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  • Christine Chumbler
    Zimbabwe accuses international group of bias August 1, 2001 Posted: 12:57 PM EDT (1657 GMT) HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Zimbabwe called an international press
    Message 1 of 3 , Aug 1, 2001
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      Zimbabwe accuses international group of
      bias

      August 1, 2001 Posted: 12:57 PM EDT (1657 GMT)

      HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) -- Zimbabwe called an international press
      freedom group ignorant and biased Wednesday for criticizing proposed
      media legislation.

      In a letter to The World Press Freedom Committee in Reston, Virginia,
      Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said the group had a "partisan intention" to
      spread falsehoods and entrench international confusion over conditions in
      Zimbabwe.

      The group had said the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Bill
      due for debate in Parliament was an attempt to assert government control over
      access to news and information.

      That "does not deserve to be taken seriously beyond cheap politicking by your
      organization that, with its so-called anti-communist role during the Cold War, is
      now well known for supporting partisan geopolitical interests on behalf of
      Western governments," Moyo wrote to Marilyn Greene, the World Press
      Freedom Committee's executive director.

      The government has said the bill is intended only to instill a code of ethics in the
      local media but has refused to release details of its provision until it is presented
      to Parliament.

      With support declining during a crushing economic crisis, the government has
      been stung by outspoken criticism by a handful of fiercely independent
      publications.

      Independent journalists, who have been attacked by ruling party militants and
      verbally abused by senior government officials in public, say the bill is an
      attempt to muzzle them and introduce penalties against them.

      The government had also used criminal defamation suits to try to silence media
      critics and failed to condemn or fully investigate bomb attacks on The Daily
      News, Zimbabwe's only independent daily newspaper, it said.

      The government controls two main daily newspapers and four weeklies. It has
      banned independent radio stations to uphold the longtime monopoly of the state
      Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corp., a move seen as particularly critical ahead of
      presidenti al elections that must be held by early next year.

      *****

      Zimbabwe loses another
      judge

      Another High Court judge in Zimbabwe has
      resigned from the bench, the third to do so
      this year.

      In a letter to President Robert Mugabe, Judge
      Michael Gillespie said he regretted the
      circumstances that constrained him from
      continuing in office but gave no further details.

      Correspondents say the judiciary appears to be
      losing its independence after the authorities
      flouted several of its rulings against land
      invasions carried out by government
      supporters. Last week President Mugabe
      appointed three more judges to the High Court,
      a move the opposition said was intended to
      increase his government's influence in the
      judiciary.

      *****

      And a follow-up...

      Nigeria: Space plan aimed at satellites,
      mining

      August 1, 2001 Posted: 12:42 PM EDT (1642 GMT)

      LAGOS, Nigeria (Reuters) -- President Olusegun Obasanjo has said
      Nigeria's new space agency, dismissed by critics as a joke, does not aim to
      land a Nigerian on the moon but to develop its own satellite technology
      and identify areas for mining.

      Nigeria plans to use advances in remote sensing, weather forecasting and
      satellite communications "for the exploration and exploitation of our mineral
      resources, and the development of information and communication
      technologies," the semi-official Daily Times quoted Obasanjo as saying.

      He made his remarks at the inauguration of Nigeria's Honorary Presidential
      Advisory Council on Science and Technology on Tuesday, a day after the space
      program was criticized by the Financial Times of London.

      An FT editorial faulted Nigeria for earmarking nearly $100 million for the space
      program after missing most economic reform targets set by the International
      Monetary Fund.
    • Christine Chumbler
      Some amazing pictures of the volcanic eruption in eastern DRC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/africa/newsid_1768000/1768012.stm ***** Tanzania
      Message 2 of 3 , Jan 18, 2002
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        Some amazing pictures of the volcanic eruption in eastern DRC.
        http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/africa/newsid_1768000/1768012.stm

        *****

        Tanzania announces
        deaths inquiry

        By Christine Otien in Dar es Salaam

        President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania has
        announced the formation of a body to
        investigate the killings of opposition
        demonstrators in Zanzibar.

        The government says that a total of 27 people
        died during a police break up of a political
        demonstration last year.

        Mr Mkapa's announcement of the inquiry
        commission late Wednesday night came as a
        surprise, just 10 days before the first
        anniversary of the deaths.

        Pleased

        People, generally, have expressed pleasure at
        the president's move despite the lateness of
        the setting up of the probing body.

        "He is right to set up this commission up".

        "But I have no
        confidence in (the
        commission) it,
        because the
        government police
        force are responsible
        for those killings".

        "And Mr Mkapa
        appoints the members
        of the commission".

        "Do you think it's going
        to be fair?" asks a Dar
        es Salaam resident.

        He told me that he would like members of the
        opposition parties included in the commission.

        Government cares

        One woman told me that she thinks that the
        president's decision demonstrates that "our
        government cares for the people".

        "At least people will know the truth".

        One group that should be happy with the
        formation of the deaths inquiry commission is
        the Civic United Front (CUF) party.

        Their supporters were the ones who clashed
        with the police during the street violence in
        Zanzibar.

        Reservations

        The CUF chairman, Professor Ibrahim Lipumba,
        explains how the party have received the
        news.

        "It has been received
        very well in that it was
        long overdue".

        "It was agreed in a
        memorandum between
        (the ruling party) CCM
        and CUF that an
        independent commission
        probe the events leading to the killings".

        However, Professor Lipumba has some
        reservations.

        "The only problem I have is the composition of
        the commission".

        "This is a legal matter and should involve legal
        people".

        He points out that where laws have been
        broken legal bodies should deal with the
        matter.

        "But this is not the case with this commission.
        So I am upset about that".

        Contention

        Another issue that is a contention is the
        number of people actually killed.

        The government maintains 27 people died but
        CUF have a different figure.

        Professor Lipumba
        says, "From our reports
        from the communities
        that were affected, we
        think that more than
        70 people died during
        these problems".

        "So that is one area we
        hope the probe team
        will work on - to get to
        the truth".

        The man the President
        has charged with
        heading this commission is retired Brigadier
        General Hashim Mbita.

        His credentials include being a former
        executive secretary of the Liberation
        Committee of the Organisation of African Unity.

        *****

        I'm not sure about the 3rd paragraph in this story but...

        Mugabe walks tall in
        Malawi

        By the BBC's Hilary Andersson

        Malawi is an African Garden of Eden. Every
        afternoon there are spectacular downpours,
        which replenish the long grasses on the lush
        green hills that surround Blantyre.

        The streets of this tiny town are lined with
        giant African trees with branches that lean
        across entire roads giving shade.

        Here people are armed
        not with guns, but
        umbrellas - and you can
        walk around the darkest
        street at night and still
        feel safe.

        It is a fitting retreat for
        Africa's leaders to gather, and talk about the
        violence plaguing the region.

        And the Malawians did all they could to make
        their neighbouring presidents feel welcome.

        Presidential welcome

        If Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, is
        rapidly turning into an international pariah, you
        would never have guessed it.

        When he stepped off the plane, he was
        greeted by rows of Malawian soldiers clad in
        bright red dress uniforms, complete with
        shining silver swords.

        They marched - as
        hundreds of singers
        and dancers sang
        praises and tributes. I
        remembered how much
        in Africa age and
        status really matter.

        Robert Mugabe is seen
        here as one of the
        fathers of African
        politics. He has been in
        power for more than 20
        years - and you can
        tell.

        He walked through the crowds, his face
        hardened into an expression of determination
        and focus. His posture was straight, exuding
        the personality of a man who is not used to
        being questioned or challenged.

        But this was not an easy trip for him. His
        problems began at the opening ceremony, held
        in a huge marquee. The pastor prayed for
        peace in Zimbabwe. Other leaders squeezed
        shut their eyes, but Robert Mugabe, clearly
        uncomfortable, kept his open and his face as
        expressionless as steel.

        And what with all the nerves and ceremony,
        no-one seemed to notice that the beautifully
        disguised podium on which the heads of state
        sat was actually the edge of the hotel
        swimming pool - the press area gallery was
        built on the diving board, and the assembled
        guests sat more or less in the pool itself.

        Sharp exit

        The culture in this part of the world is to talk
        problems out or fight them out - you're either
        friends or enemies. So the question of imposing
        sanctions on Zimbabwe was ruled out from the
        beginning.

        But the leaders met for
        many long hours behind
        closed doors, and -
        undoubtedly to Mr
        Mugabe's horror - the
        situation in Zimbabwe
        was put on the same
        footing as the conflicts
        in Angola and the
        Congo.

        He burst out of the
        summit before anyone
        else, with his band of
        security guards, and
        skipped up the stairs in a gesture of relief that
        it was over at last.

        He was then mobbed by the press. The
        security guards grabbed the BBC cameraman
        by his belt, and held him firmly at arms length,
        whilst their elbows ploughed into our stomachs
        and faces.

        Most of the international press, and the BBC,
        are banned from Zimbabwe. This was a rare
        chance to ask him a question.

        Was Zimbabwe criticised on its human rights
        record, I asked? Britain was criticised by
        Zimbabwe, he snapped back.

        Robert Mugabe has blamed his growing
        international isolation on a colonial-style
        campaign by Britain. That's why any criticism
        by his African brothers was so painful, even if
        it was mild.

        In the end, the summit
        obtained assurances
        from Robert Mugabe of
        free and fair elections,
        and promises to respect
        the rule of law. But no
        mechanism was created
        to make sure the
        promises were kept.

        These promises have been made before, and
        they didn't stop President Mugabe from
        introducing draconian legislation that
        effectively criminalises criticism of him in the
        run-up to the voting - legislation that makes it
        easier for him to win.

        Regional concern

        While the African leaders were pledging their
        allegiance to the principles of democracy, the
        Malawian security forces barged into a hotel in
        Blantyre, and threw four Zimbabwean
        pro-democracy activists into police cells. They
        were deported the very next morning.

        A man very close to Malawi's president
        confided in me casually that he had great
        sympathy for Robert Mugabe, what with the
        opposition threatening to topple him and all.
        And he was pleased the army has weighed in
        on the Zimbabwean president's side.

        Until recently Zimbabwe was an impressive
        country. It had a thriving tourism industry, and
        it fed its own people. Now it is plagued by
        violence, and threatens to disrupt the entire
        region.

        Africa is already a region that's been left
        behind, as the rest of the world forges ahead
        with the technological revolution.

        Its people suffer and its leaders know that one
        of the major reasons for this is political
        instability. But they do not seem prepared to
        do much about it.

        The tragedy in Zimbabwe has awful
        implications for Zimbabweans, but it also sets
        a truly frightening example for the new
        generation of Africa's democratically-elected
        presidents.

        If President Mugabe can get away with
        elections set on his own terms, then why can't
        they?

        *****

        Mugabe charms SADC

        With less than two months to go before the
        elections in Zimbabwe, commentators in the
        African media are not surprised that
        developments in Harare weighed heavily on the
        minds of southern African regional leaders.

        The presidents of the 14-member Southern
        African Development Community (SADC) were
        meeting in Blantyre, Malawi, to try to find
        ways of addressing ongoing insecurity and
        conflict problems the region, particularly the
        civil wars in Angola and the Democratic
        Republic of Congo.

        But with President Robert Mugabe's
        government tabling controversial security
        legislation in parliament as the summit got
        under way, it was perhaps inevitable that
        much of the regional leaders' attention was
        drawn to Zimbabwe.

        The Star, published in Johannesburg, believes
        Mr Mugabe got off lightly with his reassurances
        to his fellow African presidents.

        "We accept that the
        SADC leaders are
        generally honourable
        men," the paper says,
        "but we find ourselves
        very much surprised
        that they have
        accepted Robert
        Mugabe's bona fides."

        Mr Mugabe's promises in Blantyre to ensure full
        respect for human rights and a commitment to
        freedom of expression could "easily be watered
        down."

        "We hope that, come the March 9 and 10
        presidential election in Zimbabwe, the SADC
        leaders don't find themselves with so much egg
        on the face that they can make breakfast for
        the whole world," The Star says.

        Britain, MDC "in cahoots"

        Zimbabwe's pro-government The Herald notes
        that the communique issued after the summit
        "criticised negative media reports on Zimbabwe
        by some sections of the so-called independent
        press in South Africa, Zimbabwe and the
        West."

        "It is apparent that the South Africans and the
        British are working in cahoots with some
        elements in the opposition press in the country
        and those in the MDC," the paper comments.

        In the South African
        capital, the Pretoria
        News has little time for
        what it calls the SADC
        leaders' "bleating
        statement" about
        hostile propaganda and
        negative media reports.

        "Mugabe has a choke
        hold on Zimbabwe's
        electronic media and
        his thugs have actually
        blown up the opposition newspaper's printing
        press," the paper says.

        The passing into law a few days earlier of
        extra security legislation by parliament is
        described by The Daily News in Harare as "a
        dark period in the history of Zimbabwe".

        The Public Order and Security Bill and the
        Access to Information and Protection of
        Privacy Bill are "odious pieces of legislation
        which seek to conspire to deprive
        Zimbabweans of their freedoms," the
        privately-owned newspaper, which is critical of
        the government, comments.

        The new legislation is "an admission by the
        government that it is fast losing the battle of
        continuing to mislead the nation about its
        record."

        "Draconian" media law

        The Financial Gazette, which is critical of the
        government, says the two laws "curtail most
        basic freedoms by giving sweeping powers to
        the security forces".

        Next week, it warns, the government is
        expected to approve "a new draconian law
        seen as silencing Zimbabwe's small but vibrant
        independent media".

        According to the pro-government newspaper
        The Herald, Mr Mugabe told reporters on
        arriving back in Harare from the SADC summit
        that "the whole meeting supported our
        position''.

        That support, the paper
        says, "should put to
        rest all those calling for
        sanctions against
        Zimbabwe and the
        division of the regional
        grouping".

        And the calls for sanctions could even have
        the opposite effect.

        "Zimbabweans have been tried and tested
        before," it argues. "Sanctions will, in fact,
        invoke that spirit of nationalism and unite the
        country in their bid to preserve their hard-won
        independence."

        The "prophets of doom" who had wanted the
        SADC leaders to support sanctions against
        Harare "have been shamed once more".

        SADC "hit for six"

        In South Africa, Jean-Jacques Cornish writing
        in the Pretoria News heard the thwack of
        willow against leather as President Mugabe
        buckled up his shinpads and marched into the
        crease in Blantyre.

        "Arrogant Mugabe hits SADC wimps for a big
        six", he headlines his report.

        Mr Mugabe, he says, is untroubled by the
        British, and put on "a bravura performance at
        the one-day international in Blantyre."

        "He has been bowling them over for decades,"
        the paper says.

        "Only now are they beginning to realise that
        the gentlemen's code known as the laws of
        cricket don't necessarily apply to troubled
        former colonies."

        Last September, it recalls, the Commonwealth
        "learned a bitter lesson" from Mr Mugabe.

        "He looked into the eyes of the people who
        helped put him in power and just plain lied to
        them. The land occupation by so-called war
        veterans would stop, he said. Two days later,
        the promise was broken and the occupations
        resumed. That certainly is not cricket."

        "Small wonder Mugabe walked back to the
        pavilion with a smile."
      • Christine Chumbler
        Africans still ignorant about Aids High numbers of people in Africa and other developing countries do not realise that HIV/Aids can kill. Even in countries
        Message 3 of 3 , Jun 24, 2002
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          Africans still ignorant
          about Aids

          High numbers of people in Africa and other
          developing countries do not realise that
          HIV/Aids can kill.

          Even in countries with high infection rates a
          large majority of men and women believe they
          are not at risk of contracting Aids, the UN
          Population Division says in a report released on
          Sunday night.

          "Dramatic changes in
          sexual and reproductive
          awareness" are needed,
          the UN body states, to
          defeat the Aids
          epidemic. International
          campaigns have raised
          awareness of the
          disease but have not
          changed behaviour.

          The report is based on
          surveys in 39 African, Asian and Latin American
          countries. Men and women were questioned
          about Aids and a high level of ignorance was
          revealed.

          Women, Aids and sex

          Half the women surveyed in Benin, Burkina
          Faso, Chad, Mali, Madagascar and Niger did
          not know that they could become HIV positive
          and develop Aids through sex.

          In half the countries
          surveyed between
          25% and 33% of
          women were unaware
          how they could
          protect themselves
          against Aids.

          Awareness of Aids and
          its prevention differed
          greatly in rural and
          urban areas.

          The study found that
          less than a third of
          married women in villages knew about Aids. In
          most countries, men knew more than women
          about Aids and its transmission through sex.

          Condoms not popular

          The efforts to prevent HIV transmission
          through the use of condoms appear to have
          been a failure.

          In western and central Africa, the report says,
          a serious difficulty in promoting the use of
          condoms has been the desire of women to
          become pregnant.

          Overall "the condom has not become more
          popular" and greater education is need on risk
          prevention, according to the UN.

          Some 28 million Africans live with HIV/Aids, and
          an estimated 2.3 million Africans died from Aids
          in 2001.

          *****

          We will stand our ground, say Zim farmers
          Harare
          24 June 2002 11:53

          About 2 900 Zimbabwean farmers, ordered to cease farming under the
          government's controversial land reform law giving it sweeping powers to
          seize farmland, have largely ignored the deadline and continued their
          business, says Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) representative Jenni
          Williams.

          On May 10 the government amended the Land Acquisition Act to order
          farmers whose property has been earmarked for acquisition to stop farming
          45 days after a notice of acquisition has been issued
          and vacate their property within 90 days.

          For farmers who had been issued with government notices to take over their
          property before the law was changed, the 45-day notice period to stop
          farming came into effect from the day the law was passed.

          "A lot ... are just going to stay as they cannot stop farming in 45 days. We
          will have to stand our ground and see what happens," Williams said.

          The affected farmers, according to the CFU, represent about 60% of the
          white farmers who held about 4 800 title deeds before the controversial land
          reforms turned violent two years ago.

          During this period government supporters, calling themselves war veterans,
          began occupying white farms and demanded that they be redistributed to
          landless black Zimbabweans.

          Meanwhile, in South Africa, the New National Party (NNP) said the
          announcement that the white-owned farms should cease operating was the
          last nail in the coffin of Zimbabwe's economy and could have fatal
          consequences for the New Economic Partnership for Africa's Development
          (Nepad).

          NNP representative for Land Affairs issues Willem Odendaal said: "If the
          African Union, that will be formed next month, does not put an end to the
          tyrannical transgressions of the president of Zimbabwe, then Nepad will be
          doomed and lack credibility.

          "This will result in the failure of this socio-economic plan making it just
          another landmark on Africa's road of deterioration."

          Odendaal said president Robert Mugabe's continued draconic land reform
          plans would lead to the demolishment of property rights in Zimbabwe.

          "It will not only cause famine and poverty, but will also impact negatively on
          South Africa and other neighbouring countries."

          He said South Africans should expect new pressure on the country's
          currency.

          "Zimbabwe's current misery will increase and lead to more unwelcome
          refugees entering South Africa... This will place more pressure on the
          availability of scarce infrastructures like housing and jobs. The burden on
          South African taxpayers will also increase, as the government's
          responsibility to provide aid to Zimbabwe increases," he said.

          Zimbabwe's Land Minister, Joseph Made, was quoted on state radio at the
          weekend saying the number of farmers affected was much less than the
          CFU claimed, but would not specify the numbers.

          Farmers who ignore the deadline will be liable to two years in jail or a 20 000
          Zimbabwe dollars fine or both.

          A CFU representative expressed fears of violence on the farms as the
          deadline passed and farmers vowed to continue working.

          "There are fears of violence. We do anticipate there will be violence and we
          hope it will be curtailed," said Williams.

          Some tobacco farmers who had made a special application to the
          government to continue farming until the end of next season, early next
          year, had their request turned down, according to the state-run Herald
          newspaper.

          The CFU representative said on Friday that, in addition to farmers who have
          to stop operations, an estimated 232 000 farm workers would also have to
          stop working on Monday in line with the amended law.

          *****

          Zim farmers broaden their horizons
          Maputo
          21 June 2002 12:27

          Authorities in Mozambique and Zimbabwe have launched a probe into
          claims by provincial authorities that Zimbabwean commercial and peasant
          farmers were seizing arable land along the border with Mozambique.

          "We have had reports of illegal land occupations from the Manica provincial
          authorities, the most serious case of which involves a major Zimbabwean
          tobacco grower," national director of land mapping and planning Jose
          Mucombo said on Friday.

          Mucombo said authorities in one district of Mussorize reported that
          Zimbabweans have been extending their farms across the border into the
          fertile lands of the central Manica province.

          "There have also been persistent reports of Zimbabwean peasants violating
          the border in different locations," he said.

          Mucombo said governments of the two countries have agreed to form a
          technical commission to probe the issue.

          The commission is expected to examine whether the border demarcations
          of the 1930s still stand or have suffered illegal alterations.

          Mucombo said it was not clear that the alleged Zimbabwean invasions are
          linked to the controversial land reforms in Zimbabwe, which have seen many
          white commercial farmers losing land to the government for redistribution
          amongst landless blacks.

          Meanwhile, a Mozambican government plan to resettle some Zimbabwean
          farmers who legally requested land for lease is still under consideration.

          However, farmers who have asked for very large land holdings have had their
          requests turned down by Maputo, for fear of importing the Zimbabwean
          problem.

          In Mozambique, all land belongs to the state and can only be leased for a
          period of up to 50 years.

          *****

          Tanzania suspends gem
          mining

          The Tanzanian Government has suspended all
          mining in the north of the country after up to
          42 miners died following the failure of a fresh
          air pump.

          The disaster happened on Thursday at
          Mererani, near Mount Kilimanjaro - the only
          place in the world where the gemstone
          tanzanite is found.

          Daniel ole Njoolay, the
          regional commissioner
          for Arusha, said there
          would be no more
          mining in the area until
          all the bodies had
          been recovered.
          Fourteen have been
          retrieved so far.

          The victims are about
          125 metres (410 feet)
          underground and
          about 300 metres (985
          feet) along a
          horizontal tunnel.

          Mining officials said 32 miners were registered
          to work in the mine when the pump failed, but
          another 10 miners were believed to have died
          in an initial rescue attempt.

          Hazardous mines

          Correspondents say tanzanite mines are
          relatively primitive and lack proper safety
          equipment.

          They say miners are usually young men who
          often remain underground while carrying out
          blasting.

          They use oxygen pumps fitted with long hoses
          to pump air down into the mines.

          The mines amount to little more than holes
          hundreds of metres deep and are notoriously
          dangerous.

          In 1998 more than 50 people died after heavy
          rain flooded the mines.

          The Mererani district is rich in deposits of
          tanzanite - a gemstone with a generally
          violet-blue hue which earns Tanzania about
          $8m annually on the world market.

          ****

          Swazi women fear losing
          their trousers

          Women in Swaziland are expressing concern
          after being warned by a senior official that if
          they wear trousers on the streets they may be
          torn off by soldiers.

          The senior official in the royal household said
          trousers were disrespectful to Swaziland's
          traditions, Reuters news agency reported,
          though he acknowledged that younger
          princesses in the extensive royal family were
          among the worst culprits.

          "Soldiers from the army
          will patrol for
          offenders... They have
          been instructed to strip
          the trousers from
          women in pants, and
          tear them to pieces," a
          resident of the capital,
          Mbabane, quoted the offical as saying.

          "If any of use dare wear pants, the soldiers will
          strip us naked," Mary Dlaminini, 22, said after
          listening to Jim Gama, the senior official in the
          royal household, who addressed local people at
          a special meeting.

          Human rights activists have accused the Swazi
          authorities of oppressing women. Swaziland is
          one of the world's last remaining absolute
          monarchies and has a reputation for being
          extremely conservative.

          However, many young women in Swaziland
          now wear trousers and there is likely to be
          deep resistance to any attempts to further
          restrict their freedoms.

          Women are already not allowed to wear
          trousers in government offices and at the
          palace.

          'Medieval'

          "The dictates about what women can and
          cannot wear is medieval but unfortunately
          reflects the fact that women are legal minors
          in Swaziland," Doo Apane, an attorney with the
          Swaziland branch of Women in Law in Southern
          Africa said.

          Last September, King Mswati III tried to revive
          a traditional law on chastity, and banned sex
          for young girls in order, he said, to preserve
          virginity and halt the spread of HIV/Aids.

          But the royal edict has
          faced growing
          opposition from
          parents who have
          refused to get their
          children to wear
          tassels, designed as
          chastity belts, until
          the king's own
          daughters comply with
          the traditional custom.

          The king had also said
          maidens should not
          shake hands with men
          or wear trousers for five years.

          Last November, the king bowed to pressure
          from angry young women and fined himself a
          cow for violating the chastity vow he had
          imposed on the rest of the country.

          In a very unusual demonstration, 300 young
          Swazi women had gathered outside the royal
          palace and symbolically laid down their
          ceremonial tassels.

          They were showing how angry they were that
          King Mswati III had broken his own rules.

          Double standards

          The king, soon after he decreed the ban, had
          announced he was to marry a 17-year-old girl.

          Resentment among Swazi women grew when
          they learned that his fiancée was living at the
          royal palace.

          Any man who breaks the cultural ban is fined
          an animal, such as a cow, or is liable to pay a
          fine.

          Earlier this month, King Mswati married once
          again, bringing the total number of his official
          wives to nine.

          He wedded Nontsetselelo Magongo, an
          18-year-old girl forced to leave school last
          year amid protests from human rights and
          anti-child abuse institutions in Swaziland and
          abroad.
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