- Jan 28, 2003'Third-term' protests
broken up in Malawi
Police in Malawi have fired tear gas to disperse
demonstrators angry at proposals to let
President Bakili Muluzi run for a third term in
Some 2,000 people marched in the commercial
capital, Blantyre, before the protest was
broken up, according to Reuters news agency.
In Lilongwe, parliament
has started an
emergency debate over
a proposed change to
the constitution to let
Mr Muluzi contest
elections scheduled for
The current constitution only allows presidents
to serve two terms.
A similar bill was narrowly defeated by
parliament last year.
Knives and stones
Some 15 people were arrested by the police
and two people were taken to hospital,
Some of the protesters carried placards
reading "Muluzi leave Malawi in peace".
were organised by a
coalition of Christian
Some Muslim groups
have backed the
proposals to let Mr
Muluzi stand again.
Supporters of Mr
Muluzi armed with
knives and stones
were also planning to march, reports the
French news agency, AFP.
Police said they fired tear gas to prevent
clashes between the rival groups.
Following a wave of anti third-term protests
last year, Mr Muluzi banned public
demonstrations on the issue.
Justice Minister Henry
Phoya denied that the
new bill threatened
democracy, as he
"It does not mean the
will be the next
there will be free and
fair elections and the
majority of people can
vote him out."
Mr Muluzi's United Democratic Front has 95
MPs and needs an extra 28 votes from the
opposition for the two-thirds majority needed
to change the constitution.
Scuffles Delay Decision On Muluzi Third Term
UN Integrated Regional Information
January 28, 2003
Posted to the web January 28, 2003
Debate on a proposed constitutional amendment which would allow
President Bakili Muluzi to run for a third term has been deferred
following scuffles outside and inside parliament on Tuesday.
Sources in the capital told IRIN there was a heavy police presence
parliament, where police had to fire teargas at protestors on Monday.
Debate on the proposed amendment had to be postponed for the first
on Monday following clashes in Lilongwe and Blantyre between police,
pro-third term protestors and anti-third term protestors.
Muluzi had earlier banned all protests around the issue.
When debate resumed in parliament on Tuesday, an eyewitness in the
chamber told IRIN the atmosphere was charged. So much so that scuffles
broke out on the steps of parliament, a clergyman was apparently
and inside parliamentary chambers. A ruling party MP was reportedly
injured inside chambers.
He said: "It was clear the ruling party was going to lose again. Soon
[the scuffle inside parliament] the minister of justice announced that
had decided to refer the debate to a special legal affairs committee
parliament, to look at comments that had come from the opposition and
the ruling party.
"Later on the attorney-general was briefing reporters outside [saying]
there was no time-frame when it [the amendment bill] would come back
It was uncertain in what guise, if at all, the bill would return to
the legal affairs committee was chaired by an anti-third term
Donors, on whose development aid Malawi depends heavily, have warned
Muluzi against amending the constitution and trying to hold on to
Muluzi's bid for a third term suffered its first setback in early July
when a bill proposing an amendment to the constitution was narrowly
A second attempt at tabling the bill in October 2002 - after Minister
Justice Henry Phoya proclaimed the government's intention to amend the
constitution in a government gazette - failed again due to opposition
Civic organisations and church groups have rallied in opposition to
proposed third term amendment, said Nicholas Mkwabata of Public
Committee, a lobby group constituted by churches.
He told IRIN there was widespread opposition to another term for
The group had organised protests and was lobbying heavily against the
The ruling United Democratic Front had caught opposition and civil
off-guard with the surprise tabling for the bill for debate in an
session of parliament.
"We did not know this bill was going to be tabled, so yesterday
most of the opposition members of parliament were hoping they could
to vote [against it]. But the vote was delayed," Mkwabata told IRIN.
Spectre of Famine Still Looms for Fragile Malawi, UN
United Nations (New York)
January 27, 2003
Posted to the web January 28, 2003
The United Nations top humanitarian envoy for southern Africa has
that the food security situation in Malawi remains fragile and slight
made to avert famine could be easily eroded by a combination of
late rains and floods.
Continuing his week-long, five-nation mission in southern Africa,
Morris, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Envoy for Humanitarian
Needs in the region, said yesterday that despite rapid response from
international community, the crisis is "far from over and the
remains so fragile that gains could be easily eroded." HIV/AIDS, late
and floods are threatening this year's upcoming harvest, placing
people at risk of starvation.
The envoy, who travelled to one of the worst flood-affected districts
his visit to Malawi, said that along with the converging HIV/AIDS and
crises, floods earlier this month caused by Cyclone Delfina wreaked
throughout the country, destroying hundreds of acres of desperately
needed maize, the staple food. More than 30,000 people were displaced
the floods, which also caused significant damage to roads, bridges and
Mr. Morris said that at the root of the humanitarian crisis in Malawi,
with erratic weather and chronic poverty, "is the HIV/AIDS pandemic,
is threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions of people." About
cent of the country's population is infected with HIV, the virus that
AIDS. The virus worsens the effects that famine has on people due to
weakened immune systems.
Accusations Against Malawian Truckers
Agencia de Informacao de
January 21, 2002
Posted to the web January 24, 2003
Tete (Mozambique), 24 Jan (AIM) - The Mozambican police have
accused Malawian truck drivers of illegally selling fuel along the
road from Zimbabwe to Malawi, which runs through the middle of the
western Mozambican province of Tete.
The Tete police say that at night the truckers remove fuel from the
tanks of their own vehicles and sell it. There is a market for the
along the Tete corridor, since the Malawians sell it at cheaper prices
than motorists can buy fuel from authorised distributors.
Thus the Malawian drivers are accused of swindling their own
companies, and of unfair competition with legal fuel distributors.
The police have cracked down on this activity. According to the Tete
provincial police commander, Jose Mapilele, a police operation along
the corridor resulted in the seizure of 2,525 litres of diesel, and
litres of petrol.
He promised that this year the police will step up the battle against
illegal sales of fuel. The objective, he said, was "to put an end to
evil once and for all, in defence of the Mozambican economy".
Terror warnings cripple Zanzibar
Alex Ortolani | Zanzibar
January 2003 10:20
A terrorist warning issued by the United States,
Australian governments has hampered the tourism
the popular beach resort of Zanzibar, comprising
(Zanzibar Island) and Pemba Island.
Zanzibar's economy, which once relied heavily on
exports, is now bolstered by a foreign tourism
brings in thousands of travellers every year.
On January 11 the US State Department cautioned
about an attack on an unspecified location
frequented by tourists in
Zanzibar, citing markets, bars and nightclubs as
areas to avoid. The
message followed a general warning for travellers
in East Africa about
"continuing potential for terrorist actions,
including kidnapping", issued more
than one month after a car bomb killed 14 in the
coastal city of Mombasa,
The British government followed the US by
cautioning tourists that an
"international terrorist group" might be
planning an attack on Zanzibar. The
Australian government likewise recommended
"extreme caution" to travellers
just months after the Bali blasts took numerous
No country has directly ordered tourists or foreign
nationals to evacuate the
The warnings have left many restaurant tables, tour
bus seats and hotel
rooms empty on the islands during a peak tourist
season that runs from
November through February, said Issa Mlingoti,
director for tourism, planning
and development at Zanzibar's Commission for
"There have been numerous cancellations in all
sectors of the tourism
industry," Mlingoti said. "It's a big
challenge for us. For the time being we
can only increase security and wait it out."
The commission sent a letter to tour operators in
the area giving details of
how to increase security and make patrons feel
secure, said Mlingoti. It
includes putting guards at entrances to check bags,
making sure all guests
sign in with appropriate documentation and
preventing cars from parking
near public places.
"We do not have the power to tell tourists
'Stay, do not go back home'," he
said. "We cannot override the decision of their
governments, though we feel
Zanzibar is as safe as ever."
Khamis Ayub, of Links Tours & Travel in Zanzibar
Town, said the warning
had hit particularly hard because of its timing.
"It came during the first [month] of the year,
right when we have a number of
expenses to be met," Ayub said. "We need to pay
insurance, taxes and our
tour guide operators at this time, and now there is
very little money coming
Ayub said his company would usually be catering for
between 20 and 25
tourists a day. Two days after the warnings those
numbers had dropped
from about six to zero. "At this rate we might
have to close up the office
early in the season," Ayub said.
The fear of terrorist attacks has also hit the
hotel industry. Some are
resorting to bringing prices down to low-season
rates, though that is doing
little to bring in new customers.
Hotel Marine Zanzibar manager HR Kijiba sifted
through a stack of printed
e-mails from travel agents cancelling tour groups
from Britain and Australia.
"We should have a hotel with 20 full rooms,"
Kijiba said. "Instead, right now,
we only have two. What can we do? No amount of
advertising will take away
Some well-tanned backpackers could still be seen
wandering about Stone
Town's winding streets and colourful shops.
British traveller Emma Richardson did not let the
warnings spoil her overland
trip through Africa. She said her tour group was
told about the warnings a
few days before reaching Dar es Salaam.
"They gave us the choice to stay on in Dar if we
did not want to risk going to
Zanzibar," Richardson said. "I did not even
think of not coming. In fact, it
made me more adamant to come and enjoy the
Abraham Mussa, a taxi driver on the island, spoke
from the hood of his
vehicle while eyeing the pristine blue of the
ocean. "Where is Osama [bin
Laden]?" Mussa asked. "I don't know. You
don't. No one does. I wish he
were in Zanzibar. Then I would find him, hand him
over to [US President
George W] Bush and get back to driving my taxi."
Abuse spreads HIV
among Zambian girls
Girls in Zambia are five times more likely to be
infected with the HIV virus than their male
counterparts due to widespread sexual abuse,
a human rights organisation has reported.
New York-based Human
Rights Watch described
in its report - entitled
Suffering in Silence -
how young girls who
suffer abuse often
experience it whilst in
the hands of an elder or
a guardian who is
supposed to protect
It says girls are also often raped on long walks
to school, or abused by teachers.
Others, orphaned as a result of Zambia's high
rate of HIV infection, are forced to become
prostitutes or to form sexual relationships with
much older men.
The organisation condemned Zambian police
and authorities for often being insensitive and
ineffective in enforcing anti-sexual abuse laws
in Zambia, leading to girls being reluctant to
report any such abuse.
"Young girls are preyed upon by older men,
including those who dare call themselves
guardians or caretakers of these girls, and the
government fails to protect them," Washington
director for HRW Africa Division Janet
The organisation warns that attacks on girls -
some as young as eight-years-old - are now
so common that unless the Zambian
Government begins to address the issue little
will be achieved in the fight against HIV and
It called for better training for police and court
officials regarding the issue of sexual abuse
and said those who commit such offences
should be vigorously prosecuted.
And the organisation also said that money the
Zambian Government will soon receive from the
Global Health Fund should be spent on
strengthening support networks for victims.
An estimated 21.5% of Zambia's adult
population is infected with HIV, the virus which
causes Aids, and about 120,000 children are
also thought to be infected.
Hungry Zambians loot rejected GM food
January 2003 15:55
An estimated 6 000 Zambian villagers overpowered an
armed policeman and
looted food aid consisting largely of maize
rejected by the government
because it was genetically modified, police said on
Southern Province Minister George Mpombo said 4 600
of GM and non-GM staple maize were stolen at the
Sizanongwe, 300 kilometres from the capital.
He said starving villagers overpowered the lone
policeman after word went
round that the maize was to be returned to Lusaka.
Despite the threat of starvation that faces more
than two million Zambians,
Zambia has imposed an outright ban on GM food aid.
Southern Province is the region hardest hit by
famine in Zambia. The
villagers also got away with beans, seed maize and
scales donated by an
international relief agency World Vision.
Some traditional chiefs in the area supported the
villagers' action, accusing
the government of neglecting the people in the
worst famine-stricken areas
where people were surviving on wild fruits and
plants. - Sapa-AFP
US tells its citizens to consider leaving
January 2003 10:10
The United States on Monday warned US citizens of
the risk of travelling to
Zimbabwe amid ongoing political, economic and
humanitarian crises and
said Americans in the country now should consider
"Zimbabwe is in the midst of political, economic
and humanitarian crises
with serious implications for the security
situation in the country," the State
"All US citizens in Zimbabwe are urged to take
those measures they deem
appropriate to ensure their well-being, including
consideration of departure
from the country," it said in a statement.
The statement noted increased crime and lawlessness
due to a "precipitous
decline" in Zimbabwe's economy that has sent the
inflation rates soaring.
In addition, it said existing food shortages could
result in famine which
would, in turn, lead to general unrest and a
further deterioration of the
security situation. - Sapa-AFP
Zimbabwe police probe 'church reporters'
January 2003 11:23
Five foreigners suspected of being undercover
journalists reporting on
Zimbabwe's hunger crisis have been picked up for
questioning by police,
representative Wayne Bvudzijena said on Sunday.
He said the five were picked up in Zvishavane, a
mining town in the
drought-hit south of the country, along with a
journalist from a local daily
newspaper. Under Zimbabwe's strict press laws it is
illegal for journalists to
work without accreditation from a government
commission. The government
accuses a hostile international media of trying to
Bvudzijena said the five, whose passports indicated
they were journalists,
had been allowed to return to their hotel while
"We're convinced that they're not aid workers,"
One of those arrested, Kathleen Kastilahn, told AFP
via telephone from
Zvishavane that she was merely reporting for a
Their group was picked up on Friday evening and
questioned by police,
Kastilahn said. "They think we're here to do
clandestine journalism," she
said. "We're here to tell the story for our
Kastilahn said she and her five colleagues had been
invited by the Lutheran
World Federation Development Services to tour
projects in the area and hold
meetings with churches.
Among those arrested is Zimbabwean journalist
Fanuel Jongwe of the
privately owned Daily News newspaper. The others
include two Germans --
one a freelance photographer -- a representative of
Finnish Church Aid and a
Kenyan coordinator for the Lutheran Development
Jongwe said they had been told they were being
arrested under the Public
Order and Security Act and were due to have
statements recorded by police
"We have been told not to leave the hotel," he
added. In an earlier report the
state-controlled Sunday Mail claimed that five
suspected journalists and a
Zimbabwean reporter from a local daily had been
arrested and were in police
custody. The five were posing as aid workers but
had been "sent into the
country to secretly write stories aimed at
tarnishing the image of the
government," the paper claimed.
The Zimbabwe government and aid agencies are
emergency food aid to some of the estimated
eight-million of Zimbabwe's
11,6-million people threatened by famine.
Since a tough new press law came into effect last
year, at least 12
journalists have been arrested and two foreign
correspondents told to leave
Foreign journalists are allowed into Zimbabwe for
short periods of time, but
must apply for accreditation before they arrive. -
EU to decide on Mugabe
European Union foreign ministers are deciding
whether to renew sanctions against the
government of Zimbabwe's President Robert
Mugabe at a meeting in Brussels on Monday.
The measures include a travel ban on senior
government figures, but France has invited Mr
Mugabe to a Franco-African summit in Paris
next month, angering several countries.
France argues that EU sanctions against
Zimbabwe allow officials to attend meetings in
Europe if the focus is on human rights and
Britain and a number of other countries -
including Sweden and the Netherlands - want
to keep Mr Mugabe out.
Concern has also been growing about England's
World Cup cricket match due to be played in
Zimbabwe, after players received letters
threatening violence at the game.
At a press conference on Monday, the England
team asked for the 13 February match against
Zimbabwe to be moved to South Africa.
It is the first time the players have said they
do not want to play in Zimbabwe. s
The EU travel ban, along with a freeze on Mr
Mugabe's assets, was imposed last February as
violence flared in the run-up to a presidential
election which was later widely condemned as
Supporters of sanctions fear that if the
Zimbabwean leader is prevented from travelling
to Paris, France will allow the entire sanctions
regime to lapse.
Sanctions are due to
expire on 18 February,
just one day before
France argues other
African nations would
boycott the summit if
Mr Mugabe is not
There were already
concerns about Mr
Mugabe attending an
EU-Africa summit in April before the latest
This had led to some EU members seeking a
compromise that would have seen Zimbabwe's
Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge attend the
summit in Lisbon in his place - although the
minister would also need a travel waiver.
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