- Chiluba won't leave Zambia, despite calls
17 June 2002 09:28
The former president of Zambia, Frederick Chiluba, said on Sunday that he
would not flee the country despite numerous allegations of criminal
wrongdoings that have prompted widespread calls for his arrest.
"Why should I consider running away from my country? Zambia is my
home. I feel proud in Zambia," Chiluba said.
He was responding to an application made in court last week by lawyers
defending two journalists and opposition lawmakers, asking a magistrate
court to temporarily ban him from travelling until he testifies in court over
numerous criminal allegations against him.
"I respect and I love my country. I will not run away," he told a news
Chiluba has been summoned by a court to answer questions regarding his
alleged criminal activities in a case in which two journalists and two
opposition leaders have been asked to show that Chiluba was a thief.
Lawyer Mutembo Nchito asked a local magistrate court that Chiluba and his
former intelligence chief, Xavier Chungu, should surrender their passports to
the court so they would not leave the country.
Nchito is defending Fred M'membe and Bivan Saluseke of the Post
Newspaper and two opposition lawmakers Edith Nawakwi and Dipak Patel of
the Forum or Democracy and Development (FDD) who were arrested by
Chiluba's government for defamation after publishing a story alleging that the
former president was a thief.
Last week, Chiluba's former senior advisor Donald Chanda was jailed for a
week for contempt when he failed to answer a question in court over
Chiluba's alleged criminal activities. - Sapa-AFP
By Martin Plaut
The ruling party in Mozambique - Frelimo - is
choosing a new leader, who is almost certain
to take over as president of the country in
presidential elections due in 2004.
Armando Guebuza, a veteran of the struggle to
overthrow Portuguese colonial rule, will take
over from President Joaquim Chissano who has
been in power for the last 16 years.
Armando Guebuza has
been a leading member
of Frelimo every since
he was elected to the
politburo in 1968.
Then, the party was
at war with the
Portuguese, and Mr
Guebuza became a
rising to the rank of
He has served in every
government since independence in 1975.
Mr Guebuza is a shrewd politician, and a
brilliant linguist, who has learnt to blend
intelligence with a populist touch.
But he has not been without controversy.
As the man who oversaw the departure of the
Portuguese, he became known as "20 - 24", for
allowing settlers just 24 hours to leave the
country with 20 kilograms of their property.
And in the 1980s, he
came in for criticism
for forcibly moving
from the cities to the
But with the crumbling
of the Soviet Union,
he was one of the first
to see the need for
change - swapping his
combat fatigues for
smart suits, and
earning the nickname
As leader, Mr Gebuza is likely to continue the
country's western, free-market orientation,
and to strengthen the already powerful links
with South Africa.
Crackdown in Zimbabwe
The main opposition party in Zimbabwe has
warned President Robert Mugabe that it will
organise more protests, after police cracked
down on opposition militants in two cities at
The leader of the Movement for Democratic
Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, said that the
government should brace itself for more
He did not specify when
they would take place,
but said that it was a
matter of time before
action was taken.
A rally by MDC
dispersed by police in the capital, Harare, on
Police say at least 80 MDC youths and officials
have been arrested and will be charged for
violating the law on security and order.
They are expected to appear in court on
Last week, state-run media reported that
President Mugabe had put security forces on
high alert to crush any mass demonstrations
calling for a re-run of the March presidential
Hundreds of ruling party militants clashed with
MDC supporters in Zimbabwe's second city,
Bulawayo, early on Monday.
deployed in the
townships last week,
and started harassing
overnight, raiding their
houses and beating
No casualties have
been reported in the
clashes, in which
hundreds of people
were involved on both
sides, according to
Police and soldiers were deployed in the
townships, but there were still a few pockets
of resistance a few hours after the clashes
'Struggle for democracy'
The arrests in Harare took place at a
demonstration held to commemorate the 1976
Riot police used tear gas and clubs, and fired
shots in the air to disperse hundreds of
An MDC member, Tendai Biti, vowed to keep up
the struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe.
"Mass action is never impossible, this is only
going to strengthen our resolve," he told AP
Media restrictions Sunday's opposition rally
also is reported to have led to the arrest of
Geoff Nyarota, the editor of the independent
Daily News, told the BBC that three of his
journalists had been beaten up by the police
as they tried to cover the march in Harare.
Mr Nyarota said the
reporters were then
taken to Harare
central police station.
One of them is in
severe pain from
injuries to his arm.
At the weekend, the
more restrictions to
the work of national
reporters in what
critics see as an
attempt to limit foreign media in the country.
An amendment to the new media law says that
foreign media companies will need to pay the
equivalent of a total of $12,000 US to be
American journalist Andrew Meldrum, who
works for the British newspaper, The Guardian,
is already facing trial for publishing falsehoods.
He could face a hefty fine or a prison sentence
of up to two years.
- 'Voting doesn't fill the belly'
12 December 2004 23:59
Mozambique's ruling party, Frelimo, surged ahead last week in unofficial results from the country's recent election, puzzling analysts who had expected a neck-and-neck finish with the opposition Renamo. At the same time, evidence of ballot-stuffing in some remote districts cast a shadow over the clean bill of health that international observers gave the elections.
Projections suggest that Frelimo's presidential candidate, Armando Guebuza, will get 60% of the vote, as compared with 35% for Renamo's Afonso Dhlakama, who in 1999 collected nearly 48% of the vote. These projections are based on results posted by individual polling stations and collected by Radio Mozambique correspondents around the country.
The sharp drop in Renamo support was accompanied by an equally dramatic fall in voter turnout, with numbers expected to be between three million and 3,5-million: less than half of the eligible voters. Turnout in the 1994 and 1999 general elections was 5,4-million and 4,9-million respectively.
Analysts agreed that abstention had been highest among Renamo's traditional supporters in the largely agricultural centre and north of the country, who felt that the government had let them down, and the opposition had failed to provide a viable alternative.
"People chose to stay in the fields -- voting doesn't fill the belly," said independent journalist Marcelo Mosse.
"In the cities, the absence might have been a criticism not only of [outgoing president Joaquim] Chissano, but also of Guebuza -- he is not someone who inspires support."
The political weekly Savana described the low turnout as "a red card to the political class", which it accused of being out of touch with voters' interests.
Reports of irregularities were concentrated in Tete province in western Mozambique.
"In Tete there was clearly fraud, though not enough to affect the final result," said Luís de Brito of the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (Eisa).
He said two voting stations in the province's Changara district had reported turnout of close to 100%, with most of these votes going to Frelimo. De Brito said the high turnout for the province as a whole gave reason for suspicion.
"In Tete, we have an average of 400 voters turning out at each voting table, compared with fewer than 300 per table in all the other provinces."
De Brito said Renamo activists had been forced to leave certain areas of Tete province early in the election campaign, which had prevented them from sending monitors to polling in those areas. Elsewhere in the country, the presence of party representatives during voting and counting was hailed as Mozambique's best safeguards against fraud.
The Mozambican Political Process Bulletin -- an independent newsletter with a wide network of correspondents -- also cited evidence of ballot-stuffing in Tsangano district of Tete province, as well as in Chicono in northern Niassa province. In the latter, 996 out of 1 000 voters registered at one station appeared to have voted, with Guebuza gaining more than 900 of the votes.
Such reports contradicted the positive assessment of international observation teams, who praised Mozambique's strong legal framework for elections, the professionalism of polling station staff, and balanced coverage both in state and private media. Asked why the international teams had not picked up the incidents of fraud cited by Eisa, De Brito said these incidents had occurred mostly at remote and inaccessible polling stations.
The international teams, including Southern African Development Community parliamentarians and representatives of the Commonwealth, the Carter Center and the European Union, were however concerned at the low electoral turnout. Several of the observer teams also mentioned the mistrust that had been created by the party-political structure of the National Electoral Commission, where Frelimo is able to force through decisions by majority vote.
Elderly pay the price for raising Aids orphans
14 December 2004 08:21
Until a week ago, elderly Hannah Dube and her five grandchildren living in the dusty village of Kezi in soutwestern Zimbabwe had been surviving on small portions of dried white melon.
Then Zimbabwe's social services stepped in, handing the 75-year-old Dube emergency aid of the staple corn grain to feed her family, caught in the grip of an HIV/Aids pandemic and a crippling drought.
Her face worn by grief and stress, the aging grandmother's plight in this remote and rural corner of Zimbabwe tells the story of the burden of many other pensioners in this southern African country where HIV/Aids has turned a million children into orphans.
The UN children's organisation Unicef estimates that more than one in five children will be orphaned in Zimbabwe by 2010, with more than 80% of those orphaned by HIV/Aids, which kills about 3 000 people per week on average.
Nine of her grandchildren are orphaned -- she is looking after five children between the ages of five and 13.
Three successive years of drought in this naturally dry region some 600km southwest of the capital, characterised by unproductive soils, and a political and economic crisis have exacerbated food shortages.
"We only eat one meal a day," said Dube, who lives in a hut next to a dusty road, where her cooking fire has long since gone out.
"We are used to it now and there is nothing unusual about it," she said.
While food is available in the shops, people like Dube and her family, who have no source of income whatsoever, cannot even dream of buying any.
Driving up to Dube's home along a narrow dust road, hundreds of people, dangling empty sacks, were seen walking back home, looking tired, hungry and dejected.
They are coming from the local business centre where they had gone to register their names for food aid to be handed out three days later.
"We were told [by an international aid organisation] to come and register our names for food coming next week. But now they say only those on the old list will be given food," Dube said.
The Zimbabwean government this year turned away foreign food aid, saying the country produced enough to feed its people.
But Harare has recently allowed the United Nations World Food Programme to undertake a one-off free food distribution to get rid of its stock left over from April when the government stopped general food aid.
Volunteer workers confirm the hunger in the area.
"It is depressing to go out there visiting the sick, handing out a few bars of soap, diapers, some antiseptic solutions -- but seeing that what is urgently needed is food," said volunteer Georgina Tshabalala.
Dube is not only struggling to provide food for her orphaned grandchildren, but also shelter.
She cleans up grass that fell while she was thatching the roof of her new mud and pole hut in this remote rural area of Zimbabwe.
With nobody to help her build or maintain their home, Dube has to risk climbing onto the roof to patch it up before the rains bring it down.
Inside, the fire has gone out.
Dube said besides the fact that their one meal has already been cooked, she could not afford to keep the fire going because she does not have the energy to regularly go to the bush to cut down firewood.
The elderly woman -- old and weak enough to be a dependent herself -- said she had no choice but to look after her some of her grandchildren.
Those who are not under her wing are probably involved in illegal gold mining, rife in the area.
"I don't really know how they are surviving, but no one helps me with anything. The chickens and the goats you see outside I sell to send these children to school," she said.
Despite the difficult living conditions and lack of food, one of her grandchildren, Dan, (7), passed his year-end school examinations with A grades. - Sapa-AFP
Improved Zim inflation still world's highest
14 December 2004 15:15
Zimbabwe's official inflation rate dropped to 149,3% last month, down from 209% in October, the state Central Statistical Office said on Tuesday. The new rate still leaves Zimbabwe with the highest inflation in the world.
The troubled Southern African country is in the midst of its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1980, with inflation peaking at more than 600% last year.
With the local currency plummeting, sending a Christmas card to Europe by air mail now costs Z$40 000 (about R41) -- twice as much as a one-bedroom apartment did shortly after independence.
A dollar was equivalent to Z$2 at the time, compared with the current official rate of Z$5 600, or Z$8 000 on the black market.
The Reserve Bank attributes the recent drop to tighter fiscal policies aimed at reining in rampant profiteering and a lucrative black market in scarce commodities and hard currency.
However, the official inflation rate excludes prices on a wide range of services and imports that have continued to soar throughout the year.
The cost of medicines, vehicle repairs and health, agriculture and mining equipment has risen by more than 600%. The state telephone and postal companies have increased their fees by 1 000%.
The agriculture-based economy has collapsed in the four years since the government began seizing thousands of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to black Zimbabweans.
The country routinely faces acute shortages of food, gasoline, hard currency and other imports. -- Sapa-AP