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  • Christine Chumbler
    Apr 23, 2004
      Malawi: Battle Over the Airwaves Goes to Court

      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

      April 22, 2004
      Posted to the web April 22, 2004


      The opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has taken legal action against the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and Television Malawi (TVM) for allegedly biased coverage of election campaigning.

      NDA attorney Ralph Kasambara said his client was seeking redress for the alleged blackout of opposition parties by the public broadcasters.

      "I am only hoping that the court will direct the two public media institutions to comply with the Parliamentary and Presidential Act [on free and fair elections]," said Kasambara. The NDA is also asking the courts to rule that all competing parties have fair access to public broadcasters.

      NDA spokesperson Salule Masangwi said the party had resorted to court action, as "the ruling party has an advantage over us because of [coverage by] the two media houses".

      Deputy director-general of the MBC, Eunice Chipangula, was quoted by Capital Radio FM as saying that coverage of political parties was based on the number of MPs each party had in the national assembly.

      "This is how we learned from South Africa when we went there to learn about political reporting," said Chipangula.

      This assertion is being challenged by the NDA, whose presidential candidate, Brown Mpinganjira, was previously the minister of information in the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) government.

      Parliament was dissolved last month and there are currently no MPs in the house, argued the NDA.

      According to documents filed in the courts, the NDA also wants the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) to adhere to the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections laws, as the MEC is also facing accusations of bias toward the ruling party.

      The court is to hear the NDA's application on 3 to 4 May.


      Mozambique battles malaria

      Maputo, Mozambique

      23 April 2004 13:55

      Mozambique said on Friday it is stepping up a prevention campaign against malaria, the country's third-biggest killer after cholera and Aids, by encouraging the use of mosquito nets and looking at new treatments.

      Malaria, caused by a parasite carried by the Anopheles mosquito, killed 3 200 people in Mozambique last year out of a total of 4,5-million cases, the Health Ministry said in a statement, two days ahead of Africa Malaria Day.

      The worst affected area is the northern Nampula region with 627 fatalities, followed by the southern Maputo province with 471 deaths, said the statement.

      Authorities have been encouraging the use of mosquito nets and are trying to raise public awareness among children, who are the most affected along with pregnant women.

      "We think that by educating children we will be securing successes in the struggle against malaria," National Director of Health Alexandre Manguel said.

      The Health Ministry is also planning to introduce a new line of antimalarial drugs to replace chloroquine, to which the parasite carried by the mosquitoes has grown resistant in recent years.

      Mozambique is also battling an outbreak of cholera that has claimed 100 lives this year out of about 20 000 reported cases, according to official statistics.

      The majority of cholera cases have been reported in the capital, Maputo, and the central city of Beira, where about 50 000 people were earlier this year vaccinated on an experimental basis.

      The Health Ministry is also awaiting the results next month of trials on an orally administered vaccine for cholera.

      HIV/Aids has been another health plague but authorities have not published any figures of the number of deaths from the disease.

      Mozambique, with a population of more than 17-million, has an adult HIV prevalence rate of 16% with about 700 new infections daily. -- Sapa-AFP
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