultural ban is fined
      an animal, such as a cow, or is liable to pay a
      fine.

      Earlier this month, King Mswati married once
      again, bringing the total number of his official
      wives to nine.

      He wedded Nontsetselelo Magongo, an
      18-year-old girl forced to leave school last
      year amid protests from human rights and
      anti-child abuse institutions in Swaziland and
      abroad.
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