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  • Christine Chumbler
    Dec 31, 2003
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      Malawi Scraps Duty Free Entry On Local Products

      The Herald (Harare)

      December 30, 2003
      Posted to the web December 30, 2003

      Harare

      MALAWI has revoked provisions of a bilateral trade agreement with Zimbabwe allowing duty free entry of goods and will now charge a 20 percent excise duty on local products entering its market.

      The Ministry of Industry and International Trade, said in a statement yesterday it was notified of the move by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa early this month.


      "Exporters with goods destined for Malawi should take note of this change, so that they are not unduly surprised when their goods land into that country," the ministry said.

      "The ministry is in communication with Comesa on the subject matter and will soon make another statement once additional information and the list of the other products have been provided."

      The ministry said one of the goods on which the 20 percent excise duty would be charged was cooking oil.

      The move by Malawi is contrary to provisions of Comesa that allow reciprocal duty free entry of goods in member countries.

      Comesa launched its free trade area in 2000 that was expected to be fully attained next year to make it easier for trade among member countries.

      Some of the countries that have joined the Free Trade Area include Djibouti, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Sudan and Zambia.

      Malawi and Zambia have been complaining that Zimbabwean businesspeople were dumping cheap goods on their markets, pushing their local people out of business.

      Apart from the Comesa arrangement, Zimbabwean companies have been enjoying provisions of a bilateral agreement signed with Malawi in 1995 under which they exported goods duty free to that country.

      The agreement was amended in 2000, but still retained the element of allowing reciprocal exportation of duty free goods provided there was at least 25 percent local content.

      Trade imbalance that was titled in favour of Zimbabwe had been a major concern to the Malawian business community.

      Malawi has been one of Zimbabwe's major export markets in the region apart from South Africa because of the trade agreement that accorded preferential status to local goods destined for that country.

      Trade between the two countries dates back to 1986 when the first preferential agreement was signed to improve trade and enhance market access for respective products.


      *****

      Even elephants flee the Mugabe regime

      29 December 2003 08:13


      Hundreds of wild elephants are the latest refugees from violence and disorder in Robert Mugabe's crisis-torn Zimbabwe. The animals are fleeing the country by wading across the Zambezi river to escape being shot or trapped by so-called "war veterans" and illegal hunters.

      Game wardens in Zambia say record numbers of elephants are crossing the Zambezi, which forms the border between the two countries, to avoid being poached by armed gangs in Zimbabwe.

      "Elephants are quite intelligent and can communicate. They know they are safer on this side of the river," said one game warden.

      The exodus is an indication of the devastation facing wildlife in Zimbabwe, where animals are said to be at risk of indiscriminate slaughter in reserves and former privately owned game parks.

      With the breakdown of law and order, animals of all kinds are reportedly being poached on a massive scale for ivory and even for food.

      At Mosi-o-Tunya National Park, on the Zambian side of the Zambezi river near Victoria Falls, elephants are crossing the river daily. Wildlife experts say the movement is much larger than the normal seasonal emigration and is causing a serious problem for Zambian authorities. There are so many elephants trapped in a small area that serious damage is being caused to the environment.

      About 200 elephants are thought to be living in the small national park, close to the city of Livingstone, an area more used to a population of about 50. The elephants are stripping the bush of foliage and knocking down trees, and there are conflicts between the wild elephants and farmers. Elephants killed two local villagers in the park this year.

      Marianthy Noble, Zambia representative of the United Kingdom-based David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, said: "Lawlessness in Zimbabwe is definitely a factor in driving more elephants into Zambia and causing a problem here. If an elephant is shot, others will leave the area for safety. Elephants can communicate over up to seven miles [11,2km] -- and they never forget.

      "Until recently Zimbabwe had an excellent record for wildlife conservation and some of the best game parks in the world. But with land redistribution, some of the best game parks have been settled or invaded by people with no experience of wildlife management at all. Game is being systematically wiped out by local people shooting and setting snares. It's lawlessness."

      According to reports, game hunters from South Africa are taking advantage of the breakdown in law and order to buy hunting licences in the former conservancies, allowing them to shoot anything that moves. In other cases, villagers are reported to be killing wildlife "for fun".

      Zimbabweans living on the Zambia side of the border are cagey about discussing wildlife in Zimbabwe for fear of repercussions for relatives and business associates still inside the country. However, Andy, a white Zimbabwean working for a Zambia safari lodge, said: "Everybody knows there is illegal hunting in Zimbabwe on a massive scale. Wildlife is being wiped out. That is why the elephants are coming across.

      "In some areas, there are so many snares set that animals caught in them are just being left to rot. National parks are issuing illegal hunting licences without knowing how much game there is."

      Another safari lodge employee near Victoria Falls said: "There are certainly more elephants arriving. From time to time, we have heard shooting at night from the Zimbabwe side. There is only one explanation -- poaching."

      The head of the Zambian Wildlife Authority (Zawa), Hapenga Kabeta, said he has been assured that Zimbabwean wildlife authorities are implementing "appropriate wildlife management" and providing good leadership in conservation issues. He blamed the exodus on drought and overpopulation.

      He said reports on the internet that up to 80% of Zimbabwe's wild elephants have been slaughtered are without foundation. However, he acknowledged there may be a problem on Zimbabwe's private game parks, where land redistribution means new owners "may not have the skills" and wildlife could be at risk.

      Experts acknowledge that the influx of elephants into the tiny Mosi-o-Tunya park presents a problem for Zambian authorities. The park is hemmed in by houses and farms and smallholders have blamed the elephants for damage to fruit trees and property.

      Simasiku Pumulo, who farms 200 hectares of maize, millet, vegetables and fruit in the Sinde cooperative on the edge of Livingstone, said wild elephants regularly visited his land to eat what they could find.

      "Sometimes they come at night and break down the trees just across from the front door. It is terrifying, you cannot go out," he said.

      "The elephants destroy the maize and dig up vegetables ... If you plant five acres of maize, the elephants usually eat four of them. To put so much work into growing food for the elephants is very annoying -- I believe they should be culled."

      Park authorities are considering how to solve the problem without resorting to a cull, which would be unpopular with wildlife experts and tourists. Under present Zambian law, elephants cannot be shot -- although the government will reintroduce hunting next year.

      One possible solution is to open up an elephant "corridor" to encourage the animals to migrate almost 200km north to a larger national park at Kafue, where elephants are in short supply. -- Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003

      *****

      Zimbabwe 'repossesses' black land


      About 400 farms distributed to black Zimbabweans under the controversial land reform exercise have been repossessed, a state newspaper says.
      The farms had been taken by people who already owned land and would be given to "deserving people", a minister says.

      Critics say the seizure of white-owned farms has ruined Zimbabwe's economy and been tainted by corruption.

      President Robert Mugabe says he is righting a colonial wrong and blames drought for Zimbabwe's food crisis.

      'Significant progress'

      But in July, he admitted that top officials had been given more than one farm in contravention of the "One man, one farm" policy and ordered them to return the additional properties.

      The Herald newspaper did not name those whose farms, covering 200,000 hectares (494,000 acres), had been repossessed.

      "We have made significant progress and the land recovered would now be available for redistribution to deserving people," it quoted John Nkomo, Special Affairs Minister and head of the land reform implementation committee, as saying.

      Just 600 of the 4,000 white farmers in 2000 remain on their land after the often violent land seizures, farming officials say.

      Before the land reform programme was speeded up three years ago, white farmers owned 70% of Zimbabwe's best land.
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