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  • Christine Chumbler
    Nov 27, 2002
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      EU 7m aid money still missing in Malawi
      Blantyre
      27 November
      2002 14:12

      The Malawi government has yet to repay seven-million
      dollars to the
      European Union after the funds, intended for the
      health budget, went
      missing last August, a news report said on
      Wednesday.

      The government failed to account for the money, part
      of a $52-million EU aid
      package under a three-year accord.

      The EU accuses Malawi of diverting the funds from
      their intended use in the
      health ministry budget. Wiepke van der Goot, head of
      the EU delegation in
      Malawi, told the Nation newspaper that the EU would
      not release $15-million
      remaining in the aid package until the issue is
      resolved.

      "That will be sad because Malawi needs the money
      now, especially with the
      hunger situation," Van der Goot said.

      The impoverished southern African is currently
      facing its worst food crisis,
      and needs 600 000 tons of maize, the staple food
      here, to stave off famine
      threatening up to 3,2-million people of a total
      population of 11-million.

      Van der Goot said an International Monetary Fund
      (IMF) mission that was in
      Malawi this month had advised the government to
      borrow money from the
      central bank to repay the seven million dollars. -
      Sapa-AFP

      *****

      Government Dismisses Charges of Food
      Politicisation

      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
      November 26, 2002
      Posted to the web November 26, 2002

      Johannesburg

      The Malawian government on Tuesday dismissed allegations that it was
      using emergency food aid to gain political leverage in the country's
      rural
      areas.

      Some 3.2 million Malawians face acute food shortages due to drought
      and
      what some observers call "government mismanagement".

      Presidential aide Willie Zingani told IRIN that recent reports
      suggesting the
      government had politicised food distribution was "unfounded" and the
      work
      of minor opposition parties "aiming to undermine the efforts to deal
      with an
      overwhelming challenge".

      "The distribution of food is not the sole responsibility of the
      government.
      Several parties including aid agencies, traditional chiefs and members
      of
      parliament are involved in registering potential beneficiaries. So to
      suggest
      that the government somehow has a stranglehold on who gets food and
      who doesn't is absurd," Zingani added.

      Last week the Pan African news agency (PANA) reported on accusations
      by opposition parties that the government had manipulated food
      distribution
      "to make it seem like it is coming from the [ruling] party".

      But Zingani refuted this, saying at no point had the government of
      President Bakili Muluzi inferred that the emergency food aid was
      coming
      from the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF).

      In a related development, the government has denied a report in the
      Chronicle newspaper on Tuesday that it would confiscate maize from
      NGOs suspected of using food aid to undermine the government.

      "I will not hesitate to snatch all the maize from those NGOs whom I
      feel are
      politicising the whole process," the newspaper quoted Muluzi as
      saying.

      Zingani said the president had received a complaint from an MP in
      Kafukule in the northern Mzimba district that some NGOs had failed to
      include government officials in the food distribution process.

      "The president welcomes the assistance of NGOs and implores all of
      them to work together with local chiefs and officials to make sure that
      the
      most vulnerable are fed. There are no plans to take food aid away from
      the
      NGOs," Zingani said.

      Meanwhile, CARE International said that it had not received any reports
      of
      people being denied food aid because of political affiliation.

      Programme Director Nicholas Osbourne told IRIN: "We are keeping an eye
      on reports in the media but we [CARE] have not received any reports of
      beneficiaries being turned away from feeding points. As far as
      possible
      CARE, like other NGOs, are working very closely with local community
      structures to ensure that the feeding process is fair and above
      board."

      *****

      Zambian minister fired
      over testimony

      By Penny Dale
      BBC, Lusaka

      Zambia's President Levy Mwanawasa has
      sacked his sports minister, replacing Levison
      Mumba with a woman who has also courted
      controversy.

      No reason has been given but the dismissal
      follows Mr Mumba's testimony last week
      against the president in a court case in which
      the opposition is asking the Supreme Court to
      nullify last December's election.

      Mr Mumba told the
      court that in
      November last year,
      when he was health
      minister, he authorised
      the use of a
      government vehicle for
      Mr Mwanawasa in his
      election campaign.

      The foundation for Mr
      Mumba's dismissal had
      been laid in the past
      few days: on Friday,
      Vice-President Enock
      Kavindele reportedly asked him to resign; on
      Sunday Mr Mwanawasa told a delegation of
      women ruling party activists demanding Mr
      Mumba's expulsion from the MMD that Mr
      Mumba had "disappointed" him and on Tuesday
      the deed was done.

      Mr Mumba was not available for comment. He
      is believed to be out of town, perhaps in his
      Petauke constituency in Eastern Province.

      Corruption

      This is not the first time Mr Mumba has been
      at the centre of controversy: his own election
      as MP is being challenged in the courts by the
      opposition, and during his short stay at the
      tourism ministry earlier this year, he was
      accused of corruption when he tried to issue
      safari concessions outside the tender process.

      The judge said that Mr
      Mumba's move was
      illegal and blocked the
      allocation.

      Despite Mr
      Mwanawasa's claims
      that he would fire any
      of his ministers as
      soon as there was
      even a whiff of
      corruption, Mr Mumba
      was merely moved
      sideways.

      He has been replaced at the sports ministry by
      Gladys Nyirongo, her reward, say political
      commentators, for defecting from the Heritage
      Party to the MMD during the crucial vote
      earlier in the year to elect the Speaker of the
      National Assembly.

      *****

      Zimbabwe boots AFP chief out of the
      country
      Harare

      27 November
      2002 09:37

      The Zimbabwe government on Tuesday refused to renew
      the work permit of
      the AFP bureau chief in Harare, who must now leave
      the country by the end
      of the week.

      AFP's chairman and chief executive officer Bertrand
      Eveno expressed the
      international news agency's "deep regret" at the
      decision in a letter to the
      Zimbabwe government.

      Stephane Barbier (43) who has been the bureau chief
      in the five-country
      regional office in Harare since July 2001, must
      leave by Saturday when his
      current work permit expires.

      Eveno said in the letter that AFP has maintained a
      regional office in
      Zimbabwe for 22 years "acting always in good faith
      and strict compliance
      with all laws and regulations of your country."

      "I am obliged to register Agence France-Presse's
      sincere disappointment in
      this matter," Eveno said.

      In September the Zimbabwe authorities refused to
      renew the work permit of
      Griffin Shea, a US national working for AFP.
      Barbier's initial one-year permit
      had been extended by six months in June this year.

      Information Minister Jonathan Moyo in July indicated
      to AFP that under the
      country's new press law, only Zimbabwean journalists
      would be allowed to
      work in the country.

      President Robert Mugabe enacted a law in March that
      imposed stringent
      limits on press freedoms for independent and foreign
      journalists working in
      the country.

      The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
      Act allows only
      permanent residents or Zimbabwean nationals to
      operate as journalists on a
      long-term basis. Foreign journalists may work only
      for an unspecified
      "limited period" or cover specific events.

      The Supreme Court is due to make a ruling in a
      lawsuit filed by Zimbabwean
      journalists challenging the constitutionality of the
      law.

      Subject to registration under the new law, AFP plans
      to keep its Harare
      office manned by Zimbabwean journalists but the
      regional office will move to
      Johannesburg, South Africa.

      The Harare bureau covers Angola, Malawi, Mozambique,
      Zambia and
      Zimbabwe. - Sapa-AFP
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