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  • 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 1 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


      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

      "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

      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
      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 2 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

        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.

        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

        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
        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 3 of 26 , Jul 15, 2004
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          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
        • 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 4 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

            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.


            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


            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
          • 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 5 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

              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
              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

              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

              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
            • 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 6 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


                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
                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

                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 7 of 26 , Sep 22, 2004
                • 0 Attachment
                  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 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
                  > food shortage, but there is concern that the new crop could be
                  > by poor summer rains.
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