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  • Christine Chumbler
    Jan 10, 2003
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      Vampire fever sweeps Malawi
      Raphael Tenthani | Blantyre

      10
      January 2003 09:12

      A senior ruling party official was recovering in a
      hospital on Thursday after
      being stoned by an angry mob who believed rumours
      he was harbouring
      vampires.

      Malawi's government has been campaigning to quell
      vampire rumours that
      have spread throughout the impoverished southern
      African country, saying
      opposition elements were using the rumours to
      discredit the ruling party.

      Eric Chiwaya, a senior official with the United
      Democratic Front party was
      badly beaten in the attack on Wednesday night.

      Hundreds of people from a township south of
      Blantyre stoned his house and
      when he tried to escape by car, they stoned him
      inside the vehicle, he said.

      Police had to fire shots to disperse the crowd.
      Rumours had spread through
      the township that Chiwaya was harbouring vampires
      and had approached
      community leaders asking them to let them into the
      area.

      Police said three people had been arrested for
      inciting violence in the
      incident. Horrifying stories of vampires attacking
      villagers in the dead of night
      and sucking their blood began circulating last
      month in Malawi.

      Frightened villagers have beaten to death a man
      suspected of being a
      vampire, attacked and nearly lynched three visiting
      priests and destroyed an
      aid group's encampment they feared was the
      vampires' headquarters.

      President Bakili Muluzi called the rumours
      unfounded and malicious, and
      accused unnamed opposition groups of trying to
      undermine him by saying
      his government gave aid agencies human blood in
      exchange for food aid. -
      Sapa-AP

      *****

      White Farmer: Judge Seized Zimbabwe Farm

      By Angus Shaw
      Associated Press Writer
      Friday, January 10, 2003; 9:10 AM

      HARARE, Zimbabwe – A High Court judge ignored an
      order by his own court barring him from moving onto
      a farm
      confiscated from a white family, the owner of the
      disputed
      land said Friday.

      According to the white farmer, Vernon Nicolle, Judge
      Ben
      Hlatshwayo told him he was allocated the land by
      the
      government under its land reform program
      encouraging
      commercial farming by blacks.

      The controversial land reform program, which the
      government says is a tool to correct colonial era
      injustices by
      giving farms to poor, landless blacks, has come
      under fire for
      giving many of the prime farms instead to
      confidantes of
      longtime President Robert Mugabe.

      Nicolle obtained a High Court order in September
      freezing a government eviction notice on his property
      in Banket, 60 miles northwest of Harare on grounds
      there were errors in the notice.

      That order suspended Nicolle's eviction until the
      government revised the notice. It has not been
      reissued.

      Accompanied by a police escort, Hlatshwayo moved
      onto the 900-acre farm last month. He also
      moved equipment and workers there, according to
      correspondence to the judge by Nicolle's lawyers.

      Nicolle, one of the biggest grain producers in the
      district, is living in his farmhouse on an adjacent 192
      acres.

      "This has seriously affected my operations. The
      eviction was declared invalid and as a judge he should
      know how the legal system in Zimbabwe works,"
      Nicolle said Friday.

      "I'm going to take him to the High Court. We won't
      stop until we reach the end," he said.

      Hlatshwayo was not immediately available for
      comment. Nicolle said when he confronted Hlatshwayo,
      the judge said he had been allocated the land by the
      state.

      The government has confiscated more than 90 percent
      of land owned by about 4,000 white farmers
      under a plans to redistribute it to blacks to farm.

      At least 6.7 million people, more than half the
      population, face starvation blamed on erratic rainfall and
      agricultural disruptions caused by the chaotic land
      confiscations.

      Zimbabwe has been wracked by political and economic
      turmoil for nearly three years that began with
      violent farm seizures by ruling party militants.

      The country is suffering its worst ever economic
      crisis. Hard currency shortages have caused gas
      stations to run dry. Corn meal, the staple food,
      bread, milk, sugar and other commodities are scarce
      and long lines have become commonplace.

      Justice for Agriculture reported violent incidents
      and intimidation have continued against white farmers
      still on their land or visiting abandoned properties
      to collect belongings and equipment.

      It said a woman and her two children were assaulted
      in northwestern Zimbabwe on Thursday at their
      farm.

      Her husband, Alan Parsons, reported to police the
      identity of the assailant as Themba Mliswa, a ruling
      party activist and prominent soccer coach who
      apparently took over the family's farmhouse after they
      left last year, fearing for their safety.

      The farm, in the troubled Karoi district 120 miles
      northwest of Harare, had not been targeted for
      confiscation.

      "When I arrived at the farm, I was approached by
      Mliswa, who had changed the locks to the house. ...
      He asked what I was doing on the farm," Parsons
      said.

      *****

      China donates 4 500 tons of maize to
      Zimbabwe
      Harare

      10
      January 2003 10:58

      China has donated 4 500 tons of maize to famine-hit
      Zimbabwe, the
      state-controlled Herald newspaper reported on
      Friday.

      The donation of the southern African country's
      staple food, which was
      handed over on Thursday, comes at a time the
      country face a shortfall of
      well over 300 000 tons of maize between now and
      March, when the next
      harvest is due.

      Around eight-million out of Zimbabwe's 11,6-million
      people are threatened
      with famine.

      It is the hardest-hit out of six southern African
      countries affected by food
      shortages caused by drought and unsound government
      policies. - Sapa-AFP
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