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  • Christine Chumbler
    Sorry for two batches today, but BBC added a few interesting things this afternoon... Lightning hits football match A bolt of lightning has hit a football
    Message 1 of 3 , Nov 27, 2001
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      Sorry for two batches today, but BBC added a few interesting things this afternoon...

      Lightning hits football

      A bolt of lightning has hit a football match in
      Malawi, killing five people and injuring more
      than 100 others.

      Police said the lightning struck during a match
      in the southern border district of Nsanje, on

      A number of players were among the injured.

      Correspondents say that although it is not
      uncommon for people to be killed by lightning
      during Malawi's rainy season, the number of
      casualties is considered unusually high.


      Mozambique's gas

      The development of Mozambique's gas
      resources could generate about $21.4bn for its
      economy over the next 25 years, a report

      PLJ Financial Services believes that it could
      also change the South African economy,
      reducing its reliance on oil and providing an
      alternative to cheap coal.

      Dawie Roodt, chief economist at PLJ Financial
      Services, estimates that Mozambique could
      earn about $400m a year from the gas

      Considering that "the Mozambique economy for
      a whole year is roughly about $4bn...then
      obviously this is really something...a very large
      project for the whole economy," he told the
      BBC's World Business Report.

      This could add 10% to national economic
      growth for the next two years, and 2% every
      year after that.

      It will also benefit its end-user, South Africa,
      to the tune of about $3.2bn over 25 years.

      The biggest consumer of Mozambique's gas is
      likely to be South Africa's Sasol, who is
      expected to use the gas in its chemical
      production as well as to produce petrol.


      Zambia moves to shore
      up currency

      Zambia's central bank has introduced urgent
      measures to defend the value of the national
      currency, the kwacha.

      A spokesman for the bank said it would raise
      the proportion of deposits commercial banks
      must keep with the central bank and tighten
      up compliance with foreign exchange laws.

      The kwacha has lost almost a quarter of its
      value in the nine months since Lusaka relaxed
      monetary policy, and the bank is concerned
      that the fall could lead to higher inflation.


      Zimbabwe violence

      Zimbabwean riot police in the capital Harare
      have used teargas to break up a student
      protest over the killing of another student by a

      Correspondents say
      hundreds of students
      had gathered at the
      University of Zimbabwe
      planning to march to
      parliament and hand in
      a petition.

      But before they could
      set off, riot police
      sealed off the campus
      and started to beat
      them up.

      Students said they had wanted to march
      peacefully to hand in their petition, which
      denounced army indiscipline and called for the
      resignation of President Robert Mugabe.

      The latest violence came as the United States
      joined the chorus of international
      condemnation of Mr Mugabe's government.

      Resignation call

      The student protest came in response to the
      death over the weekend of student Lameck
      Chemvura, who was thrown from a train by a

      Reports quoted
      witnesses as saying
      the soldier had
      accused him of being a
      supporter of the
      opposition Movement
      for Democratic Change

      The angry students
      said they were calling
      for Mr Mugabe to
      resign because as
      commander of the
      defence force he was
      clearly failing to impose
      any discipline.

      They said reports that a soldier had been
      arrested for Mr Chemvura's murder were
      irrelevant, given the "lack of control at the
      highest level".

      Unconfirmed reports say one student was
      arrested during the clashes, but our
      correspondent said many student leaders had
      now fled underground.

      The spiralling violence has also left a white
      farmer in critical condition in hospital in Harare.

      Farmer Alan Bradley was shot over the
      weekend by unidentified assailants who had
      used branches to block a road to his farm
      southeast of the capital.

      Many farm workers and white farmers have
      been injured, and some killed, in an often
      violent campaign of invasions of white-owned
      farms in the past 18 months.

      US anger

      On Monday, the United States joined global
      condemnation of Mr Mugabe, rejecting the
      government's use of the word "terrorist" to
      describe a group of foreign journalists.

      "The statements reflect a continuing trend of
      harassment of the free press by the
      government of Zimbabwe," US State
      Department spokesman Richard Boucher told

      "The United States rejects any comparison
      between the international coalition's fight
      against terrorism and the deterioration of the
      rule of law and the state-sponsored violence
      that has emerged in Zimbabwe," he added.


      It appears that Zimbabwe could be moving
      closer towards some form of sanctions
      following a warning from the the British Foreign
      Office not to harass foreign correspondents
      based in Bulawayo.

      A presidential
      spokesman was quoted
      in the government
      newspaper as calling
      six journalists
      "terrorists" after they
      reported on last week's
      political violence in
      Zimbabwe's second
      city, Bulawayo.

      Also on Saturday, The
      Herald quoted
      President Robert
      Mugabe as rejecting
      calls from a visiting European Union delegation
      to monitor next year's presidential elections.

      The EU has threatened to impose sanctions
      against Harare if it is not allowed to monitor
      next year's elections, in which Mr Mugabe will
      face his strongest-ever challenge from the
      MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai.

      EU officials earlier said that relations were


      And it looks like Moi is following Mugabe's example...

      Moi lashes out at Britain

      Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi has launched
      a strong attack on Kenya's former colonial
      power, Britain, accusing it of a lack of support
      and of evil intentions.

      Speaking to the outgoing British High
      Commissioner in Nairobi, Jeffrey James, Mr Moi
      said there was nothing positive to talk about
      regarding relations between the two countries.

      President Moi told Sir Jeffrey it was the duty of
      foreign envoys to work with the governments
      to which they were accredited, and he
      questioned why it was that - as he put it -
      certain countries departed from this norm by
      working with the Kenyan opposition to stage
      subversive demonstrations.

      Britain is one of Kenya's biggest aid donors,
      but has joined a number of western countries
      in complaining about corruption and wastage
      within the government.
    • Christine Chumbler
      Demand for Malawi poll re-run An opposition coalition in Malawi has filed a legal challenge to last week s presidential elections. The seven-party Mgwirizano
      Message 2 of 3 , May 25 9:48 AM
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        Demand for Malawi poll re-run

        An opposition coalition in Malawi has filed a legal challenge to last week's presidential elections.
        The seven-party Mgwirizano coalition is asking the courts for a re-run of the poll, claiming huge "irregularities".

        At least four people were killed in protests against the results which gave the presidency to ruling party candidate Bingu wa Mutharika.

        EU observers say they are "increasingly concerned about a lack of transparency in the tabulation of results."

        "The irregularities are quite massive; not even recounting will do," said lawyer Charles Mhango.

        Mgwirizano candidate Gwanda Chakuamba came third in the official results but has declared himself the winner.

        'Factually incorrect'

        Mr Mhango said that at the time the results were being published on Sunday, several polling centres were yet to declare their results.

        A previous Mgwirizano court case led to the High Court postponing the election by two days, due to problems with the voters' roll.

        The runner-up in the poll has also expressed his unhappiness at the conduct of the poll and has ruled out backing Mr Mutharika, to give him a majority in parliament.

        But John Tembo, whose Malawi Congress Party (MCP) won the most seats in parliament, is not part of the legal challenge.

        At his inauguration on Monday, Mr Mutharika said all observers had declared the election free and fair.

        But chief EU observer Marieke Sanders-ten Holte said this was "factually incorrect".

        "In no place in our preliminary statement issued on May 20 did we use either the word 'free' or the word 'fair'", she said.

        "Rather our overall assessment at this point was that while the elections were peacefully conducted... they were marred by serious short-comings in the electoral process."

        The EU "now urges the Malawi electoral commission to rapidly publish detailed results down to the polling station level."


        a selection of opinions about the election

        and for something lighter...

        Kenya's record-breaking OAP pupil

        Kenya's Kimani Nganga Maruge hit the headlines around the world earlier this year for being the oldest man in Kenya to start school - aged 84.
        The great-grandfather has now won a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the oldest person in the world to start primary school.

        He started Kapkenduiywa school in the western town of Eldoret on 12 January.

        Kenya's government introduced free primary schooling in 2003, making it possible for Mr Maruge to attend.

        Two of his 30 grandchildren attend the same school but they are in more senior grades.

        Mr Maruge did not have the chance to go to school when he was younger because he took part in the Mau Mau rebellion against the British in the 1950s.

        'Flying colours'

        He said one of his main aims for starting school was to learn to count the money he expects to receive in compensation from the authorities for fighting against the British.

        He says he also hopes to learn to read the Bible - because he does not trust the version he hears each week in church.

        According to the charity HelpAge International, the Mau Mau veteran is one of the top five pupils in his class and has been made a prefect.

        "He has gone on to pass his first exams in English, Maths and Swahili and an oral exam in reading with flying colours," a spokeswoman for the charity's Africa Regional Development Centre told BBC News Online.

        The school's head teacher has praised him for the advice he gives to teachers and other pupils.
      • Christine Chumbler
        Two shot in food riot in Malawi Two people have been wounded in southern Malawi after police opened fire on a crowd trying to force their way into a food depot
        Message 3 of 3 , Dec 7, 2005
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          Two shot in food riot in Malawi

          Two people have been wounded in southern Malawi after police opened fire on a crowd trying to force their way into a food depot to buy maize.
          Police spokeswoman Rhoda Manjolo said officers had meant to fire in the air to disperse the crowd in Nsanje.

          Local child welfare official Paul Jofilisi blamed food shortages for Wednesday's incident.

          Malawi is the worst hit of six countries in southern Africa facing serious food shortages.

          Government and aid agencies say up to 5 million Malawians - nearly half the population - will need urgent food aid until the next harvest in April next year.

          Mr Jofilisi said the problem was a shortage of maize.

          "People spend days and nights outside the depots waiting to buy maize and when it arrives [the crowd] is uncontrollable," he told Reuters news agency.

          Last month, President Bingu wa Mutharika warned anyone planning to loot food aid that convoys were being protected by soldiers with orders to shoot.

          He said he knew of aid convoys which had been ambushed.


          Amid Squalor, an Aid Army Marches to No Drum at All

          By MICHAEL WINES
          Published: December 7, 2005
          BLANTYRE, Malawi - Here in Malawi's second city and in the capital, Lilongwe, it is hard to find an office building without some benevolent organization come to help Malawi's throngs of poor.

          The United Nations is here in force. The British are omnipresent in this, their former colony. Some major charities occupy two floors in Lilongwe office blocks. Malawi may be destitute - in 2001, the average earnings were less than 50 cents a day - but commercial real estate is thriving.

          It makes one wonder why, with so many experts here to do good, the rest of the country not only isn't thriving, but is slipping backward.

          Since 1981, the United States Agency for International Development said in a troubling report in September, outsiders have sought to fix Malawi's ills through more than 20 economic adjustment programs devised by the World Bank and eight related loans from the International Monetary Fund. International charities poured in countless private dollars. Overseas development assistance - foreign aid - totals about $35 per person, and makes up $8 of every $10 spent on economic development.

          Yet despite that, the report states, only Yemen, Ethiopia and Burundi have worse rates of chronic malnutrition than does Malawi, where 49 percent of all children are stunted. Moreover, that rate has not improved for 15 years.

          Malawi is now suffering through one of the worst hunger emergencies in Africa. The ostensible cause is drought. The real reason, however, is worsening poverty. Many of the 12 million or so people are now so poor that they have nothing to fall back on in good times, much less bad ones.

          By most appearances, neither legions of charity workers nor phalanxes of money-toting economic structural adjusters have done much except, perhaps, to prevent stunting among even more malnourished children.


          Malawi's decline is a long and tangled story. The British set up tea and tobacco plantations in what was then called Nyasaland, taking peasants off their own land to grow more profitable crops. After the British left in 1964, an avaricious dictatorship expanded the plantations, leaving farmers with ever-smaller plots. By 1988, 8 in 10 farmers cultivated less than three acres of land - hardly enough to live on, much less make a profit.

          A major drought ravaged those small farmers in 1992, and every effort to revive them has failed or, often, backfired. Families have increasingly resorted to casual labor to survive, further reducing the time they have to tend their own tiny fields, forcing them to sell off crucial assets like cattle to buy food.

          In theory, all this is reversible. "Technically, we know what to do," Suresh Babu, a senior researcher at the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute, said in an interview. "We know how to prevent this crisis, to put them on a long-term path of development."

          Mr. Babu knows: from 1989 to 1994, he advised Malawi's government and the United Nations on food issues. But practically, Mr. Babu says, Malawi's problems are intractable. International organizations and Malawi leaders disagree over anti-poverty strategies.

          Government corruption siphons money and will. Global charities compete for their own pet projects, rather than cooperating on an integrated plan. Malawi hasn't the money or political consensus to do what is needed on its own.

          Take irrigation: Amid drought, a gigantic freshwater lake runs virtually the entire length of eastern Malawi, enough water to saturate millions of now-parched acres. Yet only 2 percent of Malawi's arable land is irrigated. Virtually all of that grows cash crops like tobacco and sugar cane, not the corn that all Malawians eat.

          The government wants to extend water to small farmers, but lacks money. So charities build local irrigation projects, but when they finish and leave, the projects fall apart for lack of maintenance and expertise.

          Why doesn't Malawi train its own experts to improve agriculture? It did: Mr. Babu says he trained 450 experts in food policy and nutrition during his five years there. But "when I go back, I don't see them," he says: about 150 have died, many victims of AIDS. Others left the government for better-paying jobs in global charities or the United Nations.

          That, say Mr. Babu and others, is central to the problem.

          Malawi and its kin lack the capacity - skilled managers and policy makers, good roads and machinery, investors and entrepreneurs - to sustain any effort to climb out of poverty. So outsiders take up the task, often with conflicting aims and shortterm success, often to the government's dismay.

          Such examples barely describe the difficulties attending African poverty. Books have been written on this topic. Many, with titles like "The Road to Hell" and "Lords of Poverty," lay the blame for third-world squalor at the feet of foreigners who want to end it.

          There is even a hilarious poem demonizing "the development set":

          We bring in consultants whose circumlocution
          Raises difficulties for every solution
          Thus guaranteeing continued good eating
          By showing the need for another meeting.

          If only the solution to Malawi's agony were as simple as punishing craven charities, however. Most people here want to do good, and succeed in the short run. But to many, this is a Salvation Army without a general, marching in different directions while poverty and pestilence pillage the civilians.

          Seed is available, but without irrigation. Irrigation ditches are dug, but without fertilizer. Water, seed and fertilizer are donated, but the farmer is dying of AIDS. A healthy farmer raises a crop, but government grain policies make him sell his corn for a pittance.

          A farmer sells his crop, but thousands in this densely populated country face similar hurdles, and stumble.

          "The money being poured into Malawi is huge," said Sylvester Kalonge, the Malawi coordinator for food security and emergencies for CARE International. "But it's not holistic. CARE has holistic programs, but how much geographic coverage can they have? So the impact is localized, and maybe the impact will be washed away in a few years' time, and things will be worse."

          And so Mr. Kalonge and his fellow saviors in the global aid network labor against the latest hunger crisis.

          "That's what we do," he said. "We keep people alive."
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