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  • Christine Chumbler
    Oct 8, 2004
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      Anti-Tobacco Lobby Affects Malawi

      The Post (Lusaka)

      October 7, 2004
      Posted to the web October 7, 2004

      Masuzyo Chakwe
      Lusaka

      MALAWI's economy has greatly been affected because the International
      Anti-Tobacco Lobby is calling for a reduction of tobacco exportation
      which is Malawi's main cash crop, acting Malawian High Commissioner
      Protasii Kanyengambeta has said.

      Kanyengambeta said Malawi was losing a lot of income through tobacco
      because the international Anti-Tobacco Lobby was very cautious about how
      much tobacco can be exported.

      He said this has been a problem because there had been a lot of talk on
      reducing on advertising because tobacco causes cancer and the
      international market was very cautious on how much tobacco could be
      bought.

      He said Malawi greatly depended on tobacco and this had led to loss of
      revenue but the Malawian government was trying to find supplements for
      tobacco.

      "We have started growing tea, sugar, cassava and cotton. Malawi's
      economy solely depends on agriculture and we live at the mercy of
      nature, when the weather is kind we are happy, when the weather is bad
      we get worried," he said.

      Kanyengambeta said the Malawian government was trying to add value to
      the tobacco industry by starting to process it at home.

      "The fact that Malawi does not process the tobacco has made it
      difficult because we just grow and export and the content of the tobacco
      is much stronger and this is what has brought a lot of controversy from
      the lobby," he said.

      Kanyengabeta said the pricing had also been affected because Zambia,
      Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Tanzania had also started growing tobacco and
      this had led to loss of revenue on Malawi's part.

      He also said Malawi whose economy is agricultural based had not been
      able to produce enough food because of the drought and had made the
      country import maize from Zambia.

      Kanyengambeta said the political situation in Malawi was very healthy
      where they had four opposition political parties working with the
      government.

      "They have formed a coalition with government and they have opposition
      members as ministers in government," he said.


      *****

      The new betrayal

      Godwin Gandu

      07 October 2004 08:59


      Vicious cycle: Farm settlers protest around a fire started by the
      Zimbabwean police during an eviction. (Photograph: DZK Images)
      Zanu-PF bigwigs are at loggerheads over the eviction of more than 400
      families, including war veterans, from 22 farms they occupied during the
      land grabs that accompanied Zimbabwe's last parliamentary elections.

      The evictions are taking place under the command of deputy police
      commissioner Godwin Matanga. Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena said
      the people "illegally settled themselves" on the farms and the
      government was now "regularising the land reform".

      "It's an insult to 14-million Zimbabweans," said war veterans
      leader Jabulani Sibanda. "Top government officials own more than one
      farm. Why target people sharing a farm? That logic alone is an insult.
      These are simply people who moved from dry land where they were settled
      by Rhodesians to where the new Zimbabwe laws enabled them to exist,"
      said Sibanda.

      The war veterans are furious that the "settlers" have been evicted
      without notice and have urged President Robert Mugabe to put a stop to
      it.

      Writing in the state-run Sunday Mail Lowani Ndlovu, widely believed to
      be the pseudonym of Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, described the
      evictions as a "violation of government policy".

      "They raise more legal policy questions than they provide answers ...
      They have been callous and unlawful. It smacks of the Rhodesian premier
      Ian Smith's eviction of blacks. The wrong way of doing the right thing
      is not just unacceptable, but also dangerous," Ndlovu fumed.

      But Land Reform Minister John Nkomo is adamant that the move is in line
      with guidelines and procedures of a commission set up to investigate
      progress on land reform. He said Mugabe had appointed 12 people to
      conduct a land audit in May, which produced the Utete report detailing
      irregularities in land redistribution and its impact on commercial
      farmers and workers.

      Constitutional law lecturer Dr Lovemore Madhuku doubts that proper
      legal process was followed. "It shows Zanu-PF is confused. It is a
      momentary lapse of strategy."

      Without food and shelter, the settlers have resorted to squatting in
      the open veld along the Harare-Kariba highway where they are at the
      mercy of the rain and chilly evening temperatures.

      Burnt-out huts, broken pots, empty cattle pens and deserted fields are
      all that are left at Inkomo farm about 50km northwest of Harare and it
      is about 60km from Raffingora farm recently allocated to Harare mayor
      Sekesai Makwavarara after she defected from the Movement for Democratic
      Change.

      When the Mail & Guardian visited the settlers temporary home one woman
      could not hold back her tears as she explained that all they wanted now
      was food. Another elderly woman was pounding maize and praying that the
      rains wouldn't destroy the little they had left.

      Rumour has it that a top government official was moving in with his
      cattle.

      Another farm dweller, Wilbert Chimbudzi, believed the settlers had been
      "stabbed in the back". His two huts were torched leaving his family
      vulnerable. "We have been left with nothing. Nothing," he said.
      "We were never given time to prepare. It was so inhumane and we
      don't know why we are being made to suffer when in the first place it
      was the government that encouraged us to invade farms."


      *****

      New draft poll Bill for Zim

      Harare

      07 October 2004 12:59

      advertisementThe Zimbabwe government has approved a draft Bill to
      "overhaul" the country's widely criticised election laws and provide for
      the establishment of a tribunal to settle poll disputes, a state-run
      daily said on Thursday.

      The Herald said the move was "in accordance with the letter and spirit"
      of southern African regional principles and guidelines for democratic
      and free polls.

      The proposed law "incorporates several ways of removing voting
      bottlenecks", the paper said.

      Apart from setting up an electoral court -- which would not have
      jurisdiction over criminal cases -- the proposed law will establish a
      separate registrar of voters and end mobile polling stations, currently
      used in remote areas.

      The Bill is the second set of proposed poll regulations introduced by
      the government of President Robert Mugabe in a month, and ahead of
      national elections due in March.

      On September 10 the government officially published the Zimbabwe
      Electoral Commissions (ZEC) Bill, which went through its first reading
      in parliament on Wednesday.

      If enacted, the Bill will give Mugabe powers to appoint key members of
      an "independent" commission to oversee all elections and referendums,
      beginning with legislative polls due in March.

      The country's civic groups have complained about a lack of safeguards
      to ensure the independence of the election commission and fear it might
      be biased.

      Last week, the groups told a parliamentary committee that they were
      also worried that the ZEC did not adequately address issues relating to
      electoral violence and conflict resolution.

      The electoral court, proposed under the Electoral Bill, will have
      limited jurisdiction and only "hear and determine election petitions and
      other matters and shall be a court of record", The Herald said.

      "It will, however, have no jurisdiction to try any criminal case," it
      added.

      Scores of people were killed in the run up to the country's 2000
      parliamentary elections.

      The 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC), of which
      Zimbabwe is a member, has meanwhile adopted a charter to ensure free,
      fair and peaceful elections in all its member states.

      The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party says these
      conditions do not exist in Zimbabwe but the country's Information
      Minister Jonathan Moyo has said that Harare is not bound to stick to the
      SADC guidelines because they are not law.

      The MDC has threatened to boycott the polls until all the SADC
      guidelines have been implemented. - Sapa-AFP

      *****

      Zimbabweans protest against new laws

      Harare

      07 October 2004 12:59

      advertisementAbout 200 anti-government activists in Harare demonstrated
      on Thursday against a barrage of repressive Bills that were introduced
      into the Zimbabwean legislature.

      Early morning commuters looked on as members of the National
      Constitutional Assembly, pressing for a democratic constitution, marched
      through the city centre strewing thousands of leaflets condemning
      planned laws that threaten the existence of the vigorous civil liberties
      lobby.

      Only two people were arrested as the demonstrators were dispersing,
      said NCA chairman Lovemore Madhuku. Police were caught by surprise, "We
      were too early for them," he said. The government has effectively banned
      public protests and usually meets them with violent baton charges,
      teargas and arrests.

      Also on Thursday, 47 women who have been in police detention since
      Tuesday after demonstrating against the Non-Governmental Organisations
      Bill, were expected to face a court later.

      The controversial NGO Bill and the Electoral Bill which reinforces the
      government's control of elections and a third Bill tightening state
      controls on the press were tabled in parliament on Wednesday.

      The legislature, dominated by Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party, was
      adjourned until next Tuesday to allow the parliamentary legal watchdog
      to scrutinise the Bills for contraventions of constitutional rights.
      Lawyers say the parliamentary committee can only briefly delay laws that
      violate human rights.

      The NGO Bill and the electoral Bill are considered Mugabe's strategy of
      securing victory in parliamentary elections next March.

      The electoral Bill is meant to establish an independent election
      commission to administer elections, but critics noted that the body is
      effectively appointed by Mugabe himself.

      On Wednesday in parliament, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said the
      opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would not have access to
      the state-controlled media during the run-up to the elections. The
      regime controls all radio and television stations and daily newspapers.

      "If you are an al-Qaeda, you cannot be expected to be given access to
      the public media," he said, adding, "You cannot expect the MDC to be
      given the right to say Mugabe must go in the public media."

      In July, Mugabe signed a regional Southern African treaty which commits
      all members to hold democratic elections, but the MDC says the Harare
      regime has no intention of fulfilling its obligations.

      The government has been forced to appear as if it is complying, said
      MDC legal spokesman David Coltart. In fact, there is no compliance.

      The 14-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) principles
      on democratic elections demand political tolerance, a conducive
      environment, freedom of association and freedom of expression.

      During questioning in parliament on Wednesday, Chinamasa told MDC MPs
      that the SADC treaty was not a binding law, but simply a guideline.

      The MDC says it will not participate in the election until the
      government meets the SADC principles in full by abolishing state
      security legislation under which opponents are still arrested and
      lifting controls on the independent press.

      More than 300 people, nearly all opposition supporters, were murdered
      during elections in 2000 and 2002, and thousands have been arrested,
      tortured, assaulted and driven from their homes.

      After the 2002 presidential elections, the Commonwealth said Mugabe's
      victory was the result of fraud and bloody intimidation and suspended
      Zimbabwe. - Sapa-DPA

      *****

      Zimbabwe MPs in travel scam

      Itai Dzamara | Harare

      08 October 2004 08:37

      advertisementMembers of Parliament who represent constituencies outside
      Harare are raking in millions of Zimbabwean dollars monthly from
      transport and accommodation allowances despite staying in the capital
      most of the time they are attending parliamentary sessions,
      investigations by the Zimbabwe Independent have revealed.

      In what could turn out to be a scandal to rival one that erupted in
      South Africa in July, it emerged that MPs use the out-of-town allowances
      facility as a cash cow on a bad day.

      It has surfaced that a lax system at Parliament allows MPs to pocket
      huge sums of money monthly in transport claims. There is no mechanism of
      verifying whether an MP really travelled the claimed distances every
      time he attends parliamentary business.

      MPs are paid Z$2,1-million per month while governors get Z$2,8-million.
      Ministers are paid Z$3-million while the vice-president's salary is
      Z$3,5-million.

      Legislators however claim millions of dollars in travel allowances. The
      Independent this week established that MPs from Matabeleland get
      Z$25-million monthly in transport and accommodation allowances. MPs are
      also paid Z$180 000 per night if they stay with relatives or friends.

      The clerk of Parliament, Austin Zvoma, this week said their system only
      verifies whether an MP attended sittings or committee meetings to
      approve an allocation for transport. He said they also checked the
      mileage on MP's vehicle to ascertain whether it tallies with the claim
      submitted and the parliamentary business attended.

      "It is not our responsibility to follow the MP to establish whether he
      has indeed travelled from the address submitted," Zvoma said.

      "We check the register and confirm whether the member was present in
      the House as claimed or whether they attended a committee meeting. We
      could only confirm whether they travelled from, say, Zvishavane to
      Harare by stationing someone there, who would follow them all the way.
      The accounts department checks MPs' vehicles' mileage to confirm whether
      they have recorded the required distance."

      When a member is sworn in, he submits an address which is taken as
      their permanent residence. It is these addresses that Parliament uses
      when the MPs claim transport allowances. Investigations by the Zimbabwe
      Independent revealed that a majority of MPs who represent constituencies
      outside Harare submitted addresses in their constituencies and claim
      transport allowances based on that.

      Figures obtained from Zvoma show that transport allowances vary
      depending on the size of the MPs' vehicle engine. However, most of the
      MPs' vehicles -- secured through a government loan scheme -- have engine
      capacities of 3 000 cubic centimetres, which is the highest level. The
      allowance for the highest level is Z$11 125 per km for petrol and Z$11
      029,82 for diesel.

      For a trip from Bulawayo to Harare, a distance of 440km, the allowance
      for a petrol vehicle would be Z$4,8-million. The same amount is
      allocated for the return trip. A return ticket to Bulawayo by Air
      Zimbabwe costs Z$774 000.

      A claim for a trip from Masvingo to Harare, which is 298km, using a
      petrol vehicle, earns the legislator Z$3,3-million multiplied by two for
      the return journey.

      During parliamentary sessions, MPs are usually required to attend
      weekly. MPs from outside the capital claim that they go to their
      constituencies every weekend. This means an MP can make four claims a
      month, which translates to Z$38,4-million for an MP based in Bulawayo.

      Parliament pays accommodation allowances straight to three-star hotels.


      Sources said there had been complaints by the Ministry of Finance over
      the expenses incurred by Parliament, especially on transport allowances,
      which they say gobble the largest chunk of Parliament's annual budget.

      But Zvoma said: "We haven't had any investigated or verified cases of
      the abuse of the system."

      All that is required to obtain the accommodation allowance is
      confirmation that an MP attended parliamentary business. In the case of
      hotels, it has to be confirmed that the MP stayed at a particular hotel,
      to which the money is paid directly. - Zimbabwe Independent

      *****

      Kenyan ecologist wins Nobel prize

      Kenyan environmentalist and human rights campaigner Wangari Maathai has
      won the Nobel Peace Prize.
      She is the first African woman to be awarded the peace prize since it
      was created in 1901.

      A surprised Mrs Maathai broke the news to reporters minutes before the
      official announcement.

      The prize committee says Mrs Maathai, Kenya's deputy environment
      minister, is an example for all Africans fighting for democracy and
      peace.

      The delighted 64-year-old professor said the award was completely
      unexpected.

      "This is extremely encouraging to the people of Africa and the African
      woman," she told the BBC.

      "It is a recognition of the many efforts of African women, who continue
      to struggle despite all the problems they face."

      Social science

      In the late 1970s Mrs Maathai led a campaign called the "Green Belt
      Movement" to plant tens of millions of trees across Africa to slow
      deforestation.

      The movement grew to include projects to preserve biodiversity, educate
      people about their environment and promote the rights of women and
      girls.

      Mrs Maathai said she was delighted that the vital role of the
      environment had been recognised.

      "The environment is very important in the aspects of peace because when
      we destroy our resources and our resources become scarce, we fight over
      that".

      "I am working to make sure we don't only protect the environment, we
      also improve governance," she added.

      The committee says she has combined science with social engagement and
      politics and has worked both locally and internationally.

      'Honoured'

      The professor was the 12th woman peace laureate since the first award
      was first made in 1901.

      A spokesman for the Kenyan government said his country was honoured.

      "This is a great moment in Kenyan history. To us this shows that what
      Wangari Maathai has been doing here has been recognized," Alfred Mutua
      said.

      "We're very proud of her and she deserves all the credit."

      Mrs Maathai beat a record 194 nominations, including former Chief UN
      weapons inspector Hans Blix and head of the UN energy watchdog, Mohamed
      ElBaradei, to win the prize.

      Mrs Maathai is the second woman in a row to be awarded the peace prize
      which last year went to Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi, for her work for
      the rights of women and children in Iran.

      The award, which includes 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.3m) is awarded
      in Oslo on 10 December each year.

      Africa's peace laureates

      2004 - Wangari Maathai, Kenya
      2001- Kofi Annan, Ghana
      1993 - Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk, South Africa
      1984 - Desmond Tutu, South Africa
      1960 - Albert John Lutuli, South Africa
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