- 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?
Malawi cabinet sacked
President Bakili Muluzi has sacked his entire cabinet
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
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
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
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
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
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
The source told me he settled for Mr wa Mutharika, a
recent arrival to
the cabinet, as a way of punishing the presidential
He said the president's announcement that Mr wa
Mutharika was elected
by the joint cabinet and UDF National Executive
Committee was a
He said President Muluzi simply told everyone to
endorse his anointed
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
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
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
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
"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
The upcoming by-elections therefore become all the
more critical, with the
attending risk of political violence and
"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
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
The Electoral Supervisory Commission has yet to set
a date for the closely
watched contests. - Irin
- Upheaval in Ruling Party Continues
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
May 2, 2003
Posted to the web May 2, 2003
Splits in Malawi's United Democratic Front (UDF) began to emerge this
week as another senior official announced his resignation from the
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
"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
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
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
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.
- 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
They have complained that some of the footage broadcast is too
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
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.
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
Many of these lives could be saved if more affordable drugs were
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
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
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.
- BBC has a photo gallery of a man living with AIDS in Malawi
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
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
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
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
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
- 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
But the opposition said the decision ran against his promises to cut
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.
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
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
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
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
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
- Development-Malawi: Rapid Urbanisation Looks Irreversible
Inter Press Service (Johannesburg)
July 27, 2004
Posted to the web July 27, 2004
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
According to the study, three million people now live in urban areas
compared to 260,000 in 1966, something which represents a 25-percent
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
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
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
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
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
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
After being arrested, the nun was allowed to put on her habit, Mr
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
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
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
The Computer Society of Zambia agrees that enforcing such a law will be
difficult, but pledged to help train police officers to understand cyber
"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
- Malawi: Winter Maize Harvest in Doubt
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
September 20, 2004
Posted to the web September 20, 2004
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
"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
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
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.
- Well that's not good news... let's hope that the colorful Autumn
leaves and Spring flowers brighten the moods of Malawi's disappointed
"Christine Chumbler" <cchumble@d...> wrote:
> Malawi: Winter Maize Harvest in Doubtexisting
> UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
> September 20, 2004
> Posted to the web September 20, 2004
> Malawi's winter harvest should ordinarily ease the country's
> food shortage, but there is concern that the new crop could beaffected
> by poor summer rains.