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  • Christine Chumbler
    May 30, 2003
      Land dispute on Malawi tea estate turns violent
      Blantyre
      30 May 2003 14:46
      One man has been killed and several others injured in violent clashes
      between landless peasants and security guards at a tea estate in the
      southern Malawian district of Mulanje, police said on Thursday.

      Police representative George Chikowi said a group of 40 landless
      peasants from a village bordering Lauderdale Tea Estate invaded the
      estate on Tuesday and started parcelling up land among themselves.

      When security guards tried to evict them the irate peasants besieged
      the estate's chief security officer's house where fighting broke out.

      "A free-for-all fight erupted as the security guards tried to chase the
      intruders out of the estate," he said.

      The body of the slain peasant, whom police identified as 50-year-old
      Lewis Thunga, was found in a forest on the edge of the estate. He had
      multiple stab wounds.

      At least 10 people were injured -- four of them seriously, according to
      Mulanje District Hospital officials.

      The four, who were hacked with panga knives, are still receiving
      treatment at the hospital.

      The police representative said no arrests had been made in connection
      with Thunga's death but armed police officers had been sent to the
      estate to investigate the incident and to prevent any possible
      retaliatory attacks by angry villagers.

      He said the land dispute arose because the villagers misunderstand the
      concept of land lease as the estate in under lease from the government.

      "The estate is properly leased but the villagers don't seem to
      understand," he said.

      Makaula village residents say that as indigenous residents in the area
      they cannot allow estates to get all the good land while they do not
      have any.

      Lauderdale Tea Estate General Manager Rick Illingworth said that
      neighbouring Makaula villagers have been causing a lot of problems to
      the estate for the past two
      years.

      "We have been trying legal means to end the problem but we have so far
      been getting no cooperation from either government or the police," he
      said.

      A spokesman for the villagers, who declined to be name for fear of
      police reprisals, said the village has patchy rocky land where no
      meaningful agricultural practices can be carried out.

      He said government's promises on land have come to nothing.

      "We have to survive," he said.

      Lands minister Thengo Maloya is on record as having promised that
      government would repossess all idle land from big estates and
      redistribute among the landless using the controversial new land
      policy.

      The new land policy bars any foreigner from owning land in Malawi. -
      Sapa-AFP

      *****

      Farmers Criticise Ban of Lower Shire Meat

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      May 28, 2003
      Posted to the web May 28, 2003

      Brian Ligomeka
      Blantyre7

      Cattle farmers in the Lower Shire districts of Nsanje and Chikwawa say
      the blanket ban on meat products following the outbreak of foot and
      mouth disease has crippled their business.

      The farmers accuse the government of over-reacting to the outbreak of
      foot and mouth saying that the outbreak only affected a 15 kilometre
      radius in the Lower Shire.

      Jasiteni Jenala, a prominent cattle farmer in Nsanje argues that it is
      unfair to restrict movement of livestock and meat products from all
      quarters, because of an outbreak which has just affected a small area.

      "We are really devastated because the six months ban will cripple our
      businesses," said Jenala, whose farm slaughters up to 10 cattle each
      day.

      His concerns are shared by James Nguluwe, a cattle farmer at Chapananga
      in Chikwawa, who says that the government should bear in mind the fact
      that people in the Lower Shire depend on cattle rearing to earn their
      living.

      "It is a known fact the crops do not do well here.

      We rear livestock as our main of source of livelihood and our readily
      available market is Blantyre.

      This restriction of cattle, goats and pigs has hit us hard indeed," he
      said.

      The complaints come after the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and
      Food Security instituted a blanket ban on meat and its products from
      major cattle producing districts along the Shire River valley, due to a
      foot and mouth disease outbreak reported in some parts of the area.

      Senior officials in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Food
      Security who are engaged in a war of words with private sector in the
      meat industry over the surprise ban, say they have taken samples from
      infected animals to determine the type of vaccine to be administered, in
      order to contain further spread of the outbreak.

      As at going to press, no figures of infected or dead animals had been
      made available.

      Cattle farmers in the Lower Shire districts of Nsanje and Chikwawa,
      blame the government for announcing a ban without consulting other
      stakeholders, claiming it was only a small part of Nchalo in Chikwawa
      district that was affected.

      The disease, according to veterinary officials, was contracted from
      buffaloes at the Lengwe National Park in Chikwawa.

      Local cattle farmers have erected road blocks around their areas, while
      others restrict their herds in pens.

      The ban, which the Agriculture Ministry says will be in effect for six
      months, has prompted an outcry from players in the beef and animal
      products industry.

      "I was counting on selling my three head of cattle to assist my family,
      only to be put off on the eleventh hour," complained Maliko Zambaza of
      Nsanje.

      Butchers, meat suppliers and shops complain of dwindling meat supplies
      in Blantyre.

      Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Food
      Security, Dr Ellard Malindi, confirmed that the ban would stay for a
      six-month period to prevent neighbouring tea and coffee growing
      districts of Thyolo and Mulanje, from being affected.

      Malindi said authorities were not only fearing for meat but other
      products as well, saying the outbreak could affect Malawi's other
      exports to the outside world.

      *****

      Country Benefits From New Banking Technologies

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      May 28, 2003
      Posted to the web May 28, 2003

      Brian Ligomeka
      Blantyre

      Reserve Bank of Malawi governor Dr Elias Ngalande says Malawi is one of
      a few developing countries in the region, which is reaping the sweet
      fruits of the modernisation of the banking industry.

      Ngalande says the modern banking technologies, which commercial banks
      in the country have adapted have made the banking industry excel in
      providing services to their customers.

      He cited the introduction of banking automation system and online
      services as some of the new sorted out problems, which most customers
      were facing before the introduction of the new technologies.

      "Today a customer with an account in Blantyre is free to draw money in
      Mzuzu and Lilongwe. Likewise cheques, which took weeks to be cleared by
      banks are now cleared within days," said Ngalande.

      He added: "The Electronic Funds Transfer, made possible by the
      existence of the Real Time Gross Settlement system, offers bank
      customers a means of transferring funds from one bank to another within
      the financial system that is faster and safer than cheques, which can
      take a long time to clear and are subject to numerous forms of forgery.
      Do you remember that it wasn't so long ago that 21 days was not unheard
      of clearing time?"

      The Central Bank governor explained that the modernisation of the
      banking sector has also enabled investors to invest in the country's
      banking industry citing Standard Bank acquisition of shares in
      Commercial Bank of Malawi and the acquisition of Fincom by Nedbank of
      South Africa.

      Ngalande said that the buying of shares in Malawi's Commercial Banks by
      Standard and Stanbic group, despite the economic problems the country is
      facing demonstrates the confidence the group has in the country's
      banking sector.

      Standard and Stanbic group has made two significant acquisitions in
      Africa in the past year.

      It acquired Uganda Commercial Bank for US$ 19.5 million and Commercial
      Bank of Malawi (CBU) for US$13.5 million.

      Standard Bank's deputy chief executive, Myles Ruck, enthuses that the
      group's performance in some African states was enhanced by lower credit
      loses due to improved recoveries and margins.

      Other factors that contributed to success include increased focuses on
      treasury functions, re-pricing, new products and a broader portfolio of
      banks creating sustainable earnings growth.

      Stanbic Africa management director, Sim Tshabalala, says the group was
      only interested in acquisitions that fit its strategy and resources.

      "We are always interested in opportunities. But we have a growth
      strategy with priorities based on the resources available," said
      Tshabalala.

      The acquisition of 60 percent stakes in the Commercial Bank of Malawi,
      a deal that was finished towards the end of 2002, confirms Stanbic's
      ambition to gain its foothold in Africa.

      CBM chief executive, Victor Mbewe, says by November this year CBM is to
      change its current image and trading name.

      "We have been a passive bank in the past.

      Now the new shareholders want a vigorous sales approach and improved
      efficiency and service delivery," Mbewe said.

      Meanwhile Stanbic is also eyeing Zambia's state owned Zambia National
      Commercial Bank.

      Both Stanbic and a fellow South African banking group, ABSA, have been
      shortlisted to acquire 51 percent in Zambia's biggest bank, which is
      being sold as part of the privatisation government is undertaking.

      *****

      Zimbabwe braces for 'final push'
      Harare
      30 May 2003 08:30
      Zimbabwe's justice minister accused opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
      on Thursday of wanting to stage a coup against President Robert Mugabe's
      government through his call for anti-government marches.

      Patrick Chinamasa told state television that Tsvangirai's call for
      Zimbabweans to rise up "in their millions" and stage "democracy marches"
      and stayaways next week constituted "high treason".

      "The clear intention behind such threatened actions is to effect a coup
      d'etat against the legitimately elected government of Zimbabwe,"
      Chinamasa was quoted as saying by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation
      (ZBC).

      Earlier, the army warned that it would forcefully quell any violence
      associated with the stayaways.

      Tsvangirai does not recognise Mugabe as the country's legitimate
      leader, following a disputed victory Mugabe had over Tsvangirai in
      elections last year. His party wants a re-run of the poll.

      Already, Tsvangirai and two other senior officials are on trial for
      treason following an alleged plot to assassinate Mugabe ahead of the
      2002 election. They deny the charges, and claim they were set up.

      Chinamasa said it would be futile for Tsvangirai to try and achieve
      what he had not achieved through the alleged plot by calling for
      anti-government demonstrations.

      "Mr Tsvangirai cannot seek to achieve, through a coup d'etat or
      banditry, what he failed to achieve through the alleged attempted
      assassination of the head of state," he charged.

      The justice minister's comments came on the same day as Zimbabwe's army
      warned it would crack down forcefully on any act of violence during the
      planned mass action.

      The Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) "will not be an idle observer" to
      democracy marches and street demonstrations called by the opposition
      Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), it said in a statement quoted by
      the state-run Herald newspaper.

      "Instead it will bring to bear its full force upon those perpetrators
      of uncalled-for violence," it added.

      The MDC has dubbed the mass action, scheduled to last for a week from
      June 2, the "final push" for freedom. The party blames Mugabe's
      government of mismanaging the economy and increasing hardships for all
      Zimbabweans.

      Bank notes and blood for transfusions have joined the list of
      shortages, that include basic foodstuffs. Inflation is running at 269%
      and rising.

      Although the opposition party has called for a peaceful demonstration
      next week, a job stayaway called by the MDC in March saw the
      petrol-bombing of buses and offices belonging to Mugabe's Zanu-PF
      party.

      "It is a fact that previous stayaways turned violent with both innocent
      lives of citizens and property being deliberately destroyed," the army
      said.

      The MDC has been running advertisements in the private media urging the
      armed forces not to compromise their professional neutrality by acting
      as a "private force" for Mugabe's party.

      "National security forces are not and should never play the role of
      political arbiters or judges in the people's struggle against
      dictatorship," said one opposition advert.

      Tensions are rising ahead of the planned demonstrations. Three women
      were arrested on Wednesday in central Harare as they took part in
      MDC-organised prayer sessions.

      MDC activists were distributing leaflets on Thursday, declaring that
      Zimbabweans were "living miserable lives at the hands of a regime that
      has lost all love and fear of God". - Sapa-AFP

      *****

      Zimbabwe bank prints cash to stave off 'panic'
      Harare
      30 May 2003 09:05

      The head of Zimbabwe's central bank said on Thursday the country is
      printing money "at full capacity" in an urgent bid to alleviate chronic
      cash shortages gripping the southern African nation.

      Leonard Tsumba, governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, told a press
      conference that his bank is due to inject 24-billion Zimbabwe dollars
      (US$29-million) into the economy by mid-June.

      But soaring inflation rates mean the problem is likely to persist, he
      said.

      Shortages of bank notes are currently crippling operations in business
      and industry. Hundreds of people again queued on Thursday in central
      Harare in a bid to withdraw cash from banks. Banks have limited cash
      withdrawals, amid reports a black market has arisen for the local
      currency.

      Tsumba said the situation was "abnormal".

      But he said that while measures were being taken to inject fresh cash
      into the economy, the problem was likely to remain given Zimbabwe's
      soaring inflation rates.

      Inflation in Zimbabwe is now 269% and rising.

      "What we're trying to do is guard against unnecessary panic," Tsumba
      said.

      He pleaded with people and businesses to bank their cash. Many have
      been hoarding cash amid fears they will not be able to access it.

      Cash shortages first surfaced after a mass stayaway last month and new
      protests are planned for next week.

      "An economy that operates on cash alone is a retrogressive economy,"
      Tsumba said. He urged people to use cheques and credit cards more.

      A new 1 000 Zimbabwe dollar note is to be introduced in November, the
      banking official said. - Sapa-AFP
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