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  • 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 1 of 26 , Apr 3, 2003
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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 2 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 3 of 26 , Aug 6 6:43 AM
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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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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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