- System to Monitor Informal Cross-Border Food Trade
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
April 30, 2004
Posted to the web April 30, 2004
A low-cost system to monitor informal cross-border food trade is to become operational in Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe in June.
The monitoring system, to be established by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) and the World Food Programme (WFP), will help donor agencies and analysts to determine how informal trade offsets local food deficits.
Centres based on the Regional Agricultural Trade Intelligence Network model operating in East Africa will be set up on the borders between the four countries to monitor, record and disseminate information related to informal food trade flows.
FEWS NET expected an increased amount of informal trade, particularly between northern Mozambique and drought-affected southern Malawi, as a result of the erratic rainfall in the region.
The Network said it had over-estimated the food aid required for Malawi last season because there were no statistics on the quantity of food that had entered the country informally. "If we are informed, we can then allow the informal trade to play its role before an intervention is made," a representative noted.
A FEWS NET monthly update on Mozambique said maize from several districts in the Zambezia and Tete provinces was already being sold to traders in Malawi, while Malawian traders were selling beans in Mozambique.
"It is hoped that this initiative will strengthen natural trade linkages between countries, and thus, enhance food security," the report commented.
Expanded production of maize was anticipated said Mario Obisi, head of the country's early warning department. Preliminary projections indicated a "much better harvest in southern Mozambique than the last two seasons." He added, "We lost 51,000 hectares of the maize crop to drought in southern Mozambique in the last season. This season we have only lost 8,000 hectares."
According to Obisi, the overall maize production for the 2003-04 season was expected to improve to 1.4 million metric tonnes, from about 1.2 million metric tonnes last season.
The WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organisation will begin a Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission on Friday to confirm national crop estimates, while the FEWS NET report confirmed that maize planted in January was already flowing through the trade circuits.
Total cereal production, including rice, was expected to reach 1.9 million tonnes this season, an improvement over last season's 1.8 million metric tonnes, said Obisi.
Although cumulative rainfall from January to mid-April has been above normal in Maputo and much of interior Gaza in southern Mozambique, many other areas have recorded less than normal rains, with deficits particularly notable in the southeastern coastal province of Inhambane.
Seasonal rains continued to fall erratically in March and the first part of April, but the coastal provinces of Nampula and Cabo Delgado in the north experienced heavy rainfall this month, causing localised flooding and minor damage to property and crops.
Gaza in southwestern Mozambique, known as a drought-prone area, received the highest rainfall, ranging from 180 percent to 152 percent of normal rainfall, while normal cumulative levels were registered in most other provinces.
Despite the rainfall deficits in the southeastern province of Inhambane, a number of factors were likely to minimise the negative effects on household food security in that area. Cassava and cowpeas, the area's main staple crops, are drought-resistant, and according to FEWS NET, field reports suggested that both had fared relatively well.
Mugabe threatens another newspaper
03 May 2004 14:28
President Robert Mugabe's government said on Monday it will shut down another independent newspaper under draconian press laws on the same day as the world marked the United Nations's International Press Freedom Day.
State radio quoted Tafataona Mahoso, chairperson of the state-run Media and Information Council, as saying the moderate weekly Tribune newspaper is operating "illegally" because it has amended its ownership structures without informing the commission.
"In terms of the law, this new company must not publish its new publication until it has applied for and been granted the required registration certificate," said Mahoso, adding: "Accordingly, relevant authorities have been notified."
The Daily News, the country's only independent and best-selling daily, was shut down last September after it fell foul of regulations under the notorious Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, passed in March 2002.
The Tribune leans towards the ruling Zanu-PF party, and one of its leading executives is Kindness Paradza, a former journalist and a ruling-party MP. Paradza recently told Parliament that the Act and laws banning independent radio and television stations should be amended because they discourage investment in the media. The newspaper also criticised the closure of the Daily News.
Last week, the Tribune criticised Jonathan Moyo, Mugabe's propaganda minister, for participating in the illegal takeover of the country's leading export horticulture operation. Paradza travelled to Britain last week and state media accused him of trying to raise funds there for a relaunch of his paper.
He denied the allegations, but the state press accused him of colluding "with enemy and foreign interests". He was suspended from the ruling party last week.
In September 2003, heavily armed paramilitary police stormed the Daily News offices by order of the media commission. The government has violated repeated court orders not to interfere with its operations and senior company executives were arrested.
About 200 people were put out of work. Observers say the ban deprived all opposition parties and civic organisations of a daily platform for criticism of 80-year-old Mugabe regime.
Two journalists from the London-based Sky News television company were allegedly confined to their Harare hotel on Monday for the fourth day after the government declared their presence "illegal".
Reports last week said the team had travelled to Harare with the approval of the ruling party's most senior information official to produce a documentary, which was to include an interview with Mugabe.
Immediately after their arrival last Thursday, Moyo accused them of entering the country without his permission. Their entry would "trigger a response from the agencies whose duty it is to uphold the rule of law in the country", he said.
Attempts on Monday to reach the journalists, producer Den Depear and cameraman Martin Smith, failed but reports said that they were still in their hotel on Sunday night.
International Press Freedom Day is marked on May 3 every year to foster freedom of information and tolerance of diverse viewpoints in the press throughout the world.
The Daily News has been bombed twice, scores of editors, journalists, newspaper executives and even vendors have been arrested, assaulted and harassed by police and state intelligence agents since the Act was passed.
An almost total ban has been placed on visiting foreign journalists and about five locally based foreign correspondents have been deported. The International Committee to Protect Journalists lists Zimbabwe as among the 10 worst offenders of press freedom. -- Sapa-DPA
Zimbabwe: So this is democracy?
Susan Njanji | Harare
03 May 2004 08:00
Journalists in Zimbabwe still risk arrest and imprisonment if they publish anything the government deems untrue or unfairly critical, with no sign of a let-up in a two-year-old crackdown on the media.
Despite repeated calls for a review of the tough media laws that came into force in 2002, local journalists say there is little hope that the regulations will be changed under President Robert Mugabe.
"In the last 12 months we have seen the crackdown on the media being intensified and taken to new heights," said Abel Mutsakani, president of the Independent Journalists Association of Zimbabwe (IJAZ).
"We saw a situation where the media has been brought under the control of the central government," he said, referring to a recent court decision upholding that the state had a right to demand that journalists and their employers had to register before operating in the country.
Under Zimbabwe's media laws journalists and their employers need to be licensed by a state-appointed commission, while the communication of false information carries a fine or maximum five-year prison term under security laws.
The IJAZ, the Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa-Zimbabwe), the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists and the Media Monitoring project of Zimbabwe said in a report to mark press freedom day on Monday that more than 100 people working in the media had been arrested under the media and security laws since 2000.
"The past four years have seen some of the worst media and freedom of expression violations being perpetrated on journalists," they said, adding that the media environment in the troubled southern African state "can best be described as anarchic," they added.
"Media practitioners face detention, arrest, imprisonment and even death," said Misa-Zimbabwe. "Working as a journalist or media practitioner especially for the independent media, has become a hazardous if not life-threatening."
Zimbabwe Information Minister Jonathan Moyo on Friday warned that there was enough room in the country's prisons for local journalists who peddle "lies" in the foreign media.
"Such reporters are terrorists and the position on how to deal with terrorists is to subject them to the laws of Zimbabwe," Moyo said.
Last month Moyo warned journalists that "mercenaries of any kind, whether carrying the sword or the pen, must and will be exposed, and they will suffer the full consequences of the law".
Zimbabwe had the worst record in terms of media freedom among 10 southern African nations last year, a report by the Windhoek-based Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) said on Friday.
It has already kicked out foreign reporters working for international news media organisations.
In its latest annual report So This Is Democracy? State of media freedom in Southern Africa, the body said that 54% of the total 188 alerts issued last year on possible violations of press freedom concerned Zimbabwe.
In February, Zimbabwe's Supreme Court ruled that a media law compelling journalists to be accredited with a government-appointed media commission and allow the body to develop and enforce a code of conduct, was constitutional.
"It casts a dark shadow on the fraternity because it shrinks the democratic space," said journalist Brian Mangwende.
Misa-Zimbabwe said the environment in which journalists operate has forced it to launch a campaign dubbed "Zimbabwean journalists under fire" whose objectives include exposing "the persecution of media workers" and providing "support to victims.
The forced closure of Zimbabwe's Daily News, a privately-owned newspaper that was highly critical of Mugabe, was probably the "most devastating blow" to press freedom last year, according to Misa.
However, in spite of the gloomy picture, there were some signs of hope.
IJAZ chief Mutsakani said despite the closure of the Daily News "we have continued to see private media continuing to brave the onslaught. This is encouraging".
At least four independent weeklies and one daily operate in Zimbabwe as an alternative to the state-owned dailies and televison and radio stations. - Sapa
ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract
by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17
The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by government to look for another contractor instead of China Hunan Construction to construct of the long awaited Karonga/Chitipa road.
China Hunan from Mainland China won the bid which was approved by the ADB but government later wanted to award the contract to a Portuguese firm, Mota Engil, the second lowest bidder, claiming China Hunan's bid was unrealistically low and that the company had very little experience in Africa.
Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe confirmed on Sunday the ADB rejected the proposal at a meeting held between the bank and Malawi government in Tunisia last week.
The Malawi government wanted the Tunisia meeting to authorise it to get another contractor for the road, said Gondwe.
"They did not allow us to look for another contractor because of their regulations. But we are about to get another alternative for Karonga/Chitipa and I would be surprised if it does not start before end June," said Gondwe.
The minister explained that the bank insisted that regardless of the unrealistic cost estimates, China Hunan should be allowed to go ahead with the construction.
But Gondwe could not give further details about the alternatives, arguing there are still a few loose ends to tighten up before disclosing it.
The problem with China Hunan, according to Gondwe, is that it would require more money to meet the total cost of the project.
This paper reported last week that government met Taiwanese representatives where they offered to fund the road if the ADB continued to reject its favoured contractor, Mota Engil.
Gondwe could neither confirm nor deny the reports on the Taiwanese offer, saying government was looking at a number of ways to handle the issue.
According to Gondwe, the China Hunan's bid was 24 percent lower than the consulting engineers' estimates of K7.9 billion and 34 percent below the second lowest bidder.
President Bingu wa Mutharika laid a foundation stone for the construction of the road this year ahead of a crucial byelection in Chitipa in December last year.
The President's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the Chitipa Wenya constituency by-election that fell vacant following the collapse and subsequent death of Speaker of Parliament Rodwell Munyenyembe who belonged to the UDF.
Last week, police and the District Commissioner (DC) for Chitipa stopped a rally that was aimed at soliciting people's views about development projects in the district.
The meeting, which was reportedly organised by Concerned Citizens of Chitipa, was among other things also supposed to tackle the controversial Karonga/Chitipa road.
The project failed to start off in 2000 when a contract for an initial loan of US$17 million and US$15 million from the Taiwanese government was signed, with some quarters claiming the Bakili Muluzi administration diverted the money to another road.
Chihana operated on
by Edwin Nyirongo, 22 May 2006 - 06:32:31
Alliance for Democracy (Aford) president Chakufwa Chihana, who is in South Africa receiving treatment, had a brain operation on Friday at Garden City Clinic, family and party officials confirmed on Sunday.
Aford national chairman Chipimpha Mughogho said he was told by the family members that Chihana had a successful operation on Friday and was put in an intensive care unit.
Mughogho said Chihana, who initially complained of headache, was found with a brain tumour which South African doctors removed.
Mzimba West MP Loveness Gondwe said Aford boss condition was stable.
"Hon. Chihana had a major operation and after that he was put in the intensive care unit but his condition is stable. I do not know where he was operated on but it had something to do with the skull," she said.
Deputy Information Minister John Bande referred the matter to the Health Minister Hetherwick Ntaba who was reported to be in Geneva, Switzerland.
Aford publicity secretary Norman Nyirenda said when Chihana's situation got worse, the family alerted the Office of the President and Cabinet who took him to Mwaiwathu Private Hospital.
"The doctors at Mwaiwathu advised that he should be sent to South Africa and they even identified the doctor for him," he said.
He said the costs are being met by the Malawi government, contradicting his earlier statement that his boss covered the cost.
Mughogho is now in charge of the party.
Gondwe will be a busy person when Parliament starts meeting on June 6 as she is the only Aford MP remaining.
Pillane proposes presidential age limit
by Emmanuel Muwamba , 22 May 2006 - 06:34:13
A member of the DPP National Governing Council Abdul Pillane on Saturday urged members of political parties and the civil society to put an upper age limit in the Constitution for presidential candidates.
Pillane was addressing members of political parties and civil society in Liwonde during a two-day follow up workshop to the National Conference on the Review of Constitution held in March in Lilongwe.
"My view is that (an upper) age limit should be at 75. We have to give a chance to younger people to lead because in circumstance, when you age you become forgetful especially when sickly," said Pillane. "Overall, chances should be given to young people."
But UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala, whose party members agitated for the age limit during presentations, played the issue down.
"I feel there is no logic to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates. If someone is 90 or 80 I don't know how that can influence the electorate not to vote for someone who is younger, I don't see any logic behind that," said Makwangwala.
MCP participants at the workshop also vehemently objected to the proposal.
MCP vice president Nicholas Dausi in an interview said: "There is no constitution in Africa which stipulates an upper age limit. So it would be strange in Malawi to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates."
MDP President Kamlepo Kalua also opposed the need to have an upper age limit.
"If we have personalities in mind that we want to discriminate against then it is unfortunate. The constitution we want to build is a guiding document for future generations and it should not bar certain individuals on the basis of grudges," he said.
The Malawi Law Constitution Issues Paper of March 2006 says several submissions that were received put an upper presidential age limit in the Constitution.
"It is argued that it is common sense that mental knowledge faculties tend to fail with age. As regards what the actual age limit should be the submissions are far from being agreed. The range is from 60 years to 80 years," read submissions in the Issues Paper.
On whether MPs should double as ministers, Kalua said this should be the case.
Makwangwala also said it is not right for MPs to serve as ministers because the Legislature, another arm of government, is reduced while the Executive branch is beefed up from another arm of government.
"There is no separation of powers when MPs double as ministers," said Makwangwala.
But Pillane said there is no problem for MPs to work as ministers as well, saying MPs are elected by the President.
"One can serve both posts. There have been no problems before for people to double," said Pillane.
The Centre for Multiparty Democracy funded the workshop through the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.
The objective was to come up with a collective position on the Issues Paper which will be presented to the Special Law Commission that will be constituted soon.
Mussa hails new driving licence
by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:58:52
Transport and Public Works Minister Henry Mussa last week said the design of the Malawi-Sadc driving licence would guard against forgery and ensure that only skilled and legitimate drivers of particular vehicles are licensed.
Mussa was speaking at the official launch of the licences in Lilongwe where he announced that traffic police would from July enforce speed limits and sober driving using Breathalysers which his ministry is in the process of procuring.
The minister said financial constraints are the reason for the delay in procuring the equipment but assured that by July they would be available.
"With the new equipment, the days of those who believe in the thrill of drink and driving are numbered," warned Mussa.
Mussa added that with the new licence, government is optimistic that the country's roads would be safe.
Acting Director of Road Traffic James Chirwa said the features that distinguish the new from the old licences are the Malawi national flag and a ghost image of the driver's photograph, among others.
Those with old licences, according to Chirwa, are expected to get the new ones after the expiry of the former.
UDF demands investigation on Kasambara
by Rabecca Theu, 22 May 2006 - 06:30:46
The United Democratic Front (UDF) has asked government to investigate Ralph Kasambara on allegations of abuse of office while he was attorney general.
UDF publicity secretary Sam Mpasu told the press Sunday that the party is neither amused or saddened by the removal of the former AG but asked government to institute investigations on Kasambara.
"Beyond the removal of the Attorney General, we now urge President Mutharika to institute investigation against Mr Kasambara into allegations that have made rounds in the public domain during the recent past. These include: Mrs Helen Singh and SS Rent-a-Car; SGS and ITS saga; ...........the use of Malawi Police Service in the arrest of three Chronicle journalists and the handling of Mrs Rubina Kawonga," said Mpasu.
Mpasu also accused Kasambara of awarding government contracts to Lawson and Company where he was a senior partner.
"We urge government to thoroughly investigate the former AG. We also ask government to cautiously select the new AG ," said Mpasu, who was accompanied by the party's Secretary General Kennedy Makwangwala, leader of the party in Parliament George Mtafu, chief whip Leonard Mangulama and a member of the executive Hophmally Makande.
But Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati said UDF should give offer its advice to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB).
"They should advise bodies like the Anti-Corruption Bureau to conduct the investigations and why are they saying this now? Is it because Kasambara has been fired? This is not a personal issue. If they have other pressing issues they should just say so. These arguments should have come up earlier on when the said cases were happening," she said.
Kasambara asked UDF to proceed with the mission of urging government to investigate him.
"They can do their job. Everyone has a right to lobby for anything they want in the country. UDF has a right to do that, let them go ahead," he said.
Kasambara was relieved of his duties as AG by the President last week. Government has not given reasons behind the removal.
Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land
The Times of Zambia (Ndola)
May 18, 2006
Posted to the web May 19, 2006
MALAWIANS who have encroached on both the 'no-man's' and part of the Zambian land at the Mwami border in Eastern Province have plucked out some beacons that were used in the demarcation of the border.
The Malawians are now using the beacons as stools in their newly-established villages on Zambian land.
Eastern Province Minister, Boniface Nkhata, said in Chipata yesterday that if the situation was not controlled urgently, Zambia would lose huge tracts of land to Malawians migrating into Zambian in large numbers.
A check at the Zambia-Malawi border showed a number of beacons had been vandalised and new structures constructed on the 'no man's' land and a large portion of Zambian land.
Mr Nkhata said the trend extended to many parts of the province bordering the two countries.
"A large portion of Zambian land has been taken up by the Malawians starting from the Chama boundary up to the Mwami border.
"The weighbridge at the Mwami border was initially in Zambia from the time both countries gained independence from Britain, but now the bridge is on Malawian soil," Mr Nkhata said.
The minister, who is former Chama District Commissioner, said there was similar encroachment in Lundazi and Chama districts where Zambia shares a boundary with Malawi.
He said a Malawian farmer identified as Mr Mfune had cultivated 71.5 hectares on Zambian land and employed about 265 Malawian workers.
"Khombe Farm in Chama district in Kanyerere's area, along the Muyombe road which leads to Northern Province where this Malawian farmer has cultivated a vast land is on the Zambian territory," he said.
Workers on the farm admitted that they were farming on Zambian soil but could not go back to Malawi because the land in that country was inadequate for cultivation.
Mr Nkhata appealed to the ministry of Lands to urgently release money for the demarcation of the Zambia-Malawi border to avoid further land disputes between the two countries.
Meanwhile, the Immigration Department in Livingstone has arrested a couple and another man, all Zimbabweans, for working in Zambia without permits.
They were arrested at Gwembe village yesterday where they worked for Into Africa, a tour operating company that provides bush dinners and breakfast.
According to the Immigration Department in Livingstone, the trio entered Zambia through the Victoria Falls border as visitors but decided to work for the company illegally.
Last week, immigration officers arrested 10 Zimbabwean traders and six Ethiopians for entering and staying in Zambia illegally.
The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.
The Ethiopians were arrested at Konje Guest House when they ran out of money to proceed to Botswana.
Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests
22 May 2006 11:51
Zimbabwe's biggest labour federation on Saturday threatened to call massive demonstrations against the government over poor salaries and worsening living conditions for workers in the country.
The threats are ratcheting up pressure against President Robert Mugabe's government after similar threats by the biggest opposition party in the country, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), about two months ago.
Speaking at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) conference on Saturday, the labour body's president, Lovemore Matombo, said the powerful union wants the government to award workers salaries that match the country's ever-rising inflation.
"I can assure you we will stage massive demonstrations to force them [employers] to award workers minimum salaries that tally with the poverty datum line," said Matombo.
Matombo did not say when exactly the ZCTU would order workers to strike.
Meanwhile, the MDC on Sunday said it will push ahead with plans for anti-government protests, saying victory in a key by-election at the weekend was a "sign the electorate supported its policies", including democratic mass resistance.
A spokesperson of the main faction of the splintered MDC, Nelson Chamisa, said victory over Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF and a rival MDC faction in a Saturday by-election in Harare's Budiriro constituency is a sign Zimbabweans still have confidence in party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his policies.
Tsvangirai, the founding leader of the MDC, heads the main rump of the opposition party whose candidate, Emmanuel Chisvuure, polled 7 949 votes to win the Budiriro House of Assembly seat.
Gabriel Chaibva of the other faction of the MDC, led by prominent academic Arthur Mutambara, garnered 504 votes while Zanu-PF's Jeremiah Bvirindi polled 3 961 votes.
"This election showed that the electorate still has confidence in the MDC [Tsvangirai-led] leadership and its policies," Chamisa told independent news service ZimOnline.
He added: "We will now move to consolidate our position * we still believe in mass protests. Until we have attained our goals we see no reason why we should abandon [plans for protests]."
Tsvangirai has threatened to call mass protests this winter against Mugabe and his government. He says the mass protests, whose date he is still to name, are meant to force Mugabe to relinquish power to a government of national unity to be tasked to write a new and democratic Constitution that would ensure free and fair elections held under international supervision.
Mugabe and his government, who had hoped for victory in Budiriro to show they were recapturing urban support from a splintered MDC, have not taken idly the opposition's threats to call mass protests, with the veteran president warning Tsvangirai he would be "dicing with death" if he ever attempted to instigate a Ukraine-style popular revolt in Zimbabwe.
In a fresh crackdown against dissension, the police last week arrested several church and civic leaders for organising public prayers and marches to mark last year's controversial home-demolition exercise by the government.
The police also banned the marches and prayers, fearing they could easily turn into mass protests against Mugabe and his government.
However, the marches went ahead in the second-largest city of Bulawayo after organisers had obtained a court order barring the police from stopping the march.
Political analysts say although Zimbabweans have largely been cowed by Mugabe's tactics of routinely deploying riot police and the military to crush street protests, worsening hunger and poverty are fanning public anger that Tsvangirai -- with proper planning and organisation -- could easily manipulate.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe six-year old economic crisis that has seen inflation breaching the 1 000% barrier. Last year, the World Bank said Zimbabwe's economic crisis was unprecedented for a country not at war.
The MDC and major Western governments blame Mugabe for wrecking the country's economy, which was one of the strongest in Africa at independence from Britain 26 years ago.
Mugabe denies the charge blaming the crisis on sabotage by Britain and her allies after he seized white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks six years ago.
The Harare authorities recently hiked salaries for civil servants, with the lowest-paid soldier now earning about Z$27-million while the lowest-paid school teacher now takes home about Z$33-million.
But the salaries are still way below the poverty datum line, which the government's Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says now stands at a staggering Z$42-million a month for an average family of six.
The Zimbabwe government often accuses the ZCTU, a strong ally of the MDC, of pushing a political agenda to remove Mugabe from power.
Meanwhile, Matombo and Lucia Matibenga retained their posts as president and first vice-president respectively during the ZCTU congress that ended on Saturday. -- ZimOnline