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  • Christine Chumbler
    Chiluba won t leave Zambia, despite calls for arrest Lusaka 17 June 2002 09:28 The former president of Zambia, Frederick Chiluba, said on Sunday that he would
    Message 1 of 57 , Jun 17, 2002
      Chiluba won't leave Zambia, despite calls
      for arrest
      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


      Mozambique's guerrilla

      By Martin Plaut
      BBC, London

      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
      guerrilla commander,
      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.

      'Mr Ge-business'

      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
      unemployed people
      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
      "Mr Ge-business".

      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 weekend.

      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
      supporters was
      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.

      Zanu-PF militias
      deployed in the
      townships last week,
      and started harassing
      MDC supporters
      overnight, raiding their
      houses and beating
      them up.

      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
      Soweto uprising.

      Riot police used tear gas and clubs, and fired
      shots in the air to disperse hundreds of
      opposition supporters.

      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
      news agency.

      Media restrictions Sunday's opposition rally
      also is reported to have led to the arrest of
      three journalists.

      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
      government introduced
      more restrictions to
      the work of national
      and international
      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.
    • Christine Chumbler
      Voting doesn t fill the belly Justin Pearce 12 December 2004 23:59 Mozambique s ruling party, Frelimo, surged ahead last week in unofficial results from the
      Message 57 of 57 , Dec 14, 2004
        'Voting doesn't fill the belly'

        Justin Pearce

        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

        Harare, Zimbabwe

        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
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