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  • Christine Chumbler
    Reporter arrested for interview with a vampire 21 January 2003 09:33 Police in Malawi arrested a radio journalist yesterday for broadcasting an interview with
    Message 1 of 26 , Jan 21, 2003
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      Reporter arrested for interview with a
      vampire

      21
      January 2003 09:33

      Police in Malawi arrested a radio journalist
      yesterday for broadcasting an
      interview with a man who claimed to have been
      attacked by a vampire.

      Southern Malawi has been rife with rumours of
      blood-sucking vampires,
      fuelled by the popular belief that the government
      is colluding with vampires
      to collect blood for international aid agencies.

      A judge later dismissed charges against Maganizo
      Mazeze of broadcasting
      false information likely to cause public alarm,
      after an interview on a local
      radio station with a tea-planter from the southern
      province of Thyolo.

      "I am not bitter with anyone," Mazeze said after
      his court appearance. "In
      fact, my sojourn in jail has reinforced my resolve
      to unearth issues
      authorities would otherwise prefer buried."

      The police said there was no evidence to support
      the interviewee's claims.

      A man was recently stoned to death by villagers in
      Thyolo after being
      suspected of working with vampires. - Guardian
      Unlimited

      *****

      Mugabe party office
      firebombed

      Attackers have thrown petrol bombs at a ruling
      party office in a suburb of the Zimbabwean
      capital, Harare.

      One person died and seven people were hurt,
      several seriously, say police.

      Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said
      about 50 young men drove into Harare's
      western Kuwadzana township on Monday
      night, smashing property and assaulting
      pedestrians before throwing petrol bombs at
      the offices.

      "It's a political attack.
      We suspect that it is
      related to the
      by-election to be held
      in the suburb," Mr
      Bvudzijena said.

      A parliamentary
      by-election is
      expected to take
      place soon, following
      the death in police
      custody last year of
      an opposition
      Movement for
      Democratic Change (MDC) MP, Learnmore
      Jongwe.

      Blame

      Police are blaming the attack on opposition
      supporters and have made 16 arrests.

      Mr Bvudzijena said the
      attack appeared aimed
      at "provoking political
      violence on a wider
      scale".

      MDC officials say it is
      the work of militant
      supporters of
      President Robert
      Mugabe.

      They say Zanu-PF is
      waging a violent
      campaign to win the
      seat in the Kuwadzana constituency by trying
      to intimidate voters. The MDC won almost all
      urban seats in parliamentary elections in June
      2000.

      Widespread political intimidation and
      persecution of opposition supporters has been
      reported in recent months.

      Torture

      Last week, MDC MP Job Sikhala and human
      rights lawyer Gabriel Shumba said they were
      tortured by police while being held in police
      custody.

      Both appeared in court over the weekend and
      were then released on bail.

      At a news conference in Harare, Mr Sikhala
      said he was severely tortured all over his body
      "for a solid eight hours" including having
      electrodes attached to his genitals.

      "They also used planks to beat under my feet
      and over the entirity of my body... I am still in
      pain."

      He said he was then forced to drink poison
      which they said was urine.

      Zimbabwe is in the grip of a major food crisis
      affecting more than half of the country's
      population.

      President Mugabe's government is accused of
      withholding food aid from opposition
      supporters.

      *****

      Zimbabwe distances itself from Moyo's
      comments
      Richard Thompson

      20
      January 2003 12:40

      The South African government has "noted and
      accepted" the Zimbabwean
      government's explanation of remarks by its
      information minister -- who
      described South Africans as "filthy, recklessly
      uncouth and barbaric".

      Foreign Affairs representative Ronnie Mamoepa said
      on Sunday the South
      African government had requested an explanation
      from Zimbabwean
      authorities regarding Jonathan Moyo's remarks.

      Moyo's outburst followed a story in the Sunday
      Times of January 12 about
      his shopping trip to South Africa, when he spent
      large sums on luxury items
      while millions of his compatriots face starvation.

      In his response to that story, Moyo criticised the
      South African media and
      South Africans in general, and clearly implied that
      President Thabo Mbeki
      was not fit to lead the African Renaissance.

      "If these people believe they can lead an African
      renaissance, then God help
      them," Moyo said.

      Pretoria's request -- on Tuesday -- for an
      explanation from Harare can be
      seen as a demarche, in diplomatic terms an extreme
      form of criticism.

      Harare's reply to that demarche criticises the
      Sunday Times for its
      "invasion" of Moyo's privacy and "disregard" for
      his status as a cabinet
      minister.

      However, it goes on to distance itself from
      "inferences" that "cast
      aspersions on President Thabo Mbeki's impeccable
      credentials as a Pan
      Africanist.

      "Nothing could be further from the truth," the
      Zimbabwean government says
      in the statement.

      "The Zimbabwe government respects and supports the
      role and efforts of His
      Excellency President Thabo Mbeki to bring about the
      dawn of a new
      Africa..."

      Mamoepa said the South African government accepted
      the reassurance "in
      as far as it pertains to the government and people
      of South Africa."

      Zimbabwe was suspended from the councils of the
      Commonwealth -- a
      lesser penalty than outright suspension -- after
      President Robert Mugabe
      was returned to office in 2002 in elections marred
      by violence and widely
      regarded as rigged.

      Mbeki is a member of the "troika" delegated by the
      Commonwealth heads of
      Government Meeting to consider whether that
      suspension should be
      continued is to meet again in March.

      Mbeki's representative Bheki Khumalo said on
      Sunday Moyo's remarks
      "would have no bearing on that meeting."

      He emphasised that Mbeki would approach the
      question with an open mind.

      Meanwhile, Moyo blamed the opposition and
      disgruntled civil servants on
      Sunday for spreading reports of a retirement plan
      for Mugabe, accusing
      them of treason and agitating for a coup.

      "If there is anyone who has hatched a plot to
      force the president to step
      down they should face the full wrath of the law,"
      Moyo told the state Sunday
      Mail newspaper.

      Moyo said the debate on Mugabe's future was,
      "tantamount to plotting a
      coup in the glare of the media."

      He blamed the economic crisis gripping the southern
      African country
      marked by massive shortages of food, fuel and hard
      currency, on
      government bureaucrats fumbling what he termed
      "technical" economic
      factors, and not ruling party policies.

      "There is a lot of inefficiency, let alone
      corruption," he said.

      "Our greatest challenge at the moment is that we
      have a civil service that is
      not performing."

      Moyo suggested some members of the civil service
      may be serving "hostile
      political interests."

      The economic disruptions in the country --
      partially blamed on the
      government's often violent seizure of thousands of
      white-owned commercial
      farms -- and erratic rains have caused the
      unprecedented shortages and
      spurred record inflation and unemployment.

      An estimated 6,7-million people face starvation in
      coming months. Analysts
      say the unravelling of the economy is likely to
      intensify demands for
      Mugabe's departure.

      In his comments, Moyo made no mention of two of the
      most powerful figures
      in the ruling party, Parliament speaker Emmerson
      Mnangagwa and military
      commander General Vitalis Zvinavashe, who have been
      cited in reports as
      favouring Mugabe's retirement.

      Moyo also denied any rifts in the ruling party.

      "You will not find in the party any significant
      elements that want to act
      unconstitutionally and undemocratically in favour
      of coup plotters and
      electoral cowards," said Moyo.

      The South African government, meanwhile, faced
      criticism on its Zimbabwe
      policy from another quarter on Sunday. Zimbabwe's
      main opposition the
      Movement for Democratic Change accused Mbeki of
      "hypocrisy" and
      "dishonesty" in his approach to the situation in
      Zimbabwe.

      "The South African government frankly, is
      dishonest," MDC
      secretary-general Welshman Ncube was reported as
      saying, in the Sunday
      Times.

      "It is not surprising, really, because it is the
      same SA government which is
      saying to the rest of the world: 'Don't do anything
      about Zimbabwe. Let
      (Mugabe) go on with his torture and abuse. Let
      bygones be bygones'," he
      said. - Sapa
    • Christine Chumbler
      Authorities Take Stock Of Damage Caused By Floods African Church Information Service January 27, 2003 Posted to the web January 29, 2003 Reported By Hamilton
      Message 2 of 26 , Jan 30, 2003
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        Authorities Take Stock Of Damage Caused By
        Floods

        African Church Information Service
        January 27, 2003
        Posted to the web January 29, 2003

        Reported By Hamilton Vokhiwa
        Blantyre

        Authorities in Malawi are taking stock of damage caused by floods,
        following heavy rains that pounded the country recently.

        The extraordinarily heavy rains occasioned by a cyclone named Defina,
        caused widespread damage to infrastructure and agricultural land. A
        number of roads, bridges and railway lines were damaged. Large areas
        of
        crop fields were washed away, killing at least 10 people and
        displacing
        tens of thousands of people, now in need of relief aid.

        A wash-away of a bridge along Zalewa highway caused a major disruption
        of traffic between Blantyre and Lilongwe, but has since been partly
        repaired to allow traffic to pass.

        Road traffic authorities said three people went missing when the
        bridge
        across Rivi-rivi river was swept away, following two days of incessant
        rains.

        More bridges were washed away throughout the country, rendering a
        number of areas inaccessible to motor vehicles.

        This caused President Bakili Muluzi to declare a state of emergency.
        It
        was the second time the president was making such a declaration in a
        span of less than one year.

        In February last year, President Muluzi declared a state of emergency
        following widespread food shortages that led to deaths of hundreds of
        people, especially children.

        The Commission for Disaster Preparedness, Relief and Rehabilitation,
        said in total, up to 15, 000 people have been displaced by the current
        floods.

        Lucius Chikuni is the head of the Commission. He said work had started
        to
        bring food and tents to the displaced people, who had sought refuge in
        schools and churches in affected regions.

        The most affected areas include Karonga and Rumphi in the northern
        region, Lilongwe, Salima and Ntcheu in central part of the country,
        and
        Machinga and Balaka in the south.

        In Ntcheu district, the Malawi Television featured a cemetery where
        the
        raging flood waters washed away coffins, leaving the graves open. Some
        bodies were recovered several kilometers away.

        Western aid agencies have promised to step up relief assistance,
        following the declaration of a state of emergency by President Muluzi.

        A representative of a western diplomatic mission based in Lilongwe,
        said
        that the declaration would pave way for a suitable response by western
        aid
        agencies.

        World Food Programme (WFP) information officer, Abbelgadir Musallam,
        said his organisation was at pains to try to reach some areas in the
        districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje in lower Shire Valley. He said they
        were
        forced to divert relief food items to other accessible sites more than
        20
        kilometers away from the strategic distribution centres.

        "We have no money to airlift the relief items. Our movements have been
        delayed and we don't know what is happening to those people."

        When making the declaration, President Muluzi said the costs of
        repairs
        could be expected to run into millions of Kwachas.

        District officials and representatives of non-governmental
        organisations
        have issued urgent appeals for food, medicines, blankets, tents and
        sheets for the displaced people.

        Over the past few weeks, teams of field workers from non-governmental
        organisations, the department of disaster preparedness and relief
        rehabilitation, as well as the international organisation of doctors
        without
        borders have been forcing their way across washed out roads to reach
        the
        displaced people.

        District Commissioner for Salima, Gift Rapozo, said about 2,300 people
        in
        18 villages were isolated and that government officials including those
        from
        his office were failing to reach the displaced people.

        "We have come up with the number after estimating the village
        population,
        but we don't really know how many more people are isolated. It might
        be
        possible that others left the areas when they sensed the dangerous
        situation," he said.

        Shadrick Matsimbe, who is the chairman of the Road Users Association,
        said his organisation had difficulties to reach an isolated area
        because a
        bridge had been swept away.

        "People are starving in the villages as we are failing to supply them
        with
        relief items because of the poor condition of the roads and bridges
        leading
        to those areas," he pointed out.

        Religious organisations were mobilising relief aid to the affected
        areas.
        One of them, the Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM), donated
        maize
        flour and cow peas to 1000 households displaced by floods in Salima.

        Ironically, the floods have come after governments in the southern
        Africa
        region were advised to plan for another season of little rainfall, and
        possibly, a terrible drought.

        *****

        Harare police break up
        mayor's meeting

        Zimbabwean police have fired tear gas at
        hundreds of residents of the capital, Harare, as
        they entered the office of the mayor.

        Mayor Elias Mudzuri, who is from the opposition
        Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), says
        he was trying to inform his constituents about
        water shortages.

        He told the BBC's Focus
        on Africa programme
        that this was the only
        way he could
        communicate with
        rate-payers because state-owned media
        refuse to interview him or even carry his
        adverts.

        Mr Mudzuri was arrested two weeks ago for
        holding an illegal meeting.

        Earlier this month, the government announced
        that it would introduce governors to run Harare
        and the second city of Bulawayo, which both
        have MDC mayors.

        'Police state'

        Under tough new security laws, the police
        have wide powers to break up meetings of
        more than five people.

        But Mr Mudzuri said the meeting was going to
        be held in his office and so he did not need
        police authorisation.

        "I hold meetings every five minutes with more
        than five people," he said.

        "It's becoming a police
        state."

        He also said that the
        police were invited to
        the meeting and had
        originally given their
        permission.
      • Christine Chumbler
        Ghost Employees Deplete Govt Coffers African Church Information Service February 24, 2003 Posted to the web February 25, 2003 Hobbs Gama Blantyre Things have
        Message 3 of 26 , Feb 26, 2003
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          'Ghost Employees Deplete Govt Coffers'

          African Church Information Service
          February 24, 2003
          Posted to the web February 25, 2003

          Hobbs Gama
          Blantyre

          Things have turned sour in several government departments in Malawi,
          where civil servants have not been paid salaries on time. A situation
          of ghost
          workers created by senior government officials, is depleting the
          coffers.

          Teachers in primary and secondary schools, being the most affected,
          have
          abandoned classes in a number of schools in several districts around
          the
          country, including Blantyre.

          The issue of ghost workers came out strongly following an audit
          instituted by
          International Monetary Fund (IMF) late last year. It was discovered
          that the
          government's inflated wage bill was a result of huge numbers of
          non-existent
          workers created by officials in six ministries.

          Names of deceased staff, retired workers, and of fake individuals were
          noticed on payrolls. The education ministry was the most affected.

          The Teachers Association of Malawi (TUM) has since taken the treasury
          to
          task, accusing it of being insensitive to the plight of teachers, who
          constitute
          the largest part of public workers. Out of a total 120,000 workforce in
          the
          public sector, 60,000 are teachers.

          TUM General Secretary, Lucien Chikadza, said morale was low in all
          education divisions around the country. He blamed the ministry of
          education
          headquarters for the mess.

          Towards the end of last year, workers in education, agriculture and
          health
          ministries went for Christmas and New Year holidays without pay.

          In the past two years, salaries have been paid irregularly.

          Finance Minister, Friday Jumbe, has since apologised to teachers and
          promised speedy action, saying teachers were victims because the
          ministry's
          wage bill was plagued with a lot of problems.

          "The situation is regrettable because issues of salaries are not
          negotiable.
          The wage bill in the ministry has been fluctuating when it is supposed
          to
          remain constant," said Jumbe.

          Last month, an IMF team made its seventh visit to Malawi since 2002,
          and
          accused the government of spending beyond budget passed by parliament.

          The Fund suspended a US$56 million aid until issues of financial
          mismanagement and poor governance were resolved, and presidential
          trips
          limited, among other conditions.

          Subsequently, Malawi's bilateral donors , the United States of
          America,
          Britain and the European Union, have also closed their aid taps.

          Angered by President Muluzi's reckless spending, the World Bank is
          pressing the government to refund US$1.5 million in aid of various
          uncompleted projects. The EU is also demanding that the administration
          gives back about US$7 million, for similar reasons.

          *****

          UN blames Mugabe for crisis

          The United Nations food agency
          has said that the Zimbabwe
          Government is largely
          responsible for the
          humanitarian crisis there.

          The Zimbabwe crisis was "almost
          beyond comprehension" and could
          easily have been avoided, said
          James Morris, head of the World
          Food Programme.

          He pointed to President Robert Mugabe's land
          redistribution programme,
          which has left thousands of normally productive farms
          lying idle.

          Up to seven million people - half the population -
          need food aid, donors
          say.

          This year's harvest is expected to be even lower than
          in 2002 - just
          40% of normal.

          The government has also been accused of diverting food
          aid away from
          opposition areas.

          'Nightmare'

          Mr Mugabe blames the food shortages on failed rains.

          He also says that his land reform programme should
          increase food
          production, because white farmers generally grew cash
          crops such as
          tobacco and paprika, while small-scale black farmers
          generally grow the
          staple food, maize.

          But Mr Morris disagreed.

          "This scheme (land reform) along
          with restrictions on private sector
          food marketing and a monopoly on
          food imports... are turning a drought
          that might have been managed into
          a humanitarian nightmare," he told
          lawmakers in the United States.

          Mr Morris said that he had held six
          meetings with Mr Mugabe in the past
          six months but had failed to
          persuade him to alter his economic
          policies or remove bureaucratic
          obstacles to food production or aid
          distribution.

          The head of the US Agency for
          International Development, Andrew
          Natsios, agreed.

          Zimbabwe had become "a basket
          case rapidly sliding into a disastrous
          famine that is politically induced," he
          said.

          A government audit reportedly
          shows that many of the farms seized
          from white farmers have been allocated to government
          ministers and
          officials, rather than landless blacks.

          In neighbouring Malawi, which was worst hit by the
          food shortages last
          year, the government says that the situation is
          improving this year.
        • Christine Chumbler
          Just have to point out that on the BBC site today, quite a few hints of peace. Leaders in Sudan are predicting that war will be over by June; observers are
          Message 4 of 26 , Apr 3 6:44 AM
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            Just have to point out that on the BBC site today, quite a few hints of
            peace. Leaders in Sudan are predicting that war will be over by June;
            observers are cautiously optimistic about the peace deal signed in the
            DRC yesterday; and rebels have ended their boycot of the transitional
            government in Cote d'Ivoire. Could it be that parts of Africa are
            examples of peace for the rest of the world?
            http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/default.stm

            *****

            Malawi cabinet sacked
            Raphael Tenthani
            BBC, Blantyre

            President Bakili Muluzi has sacked his entire cabinet
            just two
            days after naming an outsider as his successor.

            A brief statement from the office of
            the president did not give any
            reason for the surprise decision but
            only said all matters requiring
            cabinet attention should be directed
            to his office until a new cabinet is
            appointed.

            The Secretary to the President and
            Cabinet Alfred Upindi told me this
            afternoon he too does not know why
            Mr Muluzi has sacked his cabinet.

            He said the president just called him
            into his office at State House on Wednesday morning
            where he was told
            to issue the statement.

            The decision to dissolve the cabinet comes only two
            days after President
            Muluzi announced that the cabinet and the ruling
            United Democratic
            Front politburo had anointed Bingu wa Mutharika to be
            his successor for
            the elections scheduled for 18 May 2004.

            President Muluzi had tried but failed both in court
            and in public opinion to
            change the constitution to allow him a third term in
            office.

            Resignation threats

            Several ministers and UDF leaders have accused
            President Muluzi of
            imposing the 69-year-old economist on the party.

            A senior UDF official told me that it
            had not been done according to the
            rules.

            Several ministers, according to
            cabinet sources, threatened to quit
            soon after President Muluzi told both
            the cabinet and the UDF National
            Executive Committee that he wanted
            Mr wa Mutharika to be his chosen
            successor.

            My cabinet source told me that ever
            since President Muluzi's first attempt
            to change the constitution to allow him to stay on in
            power flopped, he
            has been intimidating any senior minister he suspected
            was eyeing the
            top job.

            The source told me he settled for Mr wa Mutharika, a
            recent arrival to
            the cabinet, as a way of punishing the presidential
            aspirants.

            He said the president's announcement that Mr wa
            Mutharika was elected
            by the joint cabinet and UDF National Executive
            Committee was a
            facade.

            Purge

            He said President Muluzi simply told everyone to
            endorse his anointed
            successor.

            The speculation is that President Muluzi will now
            purge his cabinet of all
            ministers who are unhappy with the succession process.


            But analysts say it is only a matter of time before
            major splits start
            rocking the ruling party following President Muluzi's
            decision to impose a
            presidential candidate on the party.

            *****

            Zanu-PF is only five seats away from total
            domination

            03 April
            2003 12:42

            Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF is within sight of a
            two-thirds majority in
            parliament that would enable it to make
            constitutional amendments. This
            makes three upcoming by-elections all the more
            important for the opposition
            Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

            Zanu-PF holds 95 of the 150 seats in parliament.
            The 150 seats include 30
            that are appointed directly or indirectly by
            President Robert Mugabe -- eight
            provincial governors, 12 non-constituency MPs and
            ten chiefs appointed by
            their peers and given final approval by Mugabe.

            According to Zimbabwe's parliamentary records, the
            MDC holds 54 seats.
            The ZANU-Ndonga party of the late Ndabaningi
            Sithole, veteran nationalist
            and Mugabe critic, has one seat.

            Five of the 150 seats are currently vacant. Two of
            these -- the Mashonaland
            West governor's seat and a replacement for deceased
            chief Mukwananzi --
            will almost certainly be filled by Zanu-PF members,
            said Greg Linington,
            lecturer in constitutional law at the University of
            Zimbabwe.

            The others are the constituencies of Harare
            Central, following the resignation
            of MDC Member of Parliament (MP) Michael Auret due
            to ill health, and
            Makonde in the northwest of the country, vacant due
            to the recent death of
            Education Minister Swithun Mombeshora of Zanu-PF.
            Also up for grabs is
            Chiredzi South, in the northeast of the country,
            after the suspension of
            Zanu-PF MP Aaron Baloyi.

            It was recently reported that MDC MP Tafadzwa
            Musekiwa had fled to
            London to escape alleged intimidation and had
            resigned his Harare seat.
            But a parliamentary official as well as MDC
            representative Paul Themba
            Nyathi said they had not yet received official
            notification of this, so his
            Zengeza constituency is not considered vacant.

            According to the constitution, if the ruling party
            holds "two thirds of the full
            membership" of parliament, which is 100 of 150
            seats, then it is entitled to
            make constitutional amendments, Linington said.

            Zanu-PF are therefore five seats short of the 100
            seats required.

            Analyst Chris Maroleng of the Institute of Security
            Studies Africa said the
            issue of constitutional amendments becomes relevant
            in the context of
            recent reports, denied by the government, of the
            search for an exit strategy
            for Mugabe.

            "The constitution currently says that within 90
            days of the president's death
            or retirement, there has to be a presidential
            election to appoint a
            successor," Maroleng explained. "But a
            constitutional amendment could
            allow Mugabe to appoint a successor ahead of his
            departure and bypass an
            election."

            The upcoming by-elections therefore become all the
            more critical, with the
            attending risk of political violence and
            intimidation.

            "During the presidential election the [Zanu-PF]
            strategy was to reduce the
            number of voters, as a high voter turnout benefited
            the MDC and low turnout
            benefited Zanu-PF," Maroleng said.

            Other influences include whether a constituency is
            urban or rural -- where
            traditionally it is more difficult for the
            opposition to campaign. Most rural
            seats are held by Zanu-PF, while the MDC tends to
            be urban-based.

            Maroleng said that of the three by-elections, the
            Makonde seat was likely to
            be a "borderline" MDC/Zanu-PF seat as it had been a
            close contest in the
            last election, with reported incidents of
            violence.

            The Electoral Supervisory Commission has yet to set
            a date for the closely
            watched contests. - Irin
          • Christine Chumbler
            Upheaval in Ruling Party Continues UN Integrated Regional Information Networks May 2, 2003 Posted to the web May 2, 2003 Johannesburg Splits in Malawi s United
            Message 5 of 26 , May 5, 2003
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              Upheaval in Ruling Party Continues

              UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

              May 2, 2003
              Posted to the web May 2, 2003

              Johannesburg

              Splits in Malawi's United Democratic Front (UDF) began to emerge this
              week as another senior official announced his resignation from the
              ruling party.

              On Thursday, Jan Sonke, a UDF lawmaker for the commercial capital
              Blantyre, cited the party's failure to "reduce poverty, strengthen
              democracy and improve the economy" as reasons for his resignation.

              He is the third high-ranking UDF official to leave the party following
              a recent controversial decision by President Bakili Muluzi to dissolve
              his entire cabinet and name Bingu wa Mutharika - a political newcomer -
              as the UDF's candidate for the 2004 presidential elections.

              Soon after the political shake-up, Harry Thomson, (former environment
              minister) and Aleke Banda (former agriculture minister) quit the party.
              Both men had expressed an interest in the presidency, and Banda also
              objected to Muluzi's bid for a third term in office.

              But observers say the split in the ruling party could be an opportunity
              to entrench political pluralism in Malawi, where the UDF is seen to
              dominate the political stage.

              "Any kind of split in the UDF would be significant for the future of
              democracy in Malawi. Senior UDF members who are dissatisfied with Muluzi
              may decide to leave the party and form a new opposition. On the other
              hand, some may leave and join existing opposition groups," Ralph
              Kasambara, chairman of the NGO, the Civil Liberties Committee, told
              IRIN.

              "This will in the long term encourage healthy debate and produce a
              vibrant opposition. Presently, the UDF has a stranglehold on politics in
              Malawi and by watering down some of that power, we will eventually
              escape the quagmire of a state dominated by just one party," he added.

              Meanwhile, John Tembo on Tuesday was elected president of the main
              opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP). The MCP convention was marred by
              violence after it emerged that Tembo, the deputy leader of the party,
              had won more votes than party leader Gwanda Chakuamba, and would
              therefore be the party's candidate in the 2004 presidential elections.

              Some 15 people were injured in the clashes.

              *****

              African Presidents Tackle Zimbabwe Chaos

              By ANGUS SHAW
              The Associated Press
              Monday, May 5, 2003; 6:32 AM

              HARARE, Zimbabwe - Three African presidents arrived in Zimbabwe Monday
              for talks aimed at ending the political chaos and violence that has
              crippled the nation for three years.

              South African President Thabo Mbeki, Nigerian President Olusegun
              Obasanjo and Malawi President Bakili Muluzi went to a Harare hotel where
              they were scheduled to meet with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe,
              whose increasingly autocratic rule has been blamed for causing the
              crisis.

              They were also scheduled to hold a separate meeting with Morgan
              Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

              Zimbabwe officials said the main talks with Mugabe were to be held at
              his State House offices, where reporters for some foreign media
              organizations were refused entry.

              The new mediation efforts come ahead of a trip to southern Africa by
              Walter Kansteiner, the U.S. State Department's top Africa official.
              Kansteiner will visit South Africa and Botswana, and will try to win
              backing for calls for political reform in Zimbabwe.

              Mugabe, 79, who led the nation to independence in 1980, narrowly
              defeated Tsvangirai in presidential polls last year that independent
              observers said were deeply flawed.

              The opposition, along with Britain, the European Union and the United
              States, have refused to accept the results, saying voting was rigged and
              influenced by intimidation mainly against opposition supporters.

              Zimbabwe's opposition MDC has criticized African leaders for
              recognizing Mugabe's re-election amid state-sponsored political
              violence.

              The Herald newspaper, a government mouthpiece, said in an editorial
              Monday that Mugabe's foes hoped the talks would lead to Mugabe's
              retirement and implied the government feared a possible attack from U.S.
              and British forces, an implication both nations have repeatedly denied.

              "There is trepidation ... about the timing of the visit in view of the
              pronounced positions of the British and American governments over regime
              change in Zimbabwe following their successful invasion and occupation of
              Iraq," it said.

              Talks between the MDC and Mugabe's party, mediated by Nigeria and South
              Africa, ended in a stalemate last year.

              Mugabe said last month he would only meet with Tsvangirai if the
              opposition recognized his re-election and dropped a court case
              challenging the result, conditions the MDC has previously rejected.

              The opposition and the main labor federation have shut down most of the
              economy with two national anti-government strikes since mid-March.

              Zimbabwe is suffering its worst economic crisis since independence.
              Inflation has soared to a record 228 percent, unemployment is nearly 70
              percent and Zimbabweans face shortages of hard currency, food, gasoline
              and medicine.

              More than 200 people have been killed in political violence since 2000
              and thousands of others, mostly opposition supporters, have been
              arrested and tortured, rights groups say.
            • Christine Chumbler
              Malawi bans Big Brother Africa Big Brother Africa has been taken off the air in Malawi after the country s parliament condemned it as immoral . It voted to
              Message 6 of 26 , Aug 6, 2003
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                Malawi bans Big Brother Africa

                Big Brother Africa has been taken off the air in Malawi after the
                country's parliament condemned it as "immoral".

                It voted to ban the pan-African reality series from its public TV
                station because of concerns about its sexual content.

                Taylor Nothale, chairman of the parliamentary committee on the media,
                said he had received a number of complaints, particularly from parents.


                He said most Malawians felt the show might encourage young people to
                engage in immoral behaviour.

                "People are subjected to horrible pictures which are corrupting the
                morals of our children," Mr Nothale said.

                Opposition leader Gwanda Chakuamba said: "We want the government to
                stop that nonsense on TV."

                Most of the southern African country's 10.6 million people are deeply
                conservative Christians. It also has a Muslim minority.

                Malawi has become the third African nation to condemn the series
                following concerns raised by religious and political leaders in Zambia
                and Namibia.

                They have complained that some of the footage broadcast is too
                explicit.

                State-run Television Malawi has been broadcasting highlights of the
                South Africa-based show every evening.

                It originally featured 12 contestants, each from a different African
                country, locked together inside the Big Brother house.

                As with the western-style format, they are voted off one by one.
                Malawi's representative, Zein Dudah, was removed a month ago.

                Apart from the condemnation over sexual content, the show has been
                praised for bridging cultural gaps and exploding some of the myths
                contestants share about fellow Africans.

                Show producer Carl Fischer said: "If (the show) didn't generate any
                controversy, the project would be a failure."

                Rich Malawians will still be able to watch the show on satellite
                television.

                *****

                Cheap malaria drug approved

                A cheap drug to combat malaria is to be launched by GlaxoSmithKline.
                The drug could help to save millions of lives each year in some of the
                world's poorest countries.

                According to GSK, a course of treatment with Lapdap will cost just 18
                pence (29 US cents) for an adult and 9 pence for a child.

                This is much cheaper than many existing drugs, some of which can cost
                as much as £33 per course.

                Major killer

                Malaria affects around 300 million people around the world each year.

                Nine out of 10 cases occur in Africa. The disease claims the lives of
                at least one million people annually, according to the World Health
                Organization (WHO).

                Many of these lives could be saved if more affordable drugs were
                available.

                This latest drug, which combines two existing anti-malaria compounds,
                has been developed by GSK in collaboration with the WHO and scientists
                in the UK.

                The $5m development costs were shared between GSK, the WHO and the UK
                Department for International Development.

                Trials have shown that it is more effective than some existing
                treatments and can also help people who are resistant to some older
                drugs.

                It has now been approved for use by the UK's Medicines and Healthcare
                products Regulatory Agency.

                GSK said the drug would be made available in sub-Saharan Africa as soon
                as possible.

                In a statement, the company said: "GlaxoSmithKline plans to make Lapdap
                available at preferential prices across sub-Saharan Africa as soon as
                local approval has been granted."

                Professor Peter Winstanley, director of the Wellcome Trust Tropical
                Centre at the University of Liverpool which led the development work,
                welcomed the drug's approval.

                "Lapdap can help us meet the urgent need for an affordable anti-malaria
                treatment for use in Africa," he said.
              • Christine Chumbler
                BBC has a photo gallery of a man living with AIDS in Malawi http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/04/africa_aids_in_malawi/html/1.stm *****
                Message 7 of 26 , Jul 15, 2004
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                  BBC has a photo gallery of a man living with AIDS in Malawi

                  http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/04/africa_aids_in_malawi/html/1.stm

                  *****

                  Sunshine City goes dark

                  Ryan Truscott | Harare, Zimbabwe

                  15 July 2004 12:59


                  Living in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, is getting harder as weary
                  residents battle with frequent power cuts, water shortages and the
                  ever-rising prices of basic goods.

                  Harare once boasted the nickname "Sunshine City" but in the depths of a
                  Zimbabwean winter, it's looking less and less that way for all
                  residents, regardless of their income levels.

                  Last week the state-run power utility, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply
                  Authority (Zesa), announced it is introducing power cuts at peak periods
                  due to increased demand from the cold weather and Zimbabwe's inability
                  to find additional sources for power imports from outside the country.

                  Zimbabwe imports 30% of its power, much of it from neighbouring South
                  Africa, but has in the recent past reportedly had problems settling its
                  bills.

                  Coinciding with the power cuts, Zesa has started broadcasting
                  advertisements every half hour on state radio, proclaiming "Zesa: Power
                  to the people."

                  "While we sit in the dark with candles waiting for the power to come
                  back on and women stream out of the bush with firewood on their heads
                  because they can't afford electricity, the jingles go on and on and on,"
                  says Zimbabwe writer Cathy Buckle in her weekly commentary.

                  In several suburbs of the capital, streetlamps and house lights flicker
                  off at 6pm at night -- to be restored three hours later.

                  There are also cuts scheduled for three hours in the mornings.

                  "It's every night," moans one elderly resident of the relatively
                  well-heeled Avondale suburb, near Harare's main hospital.

                  "It was Thursday, Friday and then again at half-past six on Saturday,"
                  she complains. She adds that she keeps her bath "half full" to be ready
                  for water cuts -- usually advertised in the state-run Herald newspaper
                  and on public radio.

                  In June some suburbs had no water for almost three weeks. The
                  authorities blamed pump failures at the ageing Morton Jaffray water
                  plant, as well as a lack of crucial aluminium sulphate used to treat the
                  water.

                  A so-called "water demand management system" was brought in. This meant
                  cutting off supplies to other suburbs for 24-hour periods.

                  Harare's opposition-led city council says it does not have the funds to
                  maintain infrastructure. But efforts to hike rates have been blocked by
                  Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, who has also dismissed
                  Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) mayor Elias Mudzuri.

                  A member of President Robert Mugabe's ruling party, Chombo last month
                  declared previously approved increases "unjustified" and ordered a
                  freeze.

                  The Harare city council has only held two meetings in the past six
                  months, says Jameson Gadzirai of the Combined Harare Residents'
                  Association, leaving residents concerned that civic governance is being
                  frustrated by party politics.

                  "What the residents are feeling now is that council decisions are not
                  being implemented because of a broader agenda being pushed by the [local
                  government] ministry," Gadzirai says.

                  There are other concerns. Public hospitals in the city are faring
                  badly. The privately owned Standard reported this month that corpses at
                  Harare's Central hospital are being rolled down the stairs from wards to
                  the mortuary because there is no money to repair the lifts.

                  Health delivery has been one of the biggest casualties of Zimbabwe's
                  four-year old economic downturn. Cases of kwashiorkor -- a sometimes
                  fatal illness usually associated with times of war and famine -- have
                  resurfaced.

                  At least 621 were treated last year in the city's clinics, according to
                  a report by the council's director of health, Lovemore Mbengeranwa.

                  Price hikes too are a worry. Although inflation rates have fallen, from
                  more than 600% at the end of last year to just less than 400%, prices of
                  foodstuffs and many basic goods continue to rise.

                  Faced with an outcry, the country's energetic Reserve Bank Governor
                  Gideon Gono last week said that "the thinking that prices ought to come
                  down because inflation is coming down is fallacious", the state-run
                  Ziana agency reported.

                  Gono told the conference that prices should still be going up by about
                  6%. But his figures do not square with prices on shop shelves: bread has
                  more than doubled in two months from about Z$1 200 a loaf to Z$2 900.

                  Meanwhile fuel queues resurfaced last week. A wearying fact of life for
                  many Zimbabwean drivers over the past three years, the queues seemed to
                  have disappeared after the authorities removed price controls.

                  State radio said last week's queues were due to "logistical" problems
                  in fuel distribution. -- Sapa-AFP
                • Christine Chumbler
                  Malawian leader to boot out MPs Malawi s newly-elected president has ordered parliament to move to a bombed-out sports complex so he can make it his official
                  Message 8 of 26 , Jul 22, 2004
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                    Malawian leader to boot out MPs

                    Malawi's newly-elected president has ordered parliament to move to a
                    bombed-out sports complex so he can make it his official residence.
                    Bingu wa Mutharika said he wanted to move from his Blantyre residence
                    to the capital, Lilongwe, as part of attempts to streamline government
                    operations.

                    But the opposition said the decision ran against his promises to cut
                    government expenditure.

                    Parliament has 300 rooms and its own school and supermarket.

                    New State House was originally built as a presidential palace at a cost
                    of $100m by a former president, Hastings Kamuzu Banda, but he only
                    stayed in the house for 90 days.

                    Parliament moved into the site in 1995.

                    "The president needs enough room," said Ken Zikhale Ng'oma the
                    president's chief of staff.

                    Costly

                    But Catherine Chisala, spokesperson for the Peoples Progressive
                    Movement, said they were unimpressed.

                    "It will be very expensive to renovate the Kamuzi Institute for Sports
                    into a habitable place and the New State House into a presidential
                    palace," she said.

                    The BBC's Raphael Tenthani in Malawi says that President Mutharika's
                    predecessor, Bakili Muluzi, who was criticised for excessive
                    over-expenditure, refused to occupy New State House, calling it an
                    "obscene extravagance".

                    The site of the proposed parliament was bombed by the army when it was
                    occupied by paramilitaries loyal to President Banda when he lost power
                    in 1993.

                    The Malawi Young Pioneers, as they were called, were suspected of
                    storing their arms in the building.

                    The sports complex remains in disrepair.

                    *****

                    Malawi: Media Involved in Aids Information Dissemination

                    UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

                    July 21, 2004
                    Posted to the web July 21, 2004

                    Johannesburg

                    Malawi's National AIDS Commission (NAC) and local media houses are
                    currently discussing how journalists can help implement the country's
                    national HIV/AIDS policy.

                    Launched earlier this year by former President Bakili Muluzi, the
                    policy aims to engage key institutions, like the media, in planning,
                    coordinating and ensuring common standards in response to the AIDS
                    crisis.

                    Rita Chilolgozi, resident advisor of the policy project, said the main
                    aim of the NAC was to disseminate the HIV/AIDS policy.

                    "We need to use the media as a tool to help the people of Malawi
                    understand the issues. Writing documents that no one sees just isn't
                    enough. The media must be used as a channel through which to pass on the
                    message," a local newspaper, The Chronicle, quoted Chilolgozi as
                    saying.
                  • Christine Chumbler
                    Development-Malawi: Rapid Urbanisation Looks Irreversible Inter Press Service (Johannesburg) July 27, 2004 Posted to the web July 27, 2004 Frank Phiri Blantyre
                    Message 9 of 26 , Jul 29, 2004
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                      Development-Malawi: Rapid Urbanisation Looks Irreversible

                      Inter Press Service (Johannesburg)

                      July 27, 2004
                      Posted to the web July 27, 2004

                      Frank Phiri
                      Blantyre

                      Every morning, residents of Malawi's sprawling commercial hub, Blantyre
                      wake up to deafening noises as hundreds of thousands of people pour into
                      the city to try to make a living.

                      During peak hours, roads from townships leading to the city's main
                      streets become clogged with traffic that range from minibuses, trucks,
                      bicycles and a sea of pedestrians.

                      Road accidents are common and vary from five to ten a day in the city,
                      according to the police.

                      Back in the 1980s, peak hours in Blantyre hardly resulted in traffic
                      jams unless, of course, if the convoy of the late dictator Hastings
                      Kamuzu Banda was passing-by and roads had to be cordoned off by order.

                      Now Blantyre's landscapes are changing. The latest United Nations
                      Centre for Human Settlement (UNCHS) study on urbanisation shows that the
                      city of Blantyre and other trading centres in the northern and central
                      regions of Malawi are becoming noisier, thanks to rapid urbanisation.

                      The study, which was released this month, says Malawi, a tiny,
                      landlocked and impoverished southern African nation of about 13 million
                      has emerged as the fastest urbanising country in the world with an urban
                      population growth of 6.3 percent, compared to 0.5 percent in rural
                      areas.

                      According to the study, three million people now live in urban areas
                      compared to 260,000 in 1966, something which represents a 25-percent
                      growth.

                      The study, which has tipped Malawi to score highly in urbanisation in
                      the next 15 years, concurs with an earlier study by the UK Department
                      for International Development (DFID) that 44 percent, or more than 5
                      million people would live in towns by 2015.

                      It says three-quarters of Malawi's population lives in the main urban
                      centres of Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba.

                      The findings of the two studies prompted Malawian authorities and civil
                      society Tuesday to convene a meeting in the administrative capital,
                      Lilongwe to debate how to meet the challenges of urbanisation in the
                      next 15 years.

                      The stakeholders, meeting under the theme "Malawi is World Champion in
                      Urban Population Growth", admitted that urbanisation was the main
                      contributing factor to land and housing shortages, congestion, squatter
                      settlements, crime, HIV/AIDS infection and unemployment.

                      Malawi's economy depends on agriculture and shortages of land have in
                      recent years contributed to perennial food shortages, which refuse to
                      ease. In 2002, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation
                      (FAO) and other aid agencies estimated that more than three million
                      Malawians needed emergency food. This year, the agencies have projected
                      that more than one million people will starve if food aid is not
                      provided.

                      Economists fear that the need to import the staple maize this year
                      could cause depreciation of kwacha as the country's foreign exchange
                      cover is low. Donors are withholding aid, citing fiscal indiscipline by
                      Lilongwe.

                      Apart from food insecurity, HIV/AIDS infection has emerged as the most
                      appalling crisis to hit the urban areas. Malawi's HIV infection
                      prevalence hovers at 14.7 percent, according to the latest UN Joint
                      Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) report.

                      Of the one million people infected, the Malawi National AIDs Commission
                      (NAC) estimates that 25 percent, or 250,000, are in urban areas compared
                      to 13 percent in the rural areas.

                      The commission estimates that AIDS has created about 600,000 orphans.
                      As a result, orphanages are now overwhelmed.

                      "Most of the orphans end up on the streets as beggars and grow up into
                      thugs," says Bertha Bonongwe of Chisomo Care Group, an orphanage at
                      Ndala Village in the outskirts of Blantyre.

                      City officials say urbanisation is also leading to squatter
                      settlements, which cause congestion and sanitation breakdowns. According
                      to UNCHS, 71 percent of residents in Blantyre live in squalid and
                      unplanned settlements.

                      City officials blame utility companies for providing installations in
                      areas that are not fully developed.

                      "Installations such as water and electricity in underdeveloped places
                      attract people to go and settle in such areas," says Sophie Kalimba, the
                      chief executive of Blantyre City Assembly.

                      Masauko Ngwaluko, spokesperson for the Lilongwe Water Board, says
                      vandalism of plastic water pipes has been on a steady increase in recent
                      years. The pipes are used for making teapots and other domestic
                      appliances, which are on high demand in the city.

                      "We're losing about K650,000 (6,000 United States dollars) every month
                      to repair vandalised installations," he says, adding that such
                      disruptions were leading to failure by the board to provide
                      uninterrupted services to residents.

                      The country's sole power utility, the Electricity Supply Corporation of
                      Malawi (Escom), is also feeling the pinch of urbanization. Its
                      installations, such as transformers, are targeted by residents who
                      extract the oil for unknown use, it says.

                      Critics say Malawi has become poorer in the past 10 years of
                      re-introducing multiparty democracy. Before 1994, Malawi had been a
                      one-party state for more than 30 years under Banda. Over 65 percent of
                      the population now lives below the poverty line of one dollar a day,
                      according to the World Bank.

                      In April, a study by Khwima Nthara, an economist with Deloitte and
                      Touche firm revealed that Malawi's Gross National Income - that is
                      earned by individuals in a country - has fallen from 220 dollars in 1997
                      to 160 dollars now.

                      Economists and UN agencies believe poverty is the main driving force
                      behind the rural-urban migration in Malawi. "The influx of people from
                      rural areas is directly linked to increasingly harsh conditions many
                      families are facing in outlying areas of Malawi," says the UNCHS study.

                      To address the problems faced by the urban poor, the Secondary Centres
                      Development Project (SCDP) - a German funded project - is servicing
                      unplanned housing sites with access to clean water, drainages, roads and
                      processing land ownership certificates.

                      Charles Mkula, the projects' communication officer, says SCDP has
                      processed 8,900 title deeds for the poorest households in urban areas.

                      "Due to urbanisation, poverty is increasing in urban households with
                      homeless migrants living in slums not fit for human habitation," Mkula
                      told IPS.

                      Like it or hate it, rapid urbanisation looks irreversible in Malawi.

                      "Evidence shows urbanisation cannot be stopped whether by law, policy
                      or development projects targeting the poor. The best thing to do would
                      be to let public investment follow the people," argues Mtafu Zeleza
                      Manda of the Malawi Institute of Physical Planners (MIPP), which pools
                      the country's engineers, architects, and planners.

                      *****

                      Malawi clerics caught canoodling

                      By Raphael Tenthani
                      BBC correspondent in Blantyre

                      A Catholic priest and nun have been arrested in Malawi for making love
                      in an airport car park.
                      The 43-year-old priest and 26-year-old nun were caught "in the act" in
                      a tinted saloon car parked at Lilongwe International Airport.

                      "It was a bizarre spectacle, the public alerted airport police after
                      noticing the car shaking in a funny way," police spokesman Kelvin Maigwa
                      told the BBC.

                      The pair is due before a magistrate in the capital, Lilongwe, on
                      Thursday.

                      Abandoning pastoral duties

                      When the police arrived, catching them in the act, the two were
                      promptly arrested and charged with indecent behaviour in a public place,
                      Mr Maigwa said.

                      They were detained overnight at a police station near the airport.

                      The charge is a misdemeanour and, if convicted, the pair may get away
                      with a small fine.

                      The two were first noticed by eye-witnesses as they parked the car and
                      wound up the tinted windows.

                      "We thought they could be rushing for a plane that was about to take
                      off but we were surprised that they never got out of the car," said a
                      taxi driver.

                      After being arrested, the nun was allowed to put on her habit, Mr
                      Maigwa said.

                      The priest was dressed in civilian clothes, he said.


                      *****

                      Zambia cracks down on hackers

                      Dickson Jere | Lusaka, Zambia

                      29 July 2004 13:58


                      Zambia's government is to present a tough Bill on cyber crime to
                      Parliament on Friday that will see convicted hackers and other offenders
                      face harsh sentences ranging from 15 to 25 years in jail.

                      The Computer Misuse and Crimes Bill enjoys strong backing from bankers
                      and the Computer Society of Zambia, a group of professionals promoting
                      computer use, who say hacking into dormant accounts has become a problem
                      in this poor Southern African country.

                      "We feel this law will help to deal with the increasing number of
                      electronic frauds and hacking especially in the financial sector," said
                      Milner Makuni, president of the Computer Society of Zambia.

                      The most famous cyber offence in Zambia was committed by a young
                      computer wizard who hacked the State House website and replaced the
                      picture of then president Frederick Chiluba with a cartoon.

                      He was arrested and charged with defaming the head of state but the
                      case failed to succeed because there was no law in Zambia that deals
                      with cyber crimes.

                      "The Bill, once passed, will help to deal with high-tech cyber crimes
                      that our current legal system cannot address," said Bob Samakai, a
                      Ministry of Communication permanent secretary.

                      But some cyber experts worry that the measure is likely to be abused by
                      the authorities to curb access to the internet.

                      "It is difficult to regulate the use of computers and internet because
                      we are dealing with a world wide web," said Brenda Zulu, a renowned
                      cyber journalist who specialises in online reporting.

                      She said the country should first develop a policy on information
                      communication technology (ICT) before rushing to enact legislation on
                      computers.

                      Currently, the Zambian government is seeking public input in its draft
                      ICT policy, which is yet to be adopted.

                      "This law is very vague and not necessary for Zambia at the moment,"
                      said Lloyd Himambo, an editor of Zambia's online newspaper The
                      Watchdog.

                      He said regulating the use of computers will be a difficult undertaking
                      and wondered how such a law will be enforced in Zambia, a country where
                      computers are a preserve of the rich.

                      About one in 1 000 Zambians owns a computer, according to unofficial
                      estimates.

                      The Computer Society of Zambia agrees that enforcing such a law will be
                      difficult, but pledged to help train police officers to understand cyber
                      crimes.

                      "I think what people should be fighting for is to upgrade their
                      security features on their websites to deal with hacking but not to
                      criminalise it," said Zulu, adding that hacking a site can be done
                      outside Zambia, making it difficult to track the offenders.

                      A senior Zambian lawyer who has studied the Bill said it is an "import
                      of the British Act" and lacks local input.

                      "I think this law is very advanced for the Zambian society and
                      government should not rush it through Parliament before reaching
                      consensus," he said, on condition of anonymity. -- Sapa-AFP
                    • Christine Chumbler
                      Malawi: Winter Maize Harvest in Doubt UN Integrated Regional Information Networks September 20, 2004 Posted to the web September 20, 2004 Johannesburg Malawi s
                      Message 10 of 26 , Sep 21, 2004
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                        Malawi: Winter Maize Harvest in Doubt

                        UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

                        September 20, 2004
                        Posted to the web September 20, 2004

                        Johannesburg

                        Malawi's winter harvest should ordinarily ease the country's existing
                        food shortage, but there is concern that the new crop could be affected
                        by poor summer rains.

                        The cultivation of winter crops starts soon after the main summer crop
                        has been harvested, usually around July, and takes place in areas where
                        there is residual moisture after the end of the rainy season, or farmers
                        have access to irrigation facilities.

                        Due to a poor summer harvest it is estimated that up to 1.6 million
                        people will require food assistance up to March 2005, but aid agencies
                        have noted that a bumper winter harvest could narrow the existing food
                        gap.

                        "In the past few years, the government of Malawi has been encouraging
                        winter crop production through various means, and this has resulted in a
                        steady production increase," the Famine Early Warning Systems Network
                        (FEWS NET) said in its latest country report.

                        However, the 2003/04 rainfall "was significantly worse than that of
                        2002/03, especially in the winter maize producing areas", FEWS NET
                        noted. "This poor rainfall would have resulted in relatively less
                        residual moisture and water availability, necessary preconditions for
                        winter crop production. The general expectation is that winter crop
                        production should be lower than last season, especially in the southern
                        region, which was the most hit by the dry spells and shortness of the
                        rainfall season."

                        The National Statistics Office (NSO) has forecast a winter maize
                        harvest of around 225,000 mt, slightly higher than the previous year's
                        224,000 mt. However, FEWS NET said the NSO forecast was questionable,
                        given the poor rainfall this year.

                        "Although the coming winter harvest - around October to December -
                        would help improve the aggregate national food availability situation,
                        the improvements for smallholders in the southern region will be
                        short-lived, and a majority of the households will continue to rely on
                        the markets for food," FEWS NET commented.

                        But the rising cost of staples has limited household access to food.
                        "Prices have already started to rise, consistent with predictions of a
                        worse than normal [harvest] year ... continued prices increases will
                        adversely affect households' ability to purchase food," the report
                        warned.

                        It will take an estimated 56,000 mt to 83,000 mt of emergency food aid
                        to assist the rising number of households in need until the next
                        harvest, FEWS NET forecast.


                        *****

                        Zimbabwe court drops paper case

                        A Zimbabwean court has dropped charges against four directors of the
                        banned Daily News newspaper.
                        The privately-owned paper was shut down a year ago by police under the
                        country's tough media laws.

                        The magistrate said there was insufficient evidence to show they had
                        published the paper illegally.

                        But the publication will stay off the news-stands pending a decision by
                        the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the media legislation.

                        Zimbabwean and international rights groups have condemned the law,
                        which compels all journalists and newspapers to be accredited by a
                        government-appointed media commission.

                        Magistrate Lillian Kudya said the state failed to prove the paper
                        intentionally violated the law, as the paper had won court cases
                        granting the paper a licence, AFP news agency reported.

                        "We are free. We knew justice was going to prevail," said Samuel Nkomo,
                        the paper's chief executive after the ruling.

                        Launched five years ago, the Daily News was the country's sole
                        privately-owned daily paper and was a persistent critic of President
                        Robert Mugabe's government.
                      • scottgeibel
                        Well that s not good news... let s hope that the colorful Autumn leaves and Spring flowers brighten the moods of Malawi s disappointed farmers. ... existing
                        Message 11 of 26 , Sep 22, 2004
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                          Well that's not good news... let's hope that the colorful Autumn
                          leaves and Spring flowers brighten the moods of Malawi's disappointed
                          farmers.


                          "Christine Chumbler" <cchumble@d...> wrote:

                          > Malawi: Winter Maize Harvest in Doubt
                          >
                          > UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
                          >
                          > September 20, 2004
                          > Posted to the web September 20, 2004
                          >
                          > Johannesburg
                          >
                          > Malawi's winter harvest should ordinarily ease the country's
                          existing
                          > food shortage, but there is concern that the new crop could be
                          affected
                          > by poor summer rains.
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