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  • Christine Chumbler
    Dec 17, 2003
      $5.6m Needed for Malawi Border Demarcation

      The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

      December 16, 2003
      Posted to the web December 16, 2003

      Abel Mboozi

      ABOUT $5.6 million is required to complete demarcating the border between Zambia and Malawi to end persistent encroachment accusations.

      A report by a joint survey team said the money is meant to complete demarcation of the remaining 604 km.

      Lands ministry surveyor-general Danny Mubanga who read out the report yesterday, said there was urgent need for the Malawian and Zambian governments to commit funds to end persistent hostilities on the common land between the two countries.

      He said the demarcation of the boundary on the ground would harmonise relations of the communities living on the common border and subsequently create a conducive environment for development.

      He was speaking when he presented the report at the joint Zambia, Malawi international boundary meeting at Luangwa House.

      And Zambia's High Commissioner to Malawi Ian Sikazwe also reiterated the need to end perceived border hostilities.

      He said although the task would be expensive, it was important that the border was demarcated for the sake of peace.

      He appealed to the donor community to assist the Government in order to complete the project on time.

      Earlier Lands Permanent Secretary George Kawatu commended experts from both governments who had undertaken the first phase of the exercise covering Mwami/Muchinji area.

      He said it was a pity that the colonial masters overlooked the issue but he expressed hope that it would be resolved.

      And his counterpart from Malawi Andrina Mchiela hailed leaders from the two countries for creating an enabling environment to meet and discuss issues of common interest.

      The Zambian delegation included Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Peter Mumba and experts from the land surveyor-general's office.


      Mozambique prison director gunned down


      17 December 2003 09:05

      Gunmen have shot dead the director of Mozambique's maximum security prison, where a major fraud trial got under way last week in the country's capital Maputo, the Interior Ministry announced on Tuesday.

      Ministry spokesperson Nataniel Macamo said that Armando Ussufo was gunned down on Monday evening in a suburb of the capital by unknown criminals who then stole his car.

      "He was murdered at around 7pm (1700 GMT) by unknown assailants," he said.

      "We are searching for the attackers and we are investigating the motive for the crime."

      Macamo said he believed the crime had nothing to do with car theft, as Ussufo's vehicle was not in the group generally preferred by thieves, who do not usually kill their victims in the Mozambican capital.

      Macamo said the former prison boss could have been strangled before he was shot in the head.

      The attack on Ussufo took place just days after the start of the trial of more than 15 people accused of being involved in a $14-million fraud case at Banco Comercial de Mocambique (BCM) in 1996.

      The trial began on Friday morning in the maximum security jail.

      Among the accused in the BCM case are three convicts serving sentences of between 23 and 24 years for ordering the late 2000 assassination of Mozambican journalist Carlos Cardoso as he investigated the fraud at the bank.

      Cardoso had exerted pressure on the Mozambican authorities to rapidly identify the fraud culprits and bring them to justice.

      He also investigated illegal trade activities, some of which were used to cover drugs trafficking in Mozambique.

      The murdered jail boss was a controversial figure during the trial in mid-2003 of seven policemen, accused of releasing another of Cardoso's assassins, Anibal Antonio dos Santos.

      Testifying in court, Ussufo openly held the seven policemen, who included a high-ranking officer, responsible for dos Santos' escape.

      The court acquitted all the seven for lack of sufficient evidence.

      Ussufo was found to have altered the security system in the jail, a move that could have facilitated the escape of dos Santos and other criminals.

      Dos Santos was sentenced in absentia to 28 years. He returned to Mozambique from his hiding in South Africa on the day his sentenced was handed down. - Sapa-AFP


      Cholera sweeps through Zambian capital

      Zarina Geloo | Lusaka, Zambia

      17 December 2003 11:18

      Six people have died from cholera and another 165 are reported to be in a serious condition as the disease sweeps through Zambia's capital, Lusaka.

      It appears that local authorities have been caught flat-footed by the outbreak. They are now engaged in a frantic bid to contain the disease, which is transmitted through contaminated water and food. Cholera typically occurs in Zambia during the country's rainy season.

      The city council of Lusaka is scouting for extra garbage collection trucks. It is also making urgent appeals to members of the public to assist it in clearing drains and burying rubbish in high-density parts of the capital where cholera has hit.

      Lusaka mayor John Kabungo says the council only has two trucks at its disposal, and cannot regularly collect garbage in the city of 1,5-million people: "We need the private sector to come in and help us clear up. We need at least five or six more trucks."

      The public has responded by accusing the council of a lack of foresight.

      According to the director of technical services at the Central Board of Health, Victor Mukonka, cholera outbreaks never come as a surprise. On the contrary, they're quite predictable.

      "Cholera comes in waves, every two to three years, so it is not like the council did not know that an outbreak was imminent," says Mukonka. "It should have started a warning and public awareness campaign early on. It was not proactive and now we have this emerging crisis," he adds.

      Davis Banda, who is nursing a cholera patient, agrees: "There is no excuse. We know that the rains bring cholera, and this time even the rains were on our side -- they started late. It was if the rains were waiting for us to get our act together, but we were still caught unawares."

      Council public relations officer Peter Kashiwa refuses to accept all responsibility for the crisis.

      "People should stop blaming the council for its failure to remove garbage and learn to keep their surroundings clean," he says.

      "Yes, we all know the rains are coming and the threat of cholera is present. But the council can only do so much with its meagre resources. Should people really wait for the council to tell them to keep their surroundings clean?" he asks.

      Kashiwa says another reason cholera breaks out in high-density areas is that some of these have not been designated as residential zones by the local authorities, and are therefore not serviced with proper drainage systems and clean water.

      But the MP for one of these areas, Henry Mtonga, says his constituency -- Kanyama -- is recognised by the council, but still not serviced. Kanyama has been hit hard by the cholera outbreak.

      "I have been asking for another borehole to supplement the two we have the in area, to no avail. Now the entire water system is contaminated. The rains have caused seepage from toilets, ablution blocks and solid-waste dumps into the drinking water," says Mtonga.

      "Instead of looking for excuses the council should admit it has not picked up the slack, and get their house in order," he adds.

      When tackled on this point, Kashiwe concedes that the council failed to do its job in Kanyama. But he maintains Lusaka residents should not wait for local authorities to collect garbage when matters get out of hand.

      Cholera has also affected police stations and prisons. Authorities at two jails in Lusaka have been forced to quarantine inmates, suspend visits and halt deliveries of food for the time being.

      The measures stem from a well-founded fear of the ease with which cholera could spread in the over-crowded jails. One institution built to house 260 inmates currently accommodates 1 339 people.

      "We have four inmates with cholera. We have to quarantine them because you can imagine how it will spread in a congested place," says a prison warder.

      However, most prisoners rely on meals brought in from their relatives, as the once-a-day prison ration of nshima (porridge) and beans is inadequate.

      "It will be difficult to enforce this measure and I am very scared of what is coming," says the warder.

      The last time Zambia had a serious cholera outbreak was in 1992 when more than 500 people died in the central Copperbelt province, and had to be buried in a mass grave. Last year there were six deaths in the remote area of Sinazongwe, in southern Zambia.

      Health experts agree that preventing cholera is a fairly straightforward matter of maintaining basic standards of hygiene. However, this has proved difficult in Zambia where 42% of the 10,5-million population does not have access to clean drinking water, and lacks adequate sanitation facilities.

      "The starting point should be getting the town cleaned up and getting the water and sanitation people to ensure that everyone has access to clean and safe drinking water and proper sewer systems," says Mukonka.

      "It also means sensitising the people [to] the need to keep their surroundings clean, with garbage disposed [of] all the time."

      He says the council should observe the Public Health Act more strictly, to clear the streets of vendors. At present, these traders sell everything from fresh meat and fish to ripe fruit -- the remainders of which lie strewn across the street when they leave. The Act also allows the licences of restaurants and other food providers to be revoked if these places do not adhere to hygiene standards.

      "We have so many epidemic emergencies to deal with, [that] cholera should not feature anywhere," says Mukonka. "It is an unnecessary waste of time and resources because it is easily preventable." -- IPS


      German MP in secret talks with Zim opposition

      Johannesburg, South Africa

      17 December 2003 16:36

      Germany's deputy opposition leader in parliament, Christian Democrat Arnold Vaatz, met with members of the Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Zimbabwe on Wednesday.

      Following secret talks with MDC chief Morgan Tsvangirai and Pius Ncube, the Bishop of Bulawayo, Vaatz criticised South Africa for acting as an advocate for Zimbabwe's controversial President Robert Mugabe during the recent Commonwealth summit in Nigeria.

      The German politician entered Zimbabwe on a tourist visa.

      Following the Nigerian summit, Western diplomats had expressed shock at South African President Thabo Mbeki's defence of Mugabe's government, which has been internationally criticised for repressing the opposition and bringing economic ruin to the country.

      Vaatz urged Germany's Social Democratic chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, to use his upcoming visit to South Africa -- scheduled for January 21 to 23 -- to point out to Mbeki that his stance towards Zimbabwe will have negative consequences.

      The German parliamentarian said a meeting by Schroeder with MDC representatives could send a clear signal in the region.

      "The impression that South Africa poses as a kind of protective power for this regime will have immense consequences for the reputation of the country [South Africa] and will certainly also impact on German investments," Vaatz said.

      "It has to be expected from a country like South Africa that it distances itself from machinations such as those of Zimbabwe," he added. -- Sapa-DPA


      Zim government to seize farming equipment

      Harare, Zimbabwe

      17 December 2003 15:53

      In its latest clampdown on civil liberties, Zimbabwe's government announced plans on Wednesday to seize tractors and other equipment from white farmers thrown off their properties under President Robert Mugabe's farm seizure programme.

      Owners selling, damaging or immobilising their machinery face a fine or up to two years in jail, said the presidential decree, published in an official notice.

      "It's suddenly a crime to have a piece of equipment you cannot use because you have been forced off your farm," said John Worsely-Worswick, head of the Justice for Agriculture farmers' organisation.

      The decree empowers the Agriculture Ministry and its representatives to "enter any land or premises to ascertain whether there is any farm equipment or materials not being used for agricultural purposes".

      Mugabe has said the farm seizures, which began in this Southern African nation three years ago, were an effort to correct colonial-era injustices that gave about 4 000 whites about one-third of the country's productive land in a country of more than 12-million people.

      The notice said farmers could claim compensation for all property ceded to the state. Worsely-Worswick said despite its promises the government has failed to pay compensation for seized land and owners are skeptical about payment for confiscated equipment.

      He said many displaced farmers have stored their equipment in hopes of returning to their farms or selling it to survive.

      "This is daylight robbery. It is vindictive and intimidatory. Mugabe is keen we give up altogether and pack and go," he said, arguing that the presidential order violates constitutional rights of ownership.

      The Commercial Farmers Union, representing a few hundred white farmers still on their land, said its lawyers are studying the decree.

      Vehicles, tractors and other equipment farmers took from their properties have been kept in warehouses, storage lots or auction houses.

      The often-violent farm seizures, along with erratic rains, have been blamed for crippling Zimbabwe's agriculture-based economy, leading to record inflation and unemployment and acute shortages of food, gasoline and essential goods.

      The independent Famine Early Warning Systems Network estimated earlier this month that as many as six million people, including about one million urban residents, will need food aid in the first three months of next year. -- Sapa-AP


      Zimbabwe's inflation hits record

      Zimbabwe's inflation rate has rocketed to record levels, driven by increases in the cost of food and fuel.
      According to government statistics, prices rose year-on-year by 619.5% in November, up from 525.8% the previous month.

      The actual rate of inflation may be even higher, economists say, as the official figures do not take into account black market prices.

      The central bank said it would announce measures on Thursday aimed at averting an economic crisis.

      Shrinking economy

      According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Zimbabwe's economy has shrunk by about 40% in the past four years.

      About two thirds of the population face food shortages, and the country suffers from one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS infection in the world.
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