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  • Christine Chumbler
    Jan 7, 2003
      Malawi floods kill four, over 15 000

      January 2003 11:50

      Floods in Malawi have left four people dead and
      more than 15 000 people
      homeless while causing extensive damage to
      desperately-needed maize
      crops, relief officials said on Sunday.

      "The situation is very bad. Extensive flooding has
      taken place," said Lucius
      Chikni, commissioner of disaster and relief.

      "Thousands of people are homeless and there has
      been extensive crop
      damage," he added.

      Two people died when heavy rains hit the south of
      the country on Thursday,
      caused four big rivers to burst their banks. Two
      others died last week when
      flooding occurred in the north of the country,
      leaving 290 families homeless.

      The main highway connecting the commercial centre
      Blantyre to Lilongwe
      the administrative capital, was reported to have
      been heavily damaged in
      some sections.
      High tension power lines were brought down by the
      storm, disrupting power
      supply in Blantyre on Sunday for several hours.

      Chikuni said he and Poverty and Disaster Management
      Minister Lee Mlanga
      on Sunday flew by helicopter to the affected
      lakeshore districts of Ntcheu
      and Dedza, to conduct an assessment of the

      He said most of the flooding had been caused by
      tropical cyclone Delfina
      which hit the country last week, and was aggravated
      by environmental

      The floods are likely to increase hardship in a
      country where some three
      million people are threatened by famine.

      Floods last year were partly responsible for
      causing the current food
      shortages in the southern African country. Malawi
      needs 600 000 tons of
      maize, its national staple, to stave off famine. -


      Finance Minister Probed Over Sale of Maize

      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
      January 6, 2003
      Posted to the web January 6, 2003


      Malawi's finance minister is expected to come under investigation for
      involvement in the controversial sale of the country's strategic maize
      reserves just months before widespread crop failure, officials told
      IRIN on

      With 3.3 million Malawians facing hunger, President Bakili Muluzi last
      appointed a commission of inquiry to investigate the alleged
      mismanagement of the state-run Agriculture Development and Marketing
      Corporation (ADMARC).

      The commission is expected to investigate whether Finance Minister
      Friday Jumbe, who was then head of ADMARC, had "unduly" benefited
      from the sale of the maize.

      "Minister Jumbe is just one of the officials who will be investigated.
      There is
      to date no evidence of guilt or innocence. The commission is merely a
      fact-finding commission. It is our mandate to find out if Jumbe
      benefited personally from his involvement in the management or sale of
      the said maize," commission chairman Khuze Kapeta told IRIN.

      Almost 160,000 mt of grain was sold from the strategic grain reserves
      August 2000, of which 60,000 mt was exported to Kenya.

      This was after unprecedented floods earlier in the year had ravaged
      production. The floods, followed by drought, left Malawi with a
      shortfall of
      about 480,000 mt and made it one of the hardest hit of the six
      African countries - along with Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland
      and Lesotho - that are struggling to cope with their worst food
      in recent years.

      The government has blamed the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for
      forcing it to sell at least part of the reserve in 2000 to reduce debt,
      accusation denied by the IMF.

      The IMF's countered that Malawi sold the maize after advice from a
      consultant, hired by the government in a European Union-funded

      In August last year, former Poverty Alleviation Minister Leonard
      was sacked by Muluzi for alleged corruption in the sale of the

      Magulama was named in an Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) report into the
      matter which accused him of acquiring 300 mt of maize without paying

      It also named several parliamentarians, from both the opposition and
      ruling party, who bought maize from the strategic grain reserves for
      in different markets.

      ACB Deputy Director, Alex Nampota, told IRIN: "We conducted our
      investigations in the most transparent way and our final report
      reflected our
      findings. But the fact that a commission of inquiry has been set up to
      further investigate the sale of the maize suggests that there are

      "The commission will hopefully satisfy those who are still worried
      about the
      sale of the reserves. It goes toward showing ordinary Malawians who
      suffering that the government is doing something to be rid of
      Nampota said.


      Zimbabwe food riots

      Four police officers have been injured in a
      dormitory town near Harare, when youths
      attacked people queuing for food on Sunday,
      police have said.

      In the second city of Bulawayo, there is tight
      security around the courthouse, where 39
      people are appearing in connection with food
      riots on Friday, reports the French news
      agency, AFP.

      Up to six million
      people, half of the
      population, are
      suffering from food
      shortages according to
      aid agencies.

      Meanwhile, President
      Robert Mugabe has
      moved to tighten his
      control of the main
      cities, which are
      opposition strongholds,
      by announcing that he will appoint governors
      for both Harare and Bulawayo.

      Correspondents say that governors enjoy
      considerable power and they are likely to be
      used to sideline opposition mayors in both

      'Green Bombers'

      Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said that
      about 200 people were queuing up for
      mealie-meal, the scare staple food, when a
      group of youths attacked the police who were
      controlling the crowd.

      "In the process of controlling the crowd, some
      youths came and disrupted the queue resulting
      in four police officers being injured," Mr
      Bvudzijena told AFP.

      Opposition supporters
      have been prevented
      from receiving food aid
      and even from buying
      food in urban areas,
      says the Movement for
      Democratic Change
      (MDC) and donor

      But it is reported that
      activists from Mr
      Mugabe's Zanu-PF
      party were behind the
      disturbances in both
      the town of Chitungwiza, 23km south of
      Harare, and Bulawayo.

      The privately owned Daily News reports that
      "Green Bombers", graduates of a
      government-run youth training scheme, were
      involved in the Chitungwiza riots.

      The police said they had not identified the

      In Bulawayo, a group of "war veterans" was
      dispersed by riot police when they tried to
      protest outside the courthouse on Monday.

      State media have accused the "war veterans",
      who have been used to intimidate opposition
      supporters, of organising Friday's food riots.

      They were apparently unhappy at the unfair
      distribution of food.

      The state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting
      Corporation reported that residents had
      accused grain board officials of corruptly
      supplying maize to unscrupulous millers, who
      then sold it on at exorbitant prices.


      Zimbabwe's eight largely rural provinces
      already have governors, who also sit in

      Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo
      denied that the new governors would make the
      opposition mayors redundant and said they
      would coordinate development.

      Opposition parties point the finger of blame at
      Mr Mugabe and his government for the food
      shortages because of disruption caused by his
      controversial programme of land reform.

      The president says the cause of the crisis is a
      combination of a drought and a Western
      imperialistic plot aimed at keeping power in the
      hands of Zimbabwe's whites.
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