short non-Malawi news
- Zimbabwe crackdown: 52 released
21 November 2003 08:47
A magistrate freed 52 people, including 14 labour leaders, two days
after their arrest during nationwide demonstrations against President
Robert Mugabe's autocratic rule and the country's economic hardships.
Nearly 90 people were arrested on Tuesday, including 52 people arrested
in the capital -- among them the four top leaders of the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions. The 52 detainees made their first appearance
on Thursday before Magistrate Sukai Tongogara.
Tongogara released them on the condition that they return on Friday to
face charges of violating the nation's strict security laws by
organising an illegal political demonstration, said their attorney, Alec
Muchadehama. The offence is punishable by up to six months in jail.
Union officials said the group's release was delayed by confusion among
police and state attorneys about what charges to bring against them.
Some members of the group were told on Wednesday they would be charged
with the lesser offence of obstructing traffic in downtown Harare.
Labour leaders called for a nationwide strike to protest Tuesday's
arrests, but it failed to take hold on Thursday.
Mlamleli Sibanda, a federation spokesperson, said there was
insufficient time to mobilise workers.
Zimbabwe is in the throes of economic and political crisis with
official inflation running at 526%, one of the highest levels in the
Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa gave an even bleaker forecast on
Thursday as he announced the annual budget, warning inflation could rise
to a high of 700% in the first quarter of next year before starting to
Murerwa said government services like health and education declined
sharply this year; industry was running at below 50% capacity, and most
of the country's infrastructure was crumbling. The country also faces a
record 13,2% decline in the gross domestic product.
Opponents blame Mugabe's authoritarian rule, including the
often-violent seizure of thousands of white-owned commercial farms for
redistribution to impoverished blacks.
Murerwa said the government aims to introduce a series of fiscal
measures, including government belt-tightening.
"The challenges are surmountable," Murerwa said. "It is ... imperative
we avoid aborting painful measures" toward recovery. - Sapa-AP
Frelimo Claims 'Resounding Victory'
Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo)
November 20, 2003
Posted to the web November 20, 2003
Mozambique's ruling Frelimo Party has won "a resounding victory" in the
municipal elections held on Wednesday, according to Manuel Tome,
spokesman for the Frelimo election office.
Addressing a Maputo press conference on Thursday, Tome said "we set out
to win in all 33 municipalities, and we are certainly going to have a
He did not have detailed figures yet from all of Frelimo's polling
station monitors, but enough information was available for him to
declare victory in most of the smaller municipalities - such as
Catandica and Manica in Manica province; Marromeu and Dondo in Sofala;
Metangula and Cuamba in Niassa; Milange in Zambezia and Montepuez in
Although it is clear that the Frelimo mayoral candidates in Maputo and
Matola, respectively Eneas Comiche and Carlos Tembe, have massive leads,
Tome declined to speak about any of the major cities, on the grounds
that not enough polling stations had reported back.
Asked about the second largest city, Beira, which the opposition
certainly hopes to take, Tome said "we have good results from some
polling stations, bad ones from others".
Initially, Frelimo's hopes of winning Beira were raised - but only
because the initial results reported came from the centre of the city.
As results come in from strongholds of the former rebel movement Renamo
in the Beira suburbs, so the difference between the two parties has
narrowed sharply in Renamo's favour.
Tome declined to admit defeat in any of the municipalities - though it
seems clear that Renamo is winning all down the coast of the northern
province of Nampula - in the municipalities of Nacala, Angoche and
Frelimo was quite prepared to accept defeat in these towns.
"If we lose here or there, that's part of the democratic process", he
Tome accused Renamo of "flagrant breaches of the law", notably by
campaigning illegally at the polling stations. He said that such
incidents had happened "all over the country".
The election campaign ended 48 hours before polling day: this period is
supposed to give the voters a chance to reflect on the promises of the
candidates and make their minds up. At the polling stations nobody is
allowed to campaign, or even wear political party T-shirts, badges or
other items identified with any of the candidates.
Yet Renamo members were seen urging voters in the polling station
queues to cast their ballots for Renamo. Tome said that some of those
campaigning illegally were Renamo parliamentary deputies - including
Ossufo Quitine, head of the Renamo parliamentary group, and Angelina
Enoque, a member of the parliament's standing commission.
Tome said that in several places Renamo appointed polling station
monitors who live outside the municipal area. "We were very tolerant and
overlooked this", he added.
He claimed there had also been disinformation in parts of the country,
where the rumour was spread that the election would be held not on
Wednesday, but Thursday, or that it would last for two days rather than
Asked about the high rate of abstention, Tome pointed out that, while
the turnout was lower than hoped, it was still considerably higher than
in the country's first local elections in 1998, when less than 15 per
cent of the registered electorate voted.
Among the factors that might have contributed to abstention, he
suggested, were the rain that fell on Wednesday in four of the country's
11 provinces, the disinformation campaign, and intimidation by Renamo.
But he also admitted that many Mozambicans "still don't understand the
importance of their participation in these elections".