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  • Christine Chumbler
    Apr 4, 2005
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      Glimmer of Hope for Embattled African Lake

      World Resources Institute (Washington, DC)

      April 1, 2005
      Posted to the web April 1, 2005

      Charles Mkoka


      Unsustainable utilization practices on Lake Chiuta - which is shared by
      the two Southern African states of Malawi and Mozambique - and the poor
      state of policing and control of fishing activities have led to
      conservation conflicts which are rocking the management of the African
      lake.

      A glimmer of hope, however, appears more evident as a result of
      continued consultations by authorities among communities that derive
      benefits from lake that lies on the frontier of the two countries.


      The local conflicts have arisen from differences over the management of
      the Lake by fisheries authorities from the two neighboring countries.
      While Malawi is implementing conservation efforts to ensure sustainable
      fisheries management, the Mozambique side is relatively unchecked. The
      scenario has created fears that the lake resources will be subjected to
      over-exploitation, resulting in reduced fish stocks in the long run.

      While Malawi and Mozambique share Lake Chiuta, the fishing policies and
      regulations for the two countries are different and the two countries
      have different enforcement capacities. This has been another source of
      conflict as there have been contentions on such issues as fish species,
      fish sizes to catch, close seasons, demarcated fish sanctuaries, net
      gear size and type as well as methods of fishing.

      "Since the advent of colonial rule, fisheries management in Malawi has
      been based on a centralized approach," said Friday Njaya, Divisional
      Fisheries Manager for Southern Malawi. "Management decisions have been
      made with little or no consultation with the user community. Biological
      consideration informed much of the policy, legislative and resource
      management outcomes."

      Starting in 1994, however, there has been renewed interest in the
      involvement of local communities in fisheries management through
      participation. One outcome of the Lake Chiuta crisis has been the
      formation of community based fisheries management committee such as
      Beach Village Committee (BVC) and Fisheries Association (FA), among
      others.

      These communal groups have been formed in all the three major lake
      areas of Malawi. This follows the recent passing of a new Fisheries
      Management Act that provides for the establishment of co-management
      initiatives and, through a decentralization policy, allocates activities
      to be done at district level. The fisheries co-management program has
      been a model example where local communities involved in the management
      of fisheries resources can help change the situation for the better.

      According to Transborder Dialogue, the official newsletter of the
      Southern Africa Network for Transboundary Natural Resources Management
      (TBNRM), the countries sharing the lake have their own policies and
      regulations governing the use and management of fisheries resources in
      Lake Chiuta. Fishermen have therefore tended to take advantage of the
      side where regulations are regarded "weak."

      "Before the collaborative management approach," said Village chief
      Asibu Saute Ngokwe, "communities were being undermined when it came to
      discussing issues in their localities. Organization came to implement
      activities without consulting the village leaders. What they did not
      realize is that as leaders we can resolve our problems. All we want is
      to be given a chance to choose our own destiny."

      A recent community dialogue between Malawi and Mozambique that was
      convened by the Malawi Fisheries department has demonstrated that
      community involvement is helpful in deriving solutions to natural
      resources management. The dialogue was aimed at developing a common
      approach to resolving the conflict and identifying community level
      institutions that will implement and monitor agreed strategies. The
      communities recognized the different fishing practices used in both
      countries, including the use of different types of nets.

      After years of tension over fishing practices and access to resources
      along the lake, local fisherman from the two sides have agreed on
      strategies for their respective countries that promise to deliver a
      common approach to fisheries management in Lake Chiuta.

      Only through transborder local dialogues have these two communities
      begun to resolve this issue and wait for further discussions at policy
      and ministerial levels. Because local communities have been intimately
      involved in the identification of problems and the development of
      solutions, this network will act as a case study in addressing further
      border disputes in southern Africa.


      *****

      Observers back Mugabe party's win

      Southern African observers have endorsed the parliamentary election in
      Zimbabwe, which was won by President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF
      party.
      The Southern African Development Community said the vote reflected the
      will of the people, but other monitors said it was neither free nor
      fair.

      The outcome gives Zanu-PF a two-thirds parliamentary majority that
      enables Mr Mugabe to amend the constitution.

      The opposition claimed the poll was rigged and called for fresh
      elections.

      The US has led international criticism of Thursday's ballot.

      But correspondents say President Mugabe will be concerned only with
      African opinion.

      'Credible'

      Sadc observers said the poll was "peaceful, transparent, credible and
      well managed", although they expressed concern at the opposition's lack
      of access to state-owned media.

      African Union observers were cautious. Delegation chief Kwadwo
      Afari-Gyano said the vote was "technically competent and transparent"
      but noted serious problems with the electoral roll.

      Many of the observers which were critical of previous elections were
      not invited back for this poll.

      Zanu-PF won 78 of the 120 contested seats and the opposition Movement
      for Democratic Change (MDC) picked up 41 seats.

      Under Zimbabwean law, Mr Mugabe has the power to appoint another 30 MPs
      in the 150-seat chamber, giving Zanu-PF a two-thirds majority.

      He said in an interview that he many now increase the size of
      parliament from 150 MPs to more than 200.

      The MDC has dismissed the poll as a fraud, citing evidence of ballot
      stuffing and highlighting flaws in the electoral system.

      The party is questioning more than a quarter of the results.

      MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai called for a new ballot under a new
      constitutional framework.

      "As long as we run elections under the same set of conditions, there is
      no way that elections will be free and fair," spokesman William Bango
      said Sunday.

      Mr Tsvangirai's spokesman said the leader would pursue a programme of
      political alternatives.

      He said the party would not mount a legal challenge because it had
      proved futile in the previous poll - but the MDC had not ruled out mass
      action and protests.

      Constitutional plans

      Zanu-PF has rejected the opposition's accusations of a flawed vote.

      "These were the most free and fair elections in the world," Justice
      Minister Patrick Chinamasa told the BBC.

      In 2000, Zanu-PF won a majority of seats but fell short of a two-thirds
      majority which allows the constitution to be changed.

      Mr Mugabe has long said he wanted to amend the constitution to
      establish a second parliamentary chamber.

      Critics accuse him of wanting to pack the chamber with his own
      supporters to extend his influence after he retires.


      *****

      Mugabe plans to scrap dual elections

      Johannesburg, South Africa

      04 April 2005 08:20

      Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe plans to scrap holding separate
      presidential and parliamentary elections, he said in an interview with
      South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) television on Sunday
      night.

      "I've never believed it was a better system to have a presidential
      election on its own and a parliamentary election on its own," he said
      following his victory in that country's parliamentary election on
      Friday.

      The main opposition party has slammed the elections as being
      fraudulent.

      "If the president is not good even after one term, they can vote
      against [him or her]," he said.

      He also plans to introduce more MPs and a two-tier system.

      "At the moment, it's 150 [MPs] but I think we can bring it up to about
      200 and also have a two-tier system, a Lower House and an Upper House,"
      he said.

      Mugabe told the SABC the changes will be along the lines of the draft
      Constitution rejected in January 2000.

      He attributed his Zanu-PF party's victory to its age and revolutionary
      nature, as well as to the commitment of its members.

      "We are a much older, much more revolutionary party. We have definite
      principles which we follow and that guide us. We have a membership that
      is permanent and committed to us," Mugabe said.

      He said the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is based
      purely on opposition.

      "You can't just be negative," he said.

      The MDC is still finding "its own ground, if it will find it at all",
      he added.

      Asked about his plans for national reconciliation, Mugabe encouraged
      debate between his party and the MDC.

      In Parliament, as well as outside, the members of the two parties are
      free to debate and discuss.

      "Should they [the MDC] have any ideas they believe in sincerely ...
      that will help us to move forward constructively and economically
      improve the lot of our people, fine, they will be very welcome to bring
      those ideas to us," he said.

      Turning to the country's economic situation, Mugabe said that because
      of the drought, Zimbabwe will need to import maize once again.

      "We have the money to do so," he said.

      Asked how he plans to turn his country's sagging economy around, Mugabe
      said that foreign currency must be made available to the mining sector.

      The "corruption and dirt" in the financial sector -- some of it harking
      back to colonial days -- will have to be looked at "very sternly and
      very seriously".

      He hopes to have inflation back to double digits by the end of 2005.

      Asked how he plans to improve his relations with the European Union,
      and those countries that had imposed embargoes against Zimbabwe, Mugabe
      told the SABC that he has not offended anyone.

      "We are more sinned against than sinning ... We have been put into the
      dark by Mr Blair [British Prime Minister Tony Blair], for his own
      reasons. It's a very unfair act, indeed, to us," he said.

      To the rest of the world he said that Zimbabwe is what it is.

      "We can't change. We can't agree to become puppets either," he added.

      Asked by the SABC about his country's media laws, which require
      journalists to register with the government, Mugabe said they are "good
      laws".

      "I don't think our system would prevent a genuine journalist from
      becoming registered. Let people register, but don't deny them
      registration. I don't see any reason why we must deny them, unless, they
      are proved to be bitter enemies of the party."

      Mugabe described Pope John Paul II as a virtuous man whose preachings
      on peace need to be heeded worldwide.

      He was "a very virtuous man, a virtuous leader of the Catholic Church,
      and we do hope that all that he has preached about will continue to be
      heeded by communities throughout the world".

      Small nations such as Zimbabwe fear "the bullies of this world", and
      Mugabe expressed the hope that big nations will heed the pope's lessons
      on peace. -- Sapa
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