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  • Christine Chumbler
    Mar 31, 2005
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      DPP Wants Misa to Discipline Journalists

      Media Institute of Southern Africa (Windhoek)

      March 24, 2005
      Posted to the web March 30, 2005

      Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Ishmael Wadi said on March 23
      2005, that government would be compelled to prosecute two journalists
      arrested over the ghost story if they are not disciplined.

      Wadi said he would give the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) -
      Malawi chapter, also known as the National Media Institute of Southern
      Africa (Namisa), a reasonable period to take action against Mabvuto
      Banda of "The Nation" and Raphael Tenthani of BBC.

      However, Namisa chairperson Lewis Msasa said there was no way the two
      journalists would be disciplined when there was evidence that they
      talked to the presidential aide on religious affairs, Malani Mtonga.

      The top government prosecutor said he had not yet decided to drag the
      matter to court but observed that there was need to amend the police
      charge. "I expect the media body to communicate to me on the
      disciplinary action they are going to take. That I will appreciate,
      because if we take each and every case to court, we may flood the
      courts," he said.

      Wadi was, however, quick to point out that: "I will be compelled to
      take the matter to court. But of course, this matter can best be
      addressed at an institutional level, so I expect MISA Malawi to come to
      me on that one.

      On the charges levelled against the journalists, the DPP said there
      were several elements in the police charge of publishing false news
      likely to cause public alarm, which could not be easily proved. He added
      however that he was considering to amend the charge to 'publishing an
      article calculated to disrespect the high office of the president
      contrary to Section 4 of the Protected Flags, Emblems and Names Act,
      Chapter 1803 of the Laws of Malawi'. But some commentators observed that
      the Act was outdated since it was in conflict with the Constitution and
      does not comply with the democratic dispensation.

      Msasa said much as the organisation appreciated government's gesture on
      the matter, it could not apologise on behalf of the journalists when
      there was evidence. Therefore he felt that the matter should be decided
      in court.


      The two scribes, who were arrested on March 15 2005, are currently on
      police bail and also appeared before the Parliamentary Media and
      Communications Committee.

      Another journalist, Horace Nyaka, who works at the Vice- President
      Cassim Chilumpha's press office, was also arrested as an accomplice. He
      was released unconditionally.

      The committee first heard from Mtonga who complained to police that
      although the two journalists quoted him in their respective stories, he
      did not talk to them. In the story, Mtonga was quoted as saying
      religious leaders would gather at the New State House to pray for
      President Bingu wa Mutharika who was being haunted by evil spirits.

      Opposition parties, human rights organisations and the civil society
      condemned the arrests, saying they were meant to instill fear in the

      In the absence of a functioning media council or similar regulatory
      body, MISA Malawi has often assumed the role of a mediator between
      government, the media and general public.


      Zim voters queue to cast ballots

      Harare, Zimbabwe

      31 March 2005 08:28

      Zimbabweans waited in long lines on Thursday to cast ballots in
      parliamentary elections that President Robert Mugabe hopes will prove
      once and for all the legitimacy of a regime critics say is increasingly
      isolated and repressive.

      Before any ballots were cast, opposition leaders and independent rights
      groups said the vote was already skewed by years of violence and

      Despite a light rain, residents in the capital, Harare, started
      gathering at the polls up to three hours before they opened. There were
      some delays as electoral officials completed last-minute preparations
      under the watchful eye of police.

      Mugabe accuses British Prime Minister Tony Blair and other Western
      leaders of backing the six-year-old Movement for Democratic Change
      (MDC), the first party to challenge his rule seriously. He dubbed
      Thursday's vote the "anti-Blair election", and MDC supporters

      "My vote today will be a vote for Zimbabwe's sovereignty," said Thomas
      Mseruka, a 46-year-old carpenter and ardent government supporter. "I'll
      be voting to defend our country."

      "I wanted to be the first in the queue, to be served early," said
      Beauty Chigutiare. "We need change. We want jobs, we want good houses."

      The opposition counters that British Prime Minister Tony Blair isn't
      running in Thursday's poll, which it says is about Mugabe's own failings
      after nearly 25 years in power.

      Zimbabwe's economy has shrunk by 50% over the past five years.
      Unemployment is at least 70%. Agriculture -- the economic base of
      Zimbabwe -- has collapsed and at least 70% of the population lives in

      Opposition leaders blame the country's economic woes on the
      government's often-violent seizure of thousands of white-owned
      commercial farms for redistribution to black Zimbabweans.

      Mugabe defends the programme as a way of righting racial imbalances in
      land ownership inherited from British colonial rule, and blames food
      shortages on years of crippling drought.

      At stake on Thursday are 120 elected parliamentary seats. Mugabe
      appoints another 30 seats, virtually guaranteeing his Zanu-PF party a

      About 5,8-million of Zimbabwe's nearly 12-million people are registered
      to vote. But up to 3,4-million Zimbabweans who live overseas -- many of
      whom are believed to be opposition supporters -- have been barred from
      casting ballots.

      The opposition MDC won 57 seats in the last parliamentary election in
      2000, despite what Western observers called widespread violence,
      intimidation and vote rigging. But it has lost six seats in subsequent

      In 2002, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai narrowly lost an equally flawed
      presidential poll.

      While there has been much less violence during this campaign,
      opposition leaders and rights groups said intimidation remained high.
      Residents in drought-stricken rural areas were told they could forfeit
      desperately needed food aid if they voted for the opposition, they

      A series of repressive laws introduced since 2000 drastically curtailed
      the opposition's ability to meet, express its views and access the
      media. While restrictions eased in recent weeks to allow campaigning by
      all sides, rights groups said the damage was already done.

      Mugabe's government hand-picked election observers, barring groups that
      were critical of previous polls.

      Rights groups have also raised concerns about the voters' roll.

      Based on an audit of 10% of the list, the FreeZim group concluded it
      contains up to one million dead people, more than 300 000 duplicate
      names and one million people who no longer reside at their registered

      Mugabe has 'already won'
      Meanwhile, Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) president
      Willie Madisha told supporters during a Wednesday-night vigil at the
      Beit Bridge border post that Mugabe had already won his country's

      In an address to protesters demonstrating in solidarity with Zimbabwean
      workers Cosatu believes are suffering rights violations, Madisha said
      the elections will not be free and fair, reported South African
      Broadcasting Corporation radio news.

      "The fact that he [Mugabe] has been able to redemarcate the elections
      districts in a way that favours him and his party, [is a problem] for

      "The areas where he does not have support, like in the urban areas,
      have been cut in a way that they have been said to attach to the rural
      areas. That's one thing," said Madisha.

      "Secondly, there has been harassment, there has been intimidation,
      there have been arrests of people. That is yet another problem," he
      said. -- Sapa

      Pictures at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_pictures/4396779.stm


      Nearly as good as new will do just fine

      Maputo, Mozambique

      30 March 2005 09:59

      At 9am on a Monday morning, the used clothing vendors at Chiquelene
      Market in Mozambique's capital, Maputo, are still unpacking their

      The contents of bales of clothing purchased from wholesalers in the
      city centre are inspected with care: a good batch containing newer, more
      fashionable clothing can yield good sales; a bale containing more worn
      items in dated styles may mean a difficult week ahead.

      "Sometimes I have to throw them away," said Angelina Arnaldo, as she
      sorts through a pile of underwear, separating boxers from briefs.

      The sale of clothing donated to charities in Europe and North America
      has supported Arnaldo and her seven children for 17 years. On a good
      day, she takes home around $10.

      "It's easier than selling food because it doesn't go off," she
      explained, as a man wearing a "Merry Christmas" baseball cap hands her 5
      000 meticais ($0.33) for a pair of boxers emblazoned with cartoon
      characters from Snow White. "But business was better before -- these
      days, people don't have money even for used clothes, and there are more
      people selling than before."

      Shoppers with less time and more money browse through stalls displaying
      new clothing near the front of the market, but most people duck past the
      cheaply made imports from China, Dubai and South Africa, and squeeze
      their way down narrow, maze-like passageways, dodging puddles and young
      boys hawking cigarettes, in search of the used clothing section.

      Hundreds of vendors compete for business in this sprawling market, one
      of several in Maputo, where large quantities of used clothing change
      hands. Some specialise in jeans; others sell only men's white shirts or
      women's swimwear. Vendors report that most of the clothing comes from
      Canada, but, judging from the labels, most of it originated in the
      United States and was shipped via Canada.

      T-shirts reveal the most about their origins. "Wrestling Camp 1983 --
      Portland, Or", reads a well-worn yellow shirt. "Life's a Beach --
      Laurie's Bar-mitzvah, Oct 12, '96", announces another. A red T-shirt
      with a picture of a naked lady trumpets, "May's Club -- Rose City's
      First Topless".

      Maura Marina is shopping for the baby she is expecting in a couple of
      months. She buys clothes for her entire family from Chiquelene Market --
      not, she said, because she cannot afford new clothes, but because she
      prefers the quality.

      Marina insisted she drew the line at used underwear but vendors and
      wholesalers report that women's bras are one of their biggest sellers.
      Trying on a bra for size, another woman said she also preferred the
      quality of used clothes from Europe and North America, but the real
      clincher was the price -- a new bra would set her back around $20,
      compared to around $1 for a used one.

      In an effort to protect local garment manufacturers, several African
      countries have imposed bans on the influx of used clothing but, in
      Mozambique, where the textile industry has not recovered from a long
      civil war that ended in 1992, used clothing has become an integral part
      of the economy.

      Bipin Lalgi manages one of about 14 used clothing wholesalers in
      Maputo, where all the bales filling his store arrived in a container
      from Toronto. A 45kg bale sells for between 1,5- and 2,5-million
      meticais ($100 to $170), depending on the quality and type of clothing
      it contains.

      "If they stopped us importing these clothes, many people would suffer
      from poverty," Lalgi said. When the shop opened in 1996, he could shift
      around 50 bales of clothing a day, but in recent years competition from
      other wholesalers has seen sales decline to around 15 bales a day.

      The president of the Textile Federation in neighbouring South Africa,
      Walter Simeoni, argues that many more jobs could be created in the long
      term by banning imports of used clothing and investing in local

      After thousands of job losses in the sector, South Africa implemented
      such a ban in 1999. Although Simeoni conceded that the ban had not
      prevented South Africa's textile industry from continuing to flounder
      due to other factors, including the massive influx of cheap clothing
      from China, he maintains that a similar ban would benefit countries like

      "I know there's a moral issue attached, and that governments say, 'we
      have poor people who've got to have access to this used clothing'. On
      the other hand, as long as they have the used clothing, they won't have
      an industry and, in the long term, it's more important to build up an
      industry," Simeoni explained.

      Back in Maputo, 24-year-old Pedro Samuel is selling secondhand T-shirts
      from a two by one metre space at Xipamanine Market. He estimates there
      are 1 000 vendors selling used clothing at this market alone.

      "At the moment, this is the only job I can do," Samuel said, explaining
      that he started helping his father sell used clothing when he was aged
      just 11. "People buy from me because they can't afford to buy new," he
      shrugged. -- Irin
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