non Malawi news
- Aids report: The state we're in
Johannesburg, South Africa
06 July 2004 13:19
Life expectancy in Southern Africa, the world's hardest-hit region by Aids, has dropped to 49 and without large-scale treatment programmes it could plummet to below 35 in some countries, says a United Nations Aids report released on Tuesday.
Food shortages hitting at least six countries are also giving Aids a "magnifying effect", exacerbating problems surrounding poverty, the plight of women and the government's ability to respond, the report says.
On average, the prevalence rate in Southern Africa is about 25% with Aids and HIV affecting, in order of magnitude for 2003, 38,8% of adults in Swaziland, 37,3% in Botswana, 28,9% in Lesotho and 24,6% in Zimbabwe.
"In seven African countries where HIV prevalence exceeds 20%, the average life expectancy of a person born between 1995 and 2000 is now 49 years -- 13 years less than in the absence of Aids," says the UN's 2004 Global Report on Aids.
"In the worst-affected countries of eastern and Southern Africa the probability of a 15-year-old dying before reaching age 60 has risen dramatically," says the report, which is being released worldwide.
South Africa, which has the largest number of people living with Aids at 4,8-million, has a prevalence rate of 21,5% while 16,5% of adults are living with HIV and Aids in Zambia, 21,3% in Namibia, 14,2% in Malawi and 12,2% in Mozambique.
Infection rates are still climbing in some countries, the report says, adding that while HIV and Aids may appear to be making fewer inroads in others, that may be because the death rates conceal the continuing high rate of new infections.
"In Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the average life expectancy of people born over the next decade is projected to drop below 35 years in the absence of anti-retroviral treatment," the report adds.
"Unless the Aids response is dramatically strengthened, by 2025, 38 African countries will have populations which will be 14% smaller than predicted in the absence of Aids," the report says.
As in the rest of Africa, more women are living with HIV and Aids than men in Southern Africa, with 20 women affected for every 10 men in South Africa.
The UN report says a combination of factors are working in concert to fan the spread of Aids in Southern Africa.
"These factors include poverty and social instability that result in family disruption, high levels of other sexually transmitted infections, the low status of women, sexual violence and ineffective leadership during critical periods in the spread of HIV."
A food crisis in the region is also worsening the situation.
"In six of the 10 highest-prevalence countries -- Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe -- more than 15-million people required emergency food aid due to widespread chronic and acute food shortages," the report says.
Food shortages were triggered by adverse weather conditions and a "series of policy and governance-related failures that seriously affected food production".
"Aids made the situation worse," says the report, highlighting countries such as Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe where households with sick adults suffer "marked reductions in agricultural production and income generation".
The report says Aids has spread rapidly in many Southern African countries, including Swaziland where the average prevalence among pregnant women is 39% -- up from from 34% in 2000 and only 4% in 1990.
Only Angola appears to have been spared from the ravages of Aids with a prevalence rate of only 3,9% in 2003, up from 3,7% in 2001, the report said. -- Sapa-AFP
Africa 'should not pay its debts'
A special adviser to the United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan has said African countries should refuse to repay their foreign debts.
Mr Annan's economic adviser Jeffrey Sachs first called on developed countries to cancel Africa's debts.
But failing that, he said Africa should ignore its $201bn (£109bn) debt burden.
Economic analysis, he said, had shown that it was impossible for Africa to achieve its development goal of halving poverty if it had to repay the loans.
"The time has come to end this charade," he said.
"The debts are unaffordable. If they won't cancel the debts I would suggest obstruction; you do it yourselves."
'A serious response'
"Africa should stay: 'thank you very much but we need this money to meet the needs of children who are dying right now so we will put the debt servicing payments into urgent social investment in health, education, drinking water, control of aids and other needs,'" he told the BBC's World Business Report.
Mr Sachs insisted that such a response was serious and responsible, providing that the money was used transparently and channelled only into urgent social needs.
And he denied that it would bar African countries from accessing money from the capital markets in the future.
"They won't be able to access those markets anyway until the debt is forgiven, he explained, adding that there is no reason why they shouldn't be able to borrow again provided the forgiveness was negotiated in a cooperative manner.
Mr Sachs is special adviser to Kofi Annan on global anti-poverty targets.
He made his comments at a conference on the eve of a summit of the heads of state of the African Union in Ethiopia.
He called on the developed world to double aid to Africa to $120bn a year in order to meet commitments made in 1970.
There is some sympathy in some of the rich donor countries for the idea of debt cancellation.
The British Chancellor of the Exchequer or finance minister Gordon Brown, did float the idea before the recent summit of the G8 major powers in the United States, although there has been no decision and some creditor countries do have a history of reluctance on debt relief issues.
But none would be likely to welcome a unilateral decision by the poor countries themselves simply to stop paying their debts, which are owed mainly to international organisations such as the World Bank and to rich country governments.
Easing the water burden of Zambia's urban poor
06 July 2004 07:59
For Zambia's urban poor, accessing clean drinking water is a wearisome daily grind that takes up time and saps energy.
For thousands of residents in Kaloko, a shanty township on the southern outskirts of Ndola, in the central Copperbelt region, fetching water had meant waking up by 5am, a six kilometre roundtrip to the neighbouring township of Mushili, and a struggle to keep one's place in the queue at a rowdy communal tap.
Lillian Saidi is an extreme example of the price that water can cost. Two years ago, on her way back from Mushili, the widower met her neighbours heading to the police to report the death of her children in a fire accident. Saidi had left her four-year-old son and two-month-old daughter sleeping. She had also left a kerosene lamp lit so that the boy could attend to his sibling in case she woke up and needed attention.
"We had taps but water supply was erratic. We used to draw water at night or as early as four in the morning," Gwen Chola, another Kaloko resident recalled.
A new project, launched by the local municipality's Kafubu Water and Sewerage Company (KWSC), aims to ease the hardships of the 13 000-strong Kaloko community by making access to water easier through the construction of hygienic water "kiosks".
KWSC is a water utility formed following the merger of the local water and sewerage departments to improve service delivery. With support from the UK-based International Water Association (IWA), a global grouping of water professionals, it has embarked on a water reticulation project at a cost of K120-million ($25 223) for the construction of water kiosks where residents will buy water at a nominal fee of K2 (less than US 10 cents).
The kiosks, which include a tap connected to the municipality's water pipeline, are manned by a member of the community who fills the containers provided by the residents with water.
Six kiosks, commissioned early last year, have been constructed under phase one of the project.
"What we are witnessing today here in Kaloko is the first of its kind in the short history of the company since its inception two years ago. From the time we took over the running of the water and sewerage system in Ndola, Masaiti and Luanshya [towns in the Copperbelt], our aim has been to provide sufficient and high quality water and sewerage services on a sustainable commercial basis," KWSC managing director Richard Soko said.
Soko explained that instead of replacing the old system where people had to fight for water, the company decided to provide a system where people could draw water in a more hygienic and orderly environment. Kiosks have been preferred to the usual open communal taps to curb vandalism.
"Our major problem with open communal taps has been vandalism which has left water gushing out from the pipes 24 hours a day. The company has lost millions of Kwacha because of the supply system being vandalised," Soko said.
The project, if proved successful, will be replicated in other Ndola suburbs such as Kawama, Chipulukusu, and Kantolomba.
With the help of a grant of 68 000 from the Danish International Development Agency, KWSC will soon be constructing 19 water kiosks in Nkwazi, another shanty township in Ndola.
The project, under the National Water and Sanitation Council's Devolution Trust Fund, will help to provide water to the 45 000-strong Nkwazi population by the end of October. -- IRIN
Mugabe rules out talks with rival
President Robert Mugabe has said he will not hold talks with the main opposition party, as part of attempts to solve Zimbabwe's crisis.
He says the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is a "puppet" of the UK and insists on negotiations with the former colonial power.
A senior MDC official told the BBC that Mr Mugabe was trying to divert the focus from Zimbabwe's real problems.
South Africa has been trying to organise talks for more than a year.
Both the Commonwealth and the EU see talks between Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party and the MDC as a way to end Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis.
"We've always told them [African countries] that we cannot have serious discussions with the MDC," Mr Mugabe told Zanu-PF members in Harare, reported the state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper.
"And that is why we have always insisted that if there are any talks that need to be done, they have to be between the British and Zimbabwean governments," he said.
Last week, Zimbabwe's parliament adopted a motion calling for the MDC to be investigated for alleged treason, after British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the UK was "working closely" with the MDC.
Four MPs were thrown out of a stormy parliamentary debate, reports the state-owned Herald newspaper.
MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube told BBC News Online that this was part of Mr Mugabe's strategy to blame the problems in Zimbabwe on colonialism, rather than his own "misrule".
"Falling living standards, hunger and human rights violations are the real issues," Mr Ncube said.
He said they had been going "round in circles" on the issue of talks.
"The first thing South Africa must do is to stop protecting the Mugabe regime from those countries which are trying to put pressure on it," he said.
South Africa was standing up for Zimbabwe in international meetings, such as the UN human rights commission and meeting between African countries and the European Union, he said.
Last week, the spokesman for South African President Thabo Mbeki, Bheki Khumalo, said there would be no change in South Africa's strategy.
Mr Mbeki had set 30 June 2004 as the target for a breakthrough in Zimbabwe.
Although this deadline had been missed, Mr Khumalo said: "The [Zimbabwean] parties are now closer to one another than they've ever been."
African body condemns Zimbabwe
The African Union executive council has adopted a report highly critical of Zimbabwe's human rights record.
The report says there is evidence of human rights abuses by the police, and intimidation of the media and judiciary, and illegal land invasions.
Zimbabwean officials are reported to have been working hard to keep the report off the agenda of the African Union summit later this week.
African leaders have been reluctant to criticise openly President Robert Mugabe.
The BBC's Barnaby Phillips in Addis Ababa says it is not clear whether African leaders will endorse the report during this week's summit in the Ethiopian capital.
The report was written in 2002 but our correspondent says it is not clear why it is seeing the light of day now, nor who is pushing it into the public realm.
There are some signs that African leaders are more prepared to speak out and condemn abuses by their peers, representatives of African civil society and foreign observers say.
But our correspondent says a critical test of this will be the summit's position on Sudan's Darfur region.
Pro-government Arab militias are accused of "ethnic cleansing", forcing some one million people to flee their homes.
'Attempt to kill' Mugabe rival
Zimbabwe's opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he has survived an assassination attempt.
Axe-wielding assailants arrived in six trucks at a meeting Mr Tsvangirai was addressing on Friday in Mvurwi north of Harare, his MDC party says.
"Thank God none of them had guns," opposition MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi told BBC News Online.
Mr Tsvangirai escaped unhurt but 11 MDC youths were injured as they beat off the attackers, Mr Nyathi said.
Parliamentary polls are due to be held next March and the party fears it is the beginning of a violent election campaign.
- Zambia gains as Zimbabwe loses out
19 July 2004 13:51
As one gapes in awe from the Zambian side at the mighty Zambezi River
cascading over the Victoria Falls, roaring at a rate of about 900 cubic
metres per second, it is not difficult to understand why the locals
believe that the falls -- regarded as one of the seven natural wonders
of the world -- embody the soul of a powerful deity whom they refer to
And as one glances around at the growing number of foreign tourists --
a veritable mini league of nations -- also taking in this magnificent
sight, one cannot help but wonder whether this great river god is
perhaps not favouring the Zambians over their troubled Zimbabwean
While the Zambian hotels and resorts fronting the river and falls --
which form the border between the two countries once known as the
Rhodesias -- are teeming with tourists, it is relatively quiet on the
other side of the river.
"Zimbabwe's political and economic woes have benefited us
tremendously," explains one of the locals, adding that tourism has
probably been the biggest benefactor.
"Because of all the problems there, people are just too scared to go to
Zimbabwe these days, so they're coming here to Zambia instead.
"Not that it's really so bad in the tourist areas there. In fact,
they're relatively safe. But the perception exists that it's not a safe
place to go to, so the tourists are coming here instead. As a result,
tourism and the economy are really beginning to pick up here in Zambia,"
Evidence of this is reflected in the ubiquitous foreign-exchange
bureaux that dot the main streets of Livingstone and the growing number
of tourist resorts springing up in and around the former capital, which
is just a stone's throw from the almost 2km-wide falls the locals refer
to as Mosi-oa-Tunya -- "the mighty smoke that thunders", a reference to
the smoke-like spray rising hundreds of metres above the falls, which
can be seen from several kilometres away.
Not surprising, many of the tourist operators are Zimbabwean, many of
whom still live on the Zimbabwean side of the river in the town of
Victoria Falls, traversing the border back and forth at the start and
end of each day.
"It's ironic. A few years ago, Zambians were pouring into Zimbabwe to
look for work. Now it's the other way around," my self-appointed guide
"And agriculturally, we have also benefited. We have opened our doors
to many of the white Zimbabwean farmers who have been booted off their
land and have even allowed them to bring their Zimbabwean work forces
with them because we know that they will help boost our economy and
create more jobs in the long run," he adds.
Zambia's tobacco production is expected to reach about 18-million
kilograms this year compared with just seven million kilograms last year
and only three million kilograms in 2002 -- thanks chiefly, analysts
say, to the efforts of just 75 former Zimbabwean tobacco farmers, who
were apparently given farms by the Zambian government as well as 10-year
loans by a locally based foreign bank to buy farming equipment.
Zambia is also expecting a massive expansion in maize and wheat
The pick-up in tourism and the growth in agriculture after a severe
drought in 2002, which resulted in food shortages, is good news for an
economy that has long been overly dependent on mining.
While the country remains heavily dependent on copper and cobalt mining
-- boosted by the recent surge in the copper price -- and its efforts to
diversify its production base towards a bigger manufacturing sector have
not proved very successful, its economic growth is encouraging.
In 2002 Zambia's economy grew by 3,3% and in 2003 by 4,2%. This year,
it is expected to grow by 3,5% and next year by 4,5%.
Historically, Zambia has suffered from high inflation, which reached
hyper-inflationary levels in the early 1990s. But, in recent years, it
has fallen to more manageable levels, albeit -- as one analyst points
out -- just above 20%.
Encouragingly, the International Monetary Fund expects consumer
inflation to average 18,5% in 2004 and 17,5% in 2005. The Bank of
Zambia, the country's central banker, has set an ambitious year-end
target of 15%.
On the negative side, the country has suffered a persistent deficit on
the current account of the balance of payments. In 2003, the current
account deficit exceeded $600-million, according to the central bank.
Despite a booming copper price, the country registered a negative trade
balance of $242-million in 2003 -- essentially because of imports of
machinery and capital equipment for the mining industry and high oil
Zambian copper exports rose by 25,7% to $269,9-million in the second
quarter from the first quarter of this year. Despite the increase,
Zambia's foreign trade deficit rose to $86,8-million from $71,4-million
as the 11,4% rise in non-copper exports to $152,6-million failed to keep
pace with the 20,4% increase in imports to $509,3-million.
On the positive front, non-traditional exports, such as horticulture
and floriculture products, have risen over the past decade and now
represent an increasing share of the country's merchandise exports.
And earnings from tourism, which received a boost from the solar
eclipse in 2001, are expected to contribute strongly to future income --
thanks in large measure to Zimbabwe and its economic woes. -- I-Net
Heard the one about Zimbabwe's 'revival'?
20 July 2004 13:23
President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday declared that Zimbabwe was
undergoing an economic "revival" as he addressed the opening of the last
session of Parliament before key elections next year.
Mugabe arrived at the Parliament building in a chauffeur-driven Rolls
Royce under heavy police and army escort, and accompanied by his smartly
dressed wife Grace.
"We have money to reap a good harvest ... to ensure we meet our needs
and food requirements. What enhances this ... is the evident revival of
our economy," Mugabe told Parliament.
His statement stood in stark contrast to assessments by
non-governmental organisations and UN food agencies who say millions of
citizens, especially in rural areas, need urgent food aid.
The southern African country has been hit by consecutive drought
seasons but the situation has been exacerbated by Mugabe's controversial
land reform programme that saw most white farmers forcibly evicted from
Mugabe however said the land programme would continue.
"A number of issues related to land reform remain outstanding," he
"The demand for land remains and ongoing land acquisition should be
able to meet it.
"Government policy remains ... Whatever irregularities have occurred in
the process of land reform are now being attended to," Mugabe said.
At a state dinner on Monday night, Mugabe called on Parliament to be
"patriotic" and guard against outside interference, the state-owned
Herald newspaper reported on Tuesday.
"Never shall we allow foreigners to interfere in our domestic affairs
and the charter of the United Nations prohibits interference in the
affairs of another country.
"Parliament should be inspired by the patriotism that bids us to stand
up and say we will not accept this interference," Mugabe said. -
Zimbabwe targets aid groups
19 July 2004 09:34
Zimbabwe is threatening to close down non-governmental organisations
and arrest their employees if they do not obtain permission from the
government for their activities, the state-run Sunday Mail reported.
The paper said "quite a number" of NGOs had not registered for
government licences and were believed to be operating illegally and
engaging in political activities.
"Organisations found operating without being registered will be asked
to close down their operations or be arrested for failure to abide by
the law," the paper quoted an official in the public service ministry as
Under Zimbabwe's laws, all NGOs have to be registered under the Public
Voluntary Organisations Act.
The government is reported to be working on new legislation tightening
regulations for NGOs operating in the country amid allegations from the
ruling party that many organisations are involved in political
The Non-Governmental Organisations and Churches Bill, which has not yet
been presented to Parliament, aims to give the state powers to screen
NGOs operating in the country, according to the Sunday Mail.
Churches have also been accused of preaching opposition politics from
However, the newspaper said proposals to control churches was being
seen in some quarters as "an over-reaction" that would infringe on the
right of Zimbabweans to worship.
The government recently issued a notice to the hundreds of local and
international NGOs working in Zimbabwe warning them to stop operations
if they are not licenced.
"Failure to adhere to the law will result in arrests being made," reads
part of the notice, according to the newspaper.
Recent reports on state television and radio have been critical of the
work being done by some NGOs working in Zimbabwe and have said
Zimbabweans need to be "self-sufficient". - Sapa-AFP
Zimbabweans Struggle With Runaway Prices
By ANGUS SHAW
The Associated Press
Sunday, July 18, 2004; 5:49 PM
HARARE, Zimbabwe - Pensioners buy a single egg when they shop. School
attendance is falling because parents can't afford to feed their
children, let alone educate them. One desperate man who couldn't make
ends meet took his own life.
Runaway prices are changing, perhaps for generations, the way people
live and die in Zimbabwe, a once relatively prosperous nation now
ravaged by the world's highest inflation rate.
Economists and international donors say mismanagement by President
Robert Mugabe's authoritarian regime - especially economic disruption
related to his controversial policy of seizing white-owned farms - is
behind an annual inflation rate now close to 400 percent. The government
points the finger elsewhere, at culprits including falling commodity
Whatever the reason for the crisis, its human cost continues to rise.
Zimbabwe once boasted one of the best education systems in Africa. But
enrollment is down 30 percent since 2000, according to the United
Nations Children's Fund, because increasing numbers of children are
forced to work, beg or become prostitutes.
Mildred Chizema, a secretary, said she and her two children live on
what she calls the "zero, zero, one diet" - no breakfast, no lunch, and
one evening meal. She dreads staying home on weekends.
"The kids just gaze at me hoping for something more to eat," she said.
She earns the equivalent of about $75 a month. The Consumer Council of
Zimbabwe estimates an average family of four needs at least twice that
to provide for an adequate diet, basic shelter, clothing and food.
Salaries and pensions are being left behind by galloping prices.
Zimbabwe's official inflation rate was 394.6 percent in June. That's
down from a peak of 600 percent earlier this year but remains the
highest in the world, with Turkey a distant second at 60 percent, said
Harare economist John Robertson.
As recently as 1997, inflation in Zimbabwe was 18 percent.
With the help of white-owned commercial farms, Zimbabwe prospered and
developed into a regional breadbasket after Mugabe led the country to
independence from Britain in 1980. But the economy began to falter in
the late 1990s and has teetered near collapse since 2000, when political
violence and often-violent farm seizures disrupted agriculture and
The land seizures, coupled with erratic rains, have crippled Zimbabwe's
agricultural sector, which once accounted for a third of its
foreign-currency earnings. Unemployment is estimated at 70 percent.
The government blames declines in commodity prices, corruption in the
private sector and negative reporting by the international media, which
it says has led to the destruction of tourism.
Authorities say they are fighting hyperinflation by cracking down on
corruption and black-market currency sales. But analysts predict things
will get worse unless the government can reduce spending and reassure
"We cannot expect price increases to decline," Robinson said. "With
continuing foreign currency shortages, there will also be scarcities of
goods to drive up prices."
The very young and the very old are suffering the worst in Zimbabwe.
Doctors report increasing numbers of retirees are suffering from
vitamin deficiency because they can't afford fruit, a basket of which
can cost more than a monthly pension.
Those who retired a decade ago - when $1 bought seven Zimbabwe dollars
instead of 5,300 today - have seen the value of their pensions decline
at least twentyfold. For those who cannot afford a whole carton, food
stores will sell single egg - but even that costs about 1,000 Zimbabwe
dollars, or 20 cents, one-fifth of the average daily income.
A women's tennis club in Harare has begun delivering free meals to
One of the beneficiaries of the project, a widower, shot himself
earlier this year. He had worked for the government for 40 years
planning public works projects.
"After a long working life, he couldn't go on. His pride was hurt,"
said a family friend who asked not to identified.
Other countries such as Argentina that have experienced hyperinflation
brought prices down through fiscal discipline and devaluation, said
Robinson, the economist.
But Zimbabwe remains deep in the hole. It has been $290 million in
arrears to the International Monetary Fund since 2001 and risks being
expelled next year. The government has offered to pay $1.5 million a
- Poor Zambia postpones polls
Local elections in Zambia have been postponed because the government cannot afford to hold them.
The polls had been due in November but have been put back by two years.
Local Government Minister Sylvia Masebo said the $64m it would cost to stage the elections would be better spent on roads and hospitals.
Local councillors will now be elected in 2006, at the same time as the president and MPs, after parliament voted to approve the postponement.
Holding elections together would save money, Ms Masebo said.
The main opposition United Party for National Development voted against the postponement, saying it was done in "bad faith".
The last local elections were held in 2001, at the same time as parliamentary and presidential elections, won by President Levy Mwanawasa.
Zimbabwe police arrest six white farmers
27 August 2004 12:12
advertisementZimbabwe police have arrested six white commercial farmers in the northern tobacco growing district of Karoi, about 260km north of Harare.
Police said the farmers had defied government orders to leave their farms with immediate effect.
"Most of these farmers own more than one farm and they have been asked to surrender the other farms and remain with only one," said a police statement.
Meanwhile, the country's Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU), which represents most white farmers, said it did not know if its members had been arrested.
"All I know is that one of them, Jan Kageler, was barricaded into his home twice last week by war veterans," said CFU regional director Ben Kaschula.
"He has an expired order to leave his farm, but now has permission to farm 250ha and surrender the rest," Kaschula added.
The CFU said attacks against the few remaining white farmers in the district had been coordinated by one self-styled war veteran, despite orders from senior government officials to allow the farmers to continue farming.
Efforts to contact the arrested farmers and their families were fruitless. -- Sapa
Zimbabwe 'monitors' foreign embassies
26 August 2004 13:29
advertisementZimbabwean intelligence agencies are "monitoring" cash flows to some foreign embassies in the country, according to a newspaper report on Thursday.
Speaking to Zimbabwe's weekly Financial Gazette newspaper, the ruling Zanu-PF secretary for external affairs, Didymus Mutasa, said: "Our intelligence arms are taking care of the situation on the ground. We are keeping our eyes open."
According to the newspaper, the monitoring is to identify diplomatic missions suspected of funding the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
"Embassies must remember that they are here because we want to strengthen our friendship. We do not go to their countries to meddle. It is better for the Americans to concentrate on regime change in their own country, which is the worst, than to come here and talk about regime change," Mutasa was quoted as saying.
The newspaper said that the investigation came after the government decided that the opposition should be bankrupt after all the legal challenges it has mounted to contest the elections that it claims were rigged.
However, it still appears to have money in its coffers.
MDC spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi said: "No money is given to us by foreigners. This is a fact and Zanu-PF knows it ... We get our money from local supporters and from the Political Parties Finance Act."
On Wednesday, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw -- who is visiting Cape Town -- dismissed claims that his government supports the MDC.
"We don't support any particular political party in Zimbabwe ... We don't support any political party anywhere in the world," he said.
Straw said a total of £45-million (about R539-million) is available to fund land reform in Zimbabwe should a solution be found to the political and economic crisis in that country. -- Sapa
Loughty Dube | Harare
27 August 2004 11:03
advertisementWith the 2005 parliamentary election in Zimbabwe beckoning, never has the Matabeleland region witnessed so many promises of development from President Robert Mugabe's government.
Development projects worth about a trillion-Zimbabwean dollars have been promised. The Matabeleland region, that seems to have been forgotten by the government in the past 24 years, has suddenly been rediscovered as President Mugabe's Zanu-PF party goes on a massive drive to win votes.
The sleepy town of Lupane, the proposed capital of Matabeleland North, is a hive of activity. The town was recently was accorded provincial capital status after former governor Welshman Mabhena opted for Hwange as the provincial capital.
Just a stone's throw from the home of the late Movement for Democratic Change member of Parliament for Lupane, David Mpala, bulldozers and earthmovers are tearing at the earth in preparation for the construction of a dam to supply the town with drinking water.
The dam is expected to cost over Z$300-million.
According to the government, Matabeleland will soon realise the fruits of the long-promised Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP) and the upgrading of Tsholotsho and the Kezi roads, while Lupane will boast a fully-fledged university, a state-of-the-art provincial hospital, a provincial police headquarters, recreational facilities, a bank and an upmarket hotel.
The MZWP has been on the drawing board since 1912 and is expected to cost about Z$150-billion to complete.
Mugabe was in Lupane last week to launch the site where hundreds of homes for civil servants will be constructed.
The government is expected to fork out Z$250-million in infrastructural development for the centre.
The ambitious water project has remained rooted in the planning stages and the Zanu-PF government has used it as an electioneering tool for a long time.
The government has promised to spend Z$150-billion on the proposed Lupane state university which is to have its first intake in September.
"The people of Matabeleland will always remain sceptical about the intentions behind these development projects," said Gorden Moyo, a commentator from the Bulawayo Dialogue institute.
"If the government is genuine then we should see the projects going on even when Zanu-PF loses the election next year."
Moyo said the Matabeleland water project had always been Zanu-PF's election trump card.
"Similarly, the government has been using the land issue for the last 20 years but would shelve the idea once the elections were over. Zanu-PF history tells us that we should be sceptical of them."
Other projects in the offing include the construction of a hotel in Tsholotsho.
A hotel group says it was invited by Information Minister Jonathan Moyo to construct the hotel. Moyo has been donating generously in the area where he wants to stand as a member of Parliament next year.
In July, Moyo poured more than Z$100-million in the space of one week into Tsholotsho. He also donated Z$125-million to various institutions.
In the second week of July, Moyo donated more than 700 blankets worth Z$90-million to several health institutions and a day later donated two computers and a printer worth Z$22,1-million to Tsholotsho hospital. A few days later the minister donated a computer and printer worth Z$13-million to Tsholotsho police.
Moyo has also donated medical equipment worth Z$28-million and 1 000 bags of cement worth Z$40-million to various institutions in the constituency. - Zimbabwe Independent
Jonathan Moyo in farm row
Dumisani Muleya and Gift Phiri | Harare
27 August 2004 13:30
advertisementControversy surrounding Zimbabwean Information Minister Jonathan Moyo's purchase of the Patterson farm in the Mazowe district has deepened amid disclosures that he violated government policy and set a bad precedent for land reform.
Moyo is also entangled in a row over the subdivision of a farm in Hwange where illegal poaching is reported to be rampant.
Sources said Moyo's acquisition of the Patterson had caused ructions in government circles and fuelled current tussles over land among top ruling Zanu PF officials.
Moyo's move was "fundamentally improper", sources said, because it breached government policy. The Cabinet has taken a decision to ban the sale of state land.
Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement Permanent Secretary Simon Pazvakavambwa said state land could not be sold or bought.
"As a matter of policy nobody can buy or sell state land," he said.
However, official records show that Moyo bought the Patterson farm, described in Agriculture minister Joseph Made's offer letter dated November 30 2001 as state land, for a mere Z$6-million.
Documents show that Moyo wrote a Jewel Bank cheque at the Westgate branch on July 22, 2002 as payment for the farm.
The payment followed a letter written by agriculture permanent secretary Ngoni Masoka on April 29 2002 to Moyo informing him about the cost of the land and improvements.
Sources said the Z$6-million which Moyo paid to Made's ministry was still in the government's suspense account because "it had no verifiable destination".
The sources said it could not have been possible for Moyo to buy the farm given that he has no lease agreement and that the property's acquisition had not, in any case, been confirmed by the administrative court.
As a result, the title deeds for the farm -* which Moyo initially wanted to buy for a paltry Z$1,8 million -* are still with the farm's legal owner, a company run by a trust.
Meanwhile, official documents show Lot 2 of Dete -* where widespread poaching has been reported -* was offered to Moyo by Made on July 19 2002 although a company called Eternity Trading is said to be operating there now. While the firm has been linked to Moyo, he has denied any interest in the farm saying it was owned by his cousin, a Jackie Meyers. But government recently withdrew the farm from Moyo whom it said owned it.
The farm has a 32 bedroomed top-of-the-range lodge, Sikumi Tree Lodge, which is an ecotourism facility that offers upmarket accommodation and photographic safaris to tourists.
The farm, which is the subject of a legal wrangle, is owned by Lions Den Enterprises which was run by Buck de Fries and his family. The lodge was leased by the Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG), which has tried to prevent Moyo from taking it over.
RTG, in which the government has a 17% stake, wanted Lot 2 occupiers out as it claimed they were disrupting tourism activities. Moyo, who has threatened to sue the Zimbabwe Independent over his farm interests, has been linked to other farms but he has denied any connection. - Zimbabwe Independent
- Antibiotic hope for children with Aids
19 November 2004 07:13
Deaths among children infected with HIV in Africa could be almost halved if all those with symptoms were put on a simple, cheap and readily available antibiotic, new research has established.
The positive results of a study of children in Zambia, carried out by the British Medical Research Council (MRC) and funded by the Department for International Development, are a rare breath of hope in the pandemic.
While the antibiotic, called co-trimoxazole, will not prevent children eventually developing Aids, it could give many of them extra years of healthy life before they need the powerful and toxic anti-retroviral drugs that suppress HIV in the blood.
"This is a breakthrough in medical research which can help to save children's lives all over the world," Hilary Benn, the international development secretary, said on Thursday.
"Each day as many as 1 300 children die from HIV and Aids-related illnesses globally. The trial ... has shown how this widely available, affordable antibiotic drug can almost halve child deaths by warding off potentially fatal illnesses in children whose immune systems are weakened because of HIV."
The results of the trial, published in this week's Lancet medical journal, have persuaded the World Health Organisation and Unicef to change their policies and recommend the use of co-trimoxazole in all children with HIV.
In the study, 541 children aged between one and 14 were given the antibiotic or a placebo. The trial was stopped early when it became clear that substantially fewer children on the antibiotic were dying. After 19 months, 74 (28%) children on co-trimoxazole had died, compared with 112 (42%) of those on the placebo.
All those who took part are now taking co-trimoxazole.
People infected with HIV usually die of the infections that the body cannot fight off because the virus has destroyed their immune system. The antibiotic appears to keep the infections at bay.
Di Gibb of the MRC, who led the trial, said the drug was cheap and widely available -- the researchers had got their supplies from a local generics company in Lusaka.
"It could be dispensed right down at the grassroots level," Dr Gibb said. "Any child we think has HIV and has symptoms should go on it."
She said the children suffered no ill-effects from the antibiotic. "I think they could take it really for quite a long time." - Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004
Mozambique: Elections Overshadowed By Memories of War
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
November 18, 2004
Posted to the web November 18, 2004
Joaquim Chissano, president of Mozambique since 1986, is to step down following presidential and parliamentary elections that are still overshadowed by memories of the civil war between the FRELIMO government and the former rebel movement, RENAMO.
Due to the two-term limit imposed on the presidency by the post-war constitution, the ruling FRELIMO candidacy passes to Armando Guebuza, who was the party's chief negotiator at the 1990 Rome peace talks that ended the 16-year war. Afonso Dhlakama, a veteran leader of RENAMO, will be contesting his third presidential poll on 1-2 December.
"Party dynamics are very slow - it can take 15 or 20 years to find a new leader," said Inacio Chire, a political analyst at Eduardo Mondlane University.
"The war factor is still significant in the collective consciousness, but this is the last opportunity that this generation has. Without having anything against them, it's time for some new tendencies, new philosophies, within the parties."
On the streets of the capital Maputo, too, people still cite memories of the war as the main factor influencing which party they will vote for.
"We spent a long time in the war, and FRELIMO survived," said 31-year-old secretary Fatima Paruque. "FRELIMO didn't make war - it was RENAMO that wanted war and not dialogue. FRELIMO has continued the policy of a minimum wage, built houses, and helped the victims of the floods and the war."
Others pointed to corruption. "The government is stealing, and only a few people are benefiting from the country's growth," said Chinho, a 27-year-old unemployed graduate in Chamanculo, a run-down neighbourhood adjacent to central Maputo.
"We need international observers," Chinho added. "As things are at the moment, the government can alter the final result, and they don't want to hand over [power] to another party."
A total of eight presidential candidates and 25 parties and coalitions are standing for election.
Considered to have the best prospects of breaking the bipartisan pattern of post-war politics is the Peace, Democracy and Development Party (PDD), which also has links to the war era: its leader and presidential candidate is Raul Domingos, who was formerly RENAMO's number two, and Guebuza's opposite number at the Rome peace talks.
Most analysts believe the PDD has a realistic chance of breaking through the threshold of 5 percent of the parliamentary vote needed to send a representative to the national assembly, and predict that the PDD's showing is likely to be strongest in RENAMO's traditional north-central stronghold. Domingos commands the same ethnic and regional loyalties as RENAMO, but is widely thought of as a more able and charismatic politician than his former boss, Dhlakama.
A Guebuza victory is likely to result in changes in the style rather than the substance of leadership.
"Every presidential candidate makes promises to the party, so it is the party which determines policy," said Manuel Tome, who heads FRELIMO's parliamentary bench. "But there may be changes in style - Guebuza is very quick to make things happen and to take decisions; Chissano was unbelievably patient."
Eight million Mozambicans are registered to vote, including unknown numbers of dead citizens who have not been removed from the voters' roll. But National Electoral Commission (CNE) spokesman Felipe Mandlate dismissed the possibility that this could lead to electoral fraud.
"Voters' cards are issued to individuals to provide security. Each person has to identify himself, and an ink mark on the finger prevents people from voting more than once," he said.
Those who are eligible will vote at 60,000 polling stations spread throughout a vast country with limited road infrastructure. Local and foreign observers may monitor every stage of the vote counting, from the opening of the ballot boxes to the delivery of results to the counting centres in the provincial capitals.
Former US president Jimmy Carter will lead a delegation of observers from his Atlanta-based Carter Center. The European Union, which is contributing -12 million (US $15.6 million) to funding the election, is also sending a team, while a coalition called the Electoral Observatory will coordinate monitoring by Mozambican civil society groups.
Controversy continues over the CNE's refusal to allow monitoring of the final process of tabulation and verification of the results from polling stations, which takes place in the provincial capitals and then in Maputo.
Mandlate told IRIN that the CNE's position reflected current national legislation and was not negotiable, but all the observer groups insist that dialogue is continuing, and have expressed confidence that an acceptable solution will be found.
Reaping profits from hard ground
BBC News in Nampula
A few cents more a kilo doesn't sound very much, but to farmers in rural Mozambique it can be life changing.
Since joining a farmers' association in 1996, Antonio Guillerme has made enough money to buy a radio, a bicycle, clothes for his wife and to send his children to school.
While his house does not have a steel roof, it is better than the one he had before.
Farmers in rural Africa frequently complain of being ripped off by middlemen, and their small plots, a few acres each, mean it is difficult to have a voice with buyers who want both volume and quality. But Mr Guillerme is one of thousands of farmers in northern Mozambique to have benefited from an aid project called Clusa which put them in associations, increasing their bargaining power and linking them with buyers.
United in strength
Clusa began work in 1995 in Nampula, one of the country's poorest provinces, where there are few formal job opportunities. There are now some 800 associations, with 25 to 30 farmers each, and anecdotal evidence and surveys suggest that association members have seen their incomes rise.
Billions of dollars are spent on aid projects every year, most of it Western taxpayers' money, and critics argue that there is often little to show for it. If Clusa is a success, how has it done it?
Its donors include USAID, Oxfam, the European Union, the Japanese government, the Mozambican government and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation.
It has attracted close to $7m (£3.7m) since 2001, the bulk of which was from USAID, a reminder of the fact that aid does not come cheap and that one high-profile donor can lead to the cooperation of another.
Crucially, Clusa started to plan a handover almost as soon as it began.
In a small office behind the Clusa building is Ikuru, an organisation partly-owned by the farmers.
In time, this farmer-run organisation will carry out much of Clusa's work, Ikuru's manager Clusa Raposo says.
If this transition does work, then it will signal the project's success, as it will have continued after the original backers have ended their involvement.
One of the biggest challenges facing the aid industry is to create sustainable projects which can thrive without outsider financial support.
Trainers came from within the community and set up demonstration plots to show farmers how it was done.
Effort was made to ensure all farmers got involved in the association, to the extent of teaching members to read and write.
High levels of illiteracy meant control of the association's finances and administration could have been concentrated in the hands of a few, Alvara da Graca da Fonseca Veloso, the deputy director of the project, said.
The farmers signed the contract, saw the produce weighed and got the agreed money. The end result was that - in stark contrast to unsuccessful aid projects elsewhere - the farmers controlled the associations, Mr Raposo says.
Cutting out the middleman
And the buyers are happy too.
Antonio Filipe Miranda buys about 10% of the cashew nuts he needs for his processing factory from these farmers' associations.
"It is no good to negotiate with someone who is weak and has poor quality, the intention is to negotiate with someone who has quality, volume and who can understand business," he says.
The farmers' associations borrow money from microfinance institutions and much of this flows through Gapi, a development finance institution.
Gapi's regional director Gilberto da Silva Miranda says that about 98% of the money has been paid back. Under this system of solidarity credit, if one farmer cannot meet his share, then the others have to cough up.
"Even without guarantees, they managed to pay much better than people with ties and shoes," he says.
There is still plenty of work to be done.
The farmers want to make more money and buyer Mr Miranda wants to be able to buy in bulk.
Most small holdings are scattered, with farmers owning half an acre here and half an acre there - a difficult environment in which to increase output.
Gapi says it is risky to lend money to farmers to increase production, preferring to lend money to hire a truck to deliver their produce or employ workers instead.
Taking Nampula's farmers to the next step will not be easy, but a foundation has been put in place.
What happens next will testify to the strength of that foundation.
Tsvangirai branded 'state enemy number one'
President Robert Mugabe's government has labelled opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai as state enemy number one, the official Zimbabwe media reported on Thursday.
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa also issued a veiled threat of unspecified action to be taken against Tsvangirai, the head of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), when he returns from a lengthy international tour.
Chinamasa was quoted in the state-controlled daily Herald newspaper as telling Parliament on Wednesday that Tsvangirai was the government's worst enemy for lobbying for sanctions on his fellow countrymen.
"I can't think of any other description other than to say state enemy number one," he said.
"If Mr Tsvangirai called for sanctions, I don't expect he would want to return to this country," he added, without elaborating.
The former national trade union leader has been on an international tour for nearly three weeks. Government officials returned his passport after his acquittal on treason charges last month.
A campaign of smart sanctions against Mugabe and his political inner circle began in 2001 in retaliation against the Zimbabwe government's violent repression of its opponents and the lawless seizure of white-owned farm land.
The United States, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland banned Mugabe and senior ruling party and government officials from travelling to their countries, and from holding bank accounts there. There are also bans on arms supplies to Zimbabwe.
Tsvangirai was banned from travelling for two years when he was forced to surrender his passport for the length of the treason trial in which he was accused of plotting to assassinate 80-year-old Mugabe. The judge said the state had provided no evidence to support the charges.
He left Harare on October 23 for talks with Southern African leaders, flew on to West Africa where he met the leaders of Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana and Burkina Faso, and then to Europe. He was reported on Wednesday to be in Sweden from where he will go on to Denmark, Norway and The Netherlands. He was also due to meet European Union leaders and the EU secretariat.
In London, he would address members of the estimated 1,2-million Zimbabwean diaspora who had fled economic collapse and political repression to live in Britain.
MDC deputy Secretary General Gift Chimanikire said the party wanted to explain their view of the democratisation of Zimbabwe and the need for the restoration of the rule of law.
Tsvangirai has also been urging international leaders to force Mugabe to stick to internationally accepted guidelines for parliamentary elections set for March next year.
Tsvangirai was widely regarded as the winner of presidential elections in 2002, but Mugabe won with 1,5-million votes against Tsvangirai's 1,1-million. Independent observers, including the Commonwealth, dismissed Mugabe's win as the result of violent intimidation. - Sapa-DPA
- MDC cries foul after counting votes
Terry Leonard | Johannesburg, South Africa
06 April 2005 12:26
Zimbabwe's main opposition party said on Wednesday an investigation
into last week's parliamentary election indicates massive electoral
fraud in at least 30 seats won by the ruling Zanu-PF party.
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said in 11
races the winning Zanu-PF candidate got more votes in the official
returns than the government's own electoral commission said were cast in
In each case, the MDC said its candidate had an unassailable lead,
polling more than half the official total of votes cast.
However, the official returns showed 183 000 more votes than the
electoral commission said were cast.
"This election was stolen. The results are in no way an accurate
reflection of the sovereign wishes of the people of Zimbabwe," MDC
spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi said in a statement.
President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party was declared the winner of 78
of Parliament's 120 elected seats. The MDC got 41 seats and one seat
went to an independent candidate, former information minister Jonathan
Moyo. Under Zimbabwe law, Mugabe appoints another 30 MPs.
Nyathi said the MDC limited its analysis to the 30 seats because the
electoral commission refused to release figures for other races, a
decision he said "indicates widespread irregularities" in those other
In races in urban areas where the MDC was widely expected to hold its
seats, Nyathi said very few discrepancies were identified.
"This raises further suspicions that there was a calculated plan to
ensure that the MDC won a sufficient number of seats to provide the
electoral process, and the end result, with a veneer of legitimacy,"
The MDC comparison of official final returns in the 30 races with the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's official numbers for votes cast found
what Nyathi called "serious and unaccountable gaps" between the two
figures. In the 30 races alone, if found it could not account for more
than 183 000 ballots.
Nyathi said the preliminary findings have been submitted to observer
missions from South Africa and the Southern African Development
"Regrettably, these observer missions have so far shown a chronic lack
of interest in such compelling statistics and instead have maintained
their respective positions that the elections reflected the 'will of the
people'," said Nyathi.
South Africa's mission endorsed the election despite serious objections
of some mission members. South African President Thabo Mbeki, government
officials and some observers had said ahead of the poll they saw no
reason why it would not be free and fair.
The United States and Britain, which were not among the observers
hand-picked by Mugabe to assess the election, condemned the vote and
said the process had been tilted heavily in favour of the ruling party.
Both countries participated in the diplomatic observer mission in
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the elections "were
fundamentally flawed and further weaken Mugabe's legitimacy".
"Some say this is about Africa versus the West. It is not," said Straw.
"It is about democracy versus dictatorship. Other Africans, too, have
been saying enough is enough." -- Sapa-AP
Zanu-PF threatens to seize companies
Michael Hartnack | Harare, Zimbabwe
06 April 2005 02:26
President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party has threatened to seize
commercial companies it says are trying to provoke food riots in the
wake of last week's parliamentary elections.
"Some of the manufacturers could have unilaterally increased prices
with the ulterior motive of inducing people to blame the government and
trigger food riots," the head of the party's women's league, Nyasha
Chikwinya, said in an article published on Wednesday in the state-owned
daily newspaper, The Herald.
Trade Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi issued a statement saying
manufacturers and retailers who had raised prices of staples such as
sugar, salt, soap and cooking oil by up to 25% since the March 31 poll
"should revert to previous levels because the increases were not
"We have been understudying the running of the companies from the days
of  food riots and shortages. Enough is enough. This cannot go on
any longer," said Chikwinya.
In 2002, reacting to foreign pressure, the government stopped militants
from invading companies after the seizure of 5 000 white-owned farms.
Some of the invaded premises belonged to South African subsidiaries,
protected by international investment agreements.
The government has been failing for months to set new maximum prices in
the face of hyperinflation, which reached 620% last year before falling
back to an official 127% in March -- a figure many economists question.
Despite the country's chronic economic problems, with 70% unemployment
and 3,8-million of Zimbabwe's 11,6-million population now living abroad,
Zanu-PF claimed 78 parliamentary seats in last week's elections,
compared to 41 for the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
With Mugabe nominating a further 30 in the 150-seat parliament, he may
now amend the constitution at will.
Chikwinya said that under Zanu-PF management of the seized companies,
"we will produce good results and shame our detractors".
Appealing for an end to panic buying and hoarding, Mumbengegwi said
temporary absence of maize meal from stores was a result of temporary
"logistical problems" and "millers were now bringing the situation under
Mugabe (81), in power since the country won independence from Britain
in 1980, alleges Zimbabwe's economic problems stem from British
reprisals for his "fast track" redistribution of former white farms. But
critics say he has undermined production and exports, using agitation
for land reform as a smoke screen to intimidating opposition.
On the eve of the elections, his government raised the national
statutory minimum wage tenfold to Z$950,000 (about R128) a month, a move
unions predicted would lead to increased unemployment and illicit use of
child labour. -- Sapa-AP
Political violence shakes up Zanzibar
06 April 2005 11:11
Arsonists set fire to a Zanzibari opposition leader's home and
protesters attempted to raid a voter registration centre, as violence
flared months ahead of elections in the semi-autonomous archipelago.
The Zanzibar Electoral Commission suspended a voter registration drive
on Monday in Zanzibar town, the Indian Ocean archipelago's biggest town,
to try to calm rising tensions between ruling and opposition party
loyalists. The drive had begun on Sunday.
General elections in predominantly Muslim Zanzibar are scheduled for
October 23, and the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi, or Revolutionary Party,
is expected to face a stiff challenge from the opposition Civic United
Front. The ruling party labels opposition supporters Muslim
secessionists, while the opposition says the ruling party represents
only the interests of the mainland, which is largely Christian and
But suspending the registration drive appeared to do little to ease
tensions, and early on Tuesday, attackers used gasoline to set fire to
the home of Civic United Front leader Abbas Muhunzi, said George
Kizugutu, a senior police officer.
Muhunzi, his wife and five children escaped unhurt, although his
elderly father was beaten by assailants with iron bars. Neighbours said
the attackers were youths who wore red T-shirts and black trousers.
"It seems now Zanzibar is experiencing a kind of political bonfire,"
said Muhunzi, a member of Zanzibar's House of Representatives. He
appealed to the government to intervene and end "political thuggery" in
Zanzibar before "things get out of control".
Later on Tuesday, more than 400 people attempted to invade a suburban
registration centre, but were beaten back by police, said Rashid Ali
Suluhu, an election officer.
Police were investigating the attempted arson and remained on "alert"
on Tuesday night, setting up roadblocks in some areas.
Zanzibar, which united with the mainland to form the United Republic of
Tanzania in 1964, elects its own president and legislature.
The last vote, in 2000, was marred by irregularities, voter
intimidation and politically motivated violence.
Ruling and opposition party supporters have since become decidedly more
militant, with the government creating paramilitary militias to ensure
order and the opposition reportedly establishing "self-defence forces."
In recent months, six people have been killed in political violence.
Riot police have taken to marching through Zanzibar town, singing
martial songs in a show of force they say is meant to deter political
violence, but opposition leaders see as an attempt to intimidate their
The police were recently deployed from mainland Tanzania, where most
people are Christian. -- Sapa-AP
Mozambique: New Cholera Vaccine Shows Promise
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
April 5, 2005
Posted to the web April 5, 2005
The success of the first mass immunisation campaign against cholera in
Mozambique's port city of Beira has prompted calls for greater access to
the oral vaccine.
From December 2003 to January 2004 about 50,000 residents in the poor
district of Esturro received two successive weekly doses of the oral
cholera vaccine, rBS-WC.
Researchers then assessed the effectiveness of the vaccine during an
outbreak in Beira between January and May 2004 and found that it was
highly effective, protecting between 78 and 84 percent of the recipients
from cholera for six months, with 50 percent being protected for three
Needle-administered cholera vaccines have generally provided about 50
percent protection for just two months. None of the 20 people who died
during the outbreak had received the vaccine.
Cholera is endemic in Mozambique and during the rainy season the cities
of Maputo and Beira are usually worst affected.
Researchers noted that while similar studies carried out in Bangladesh
and Peru had shown promise, the Mozambique trial was the first to target
a population with high HIV prevalence - around 30 percent. They inferred
from their findings that the vaccine could be effective in people with
the HI virus.
The high cost of the vaccine - US $2 per dose - and a lack of evidence
that it would work in people whose immune systems were compromised by
HIV had previously deterred researchers from using the new vaccine in
"The oral cholera vaccine could be an important tool for Mozambique in
the next two to three years, particularly in areas where populations are
at high risk of cholera, and where there is a high prevalence of people
living with HIV/AIDS. It can give these people new hope," coordinator of
the trials Marcelino Lucas told IRIN.
However, Lucas pointed out the study had not included HIV testing and
further research and monitoring was needed to assess the safety of the
vaccine among HIV-positive people.
Although cholera awareness campaigns are instrumental in preventing the
spread of the disease, they have had a limited impact because of poor
access to proper sanitation facilities and clean water.
The cholera bacterium, spread mainly through contaminated water or
food, causes severe diarrhoea and dehydration. Epidemics are linked to
poor hygiene, overcrowding, inadequate sanitation and unsafe water.
Despite government efforts, around 74 percent of Mozambique's rural
population does not have access to safe drinking water; access to
potable water in urban areas is slightly better, but more than half the
people living in towns and cities are without adequate sanitation.
Lucas said financing a sustainable supply of the vaccine was critical,
as the success of oral vaccines in Mozambique meant that much-needed
resources, previously spent on caring for the sick, could instead be
used for strengthening cholera prevention measures.
- Reports deepen doubt over Zim election
07 April 2005 08:10
Two reports issued on Wednesday reinforced concern that Zimbabwe
President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party won last week's
parliamentary election through fraud.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change
gave evidence of what it said was "serious and unaccountable gaps" with
more than 200 000 votes unaccounted for in the announcement of official
results before and after counting ballots last week.
Another report by 35 teams of observers from the United States embassy
said there were "several patterns of irregularities" that raised concern
about the freeness and fairness of the process.
It spoke of the "improper role" of uniformed police and ruling-party
polling agents in the supervision and conduct of polling stations,
taking control from officials of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
(ZEC), which was supposed to run the elections.
Police and Zanu-PF polling agents were counting votes in polling
stations and communicating results to regional centres, and presiding
officers confiscated notes from MDC polling agents and independent
observers, it said.
Some polling stations were "associated with the distribution of food",
Zanu-PF was given 78 seats in Parliament, while 41 went to the MDC. An
independent, former information minister Jonathan Moyo, got one seat.
With another unelected 30 seats appointed by Mugabe through a
constitutional provision, the ruling party received a landslide of more
than two-thirds of the 150-seat Parliament.
The poll has been condemned by United Nations Secretary General Kofi
Annan as well as the United States, British and Australian governments,
but it was pronounced "the legitimate expression of the will of the
people of Zimbabwe" by observer delegations from South Africa and the
14-nation Southern African Development Community.
Also on Wednesday, the MDC said "scores of party supporters had been
injured, some of whom were in hospital, after winning Zanu-PF led their
supporters in attacks of retribution around the country".
Nyathi said in a statement that MDC supporters had been attacked in at
least five constituencies, in one of which a Zanu-PF MP opened fire with
a pistol on a group, several people had their property destroyed by mobs
and at least one had his home burnt down.
MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube said copies of the MDC's
preliminary report on the discrepancies in voting numbers, as well of
videotapes of official election announcements on state television and in
copies of a local newspaper, were given on Wednesday morning to the ZEC,
which is appointed by Mugabe.
Late on Thursday night while votes were still being counted, a senior
ZEC official broadcast the total number of ballots cast in 72
constituencies. The announcements stopped at about midnight without
The next morning, however, the ZEC began broadcasting the results of
the count. Immediately, discrepancies emerged when the number of votes
for each candidate were added together and compared with the figures of
a few hours earlier.
"The MDC and the people know full well who the real winners are," said
MDC spokesperson Paul Nyathi. "This election was stolen." -- Sapa-DPA
Illegal Gun Manufacture Flourishing in Tanzania
The East African (Nairobi)
April 4, 2005
Posted to the web April 6, 2005
In spite of the restriction put on the manufacture of firearms in
Tanzania, authorities said last week that they have established that
illegal manufacturing, especially of handmade "Gobore guns" has been
The EastAfrican learnt that, up to 1967, muzzle-loading guns commonly
known as Gobore were being legally manufactured. Currently, Tanzania
does not manufacture firearms and does not provide firearms
manufacturing licenses, but it produces ammunition at Mzinga, in
"But the situation has changed in that, illicit manufacturing has been
going on and the quality of the Gobore gun has improved to a standard
that it can now use modern types of ammunition, said Dominic Hayuma,
senior assistant commissioner of police and also the co-ordinator of
Tanzania's national focal point on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW).
He however did not say in which parts of the country these guns were
being manufactured or how many were in the country.
Authorities have, however, recovered some Gobores.
Experts say Tanzania needs to change legislation relating to Gobores to
conform to international conventions, and to transfer administrative
procedures of handling and controlling muzzle-loading guns from local
governments, which have failed to keep records and control the illicit
circulation of the guns to the police.
Tanzania has since 2001 destroyed 5,773 firearms recovered in five
locations across the country. The destruction includes burning the
firearms and cutting the metal part into pieces using a gun cruncher.
"In future, we intend to destroy the firearms in the region where we
find them," said Mr Hayuma, adding, "We will be visiting all regions and
destroying all confiscated guns there, because we are now equipped with
the necessary facilities."
Between 1995 and 2000, the Tanzania police was recovering an average of
400 firearms annually. But after the establishment of a national action
plan in 2001 to fight illicit arms - a plan that involved security
agencies, civil society and the public - recoveries have risen to as
high as 1,743 arms. Mbeya, Rukwa, Kagera and Kigoma are among the most
"Most of the illicit firearms that have been recovered are suspected to
have been brought into the country by refugees from Congo, Burundi and
Rwanda but some guns were brought in during the war with Idi Amin and
during the Mozambique liberation war," said Mr Hayuma.
Some firearms have been reportedly recovered from Somali poachers in
national parks in the north of the country.
In 2003, a non-governmental organisation Foundation Help issued a
report saying there was noticeable growth in the number of small arms
around Lake Victoria, especially on the Tanzanian side, "but these are
frequently in the wrong hands".
The report says that,in the Lake Victoria region of Tanzania, 75 per
cent of the illegal firearms come from the Democratic Republic of the
Congo, Burundi and Rwanda. "Most of the weapons come through Mwanza
airport, which acts as a conduit of arms. The planes that collect fish
for export in places like Russia, Ukraine and South Africa also bring in
small firearms on board," said the report, quoting an International
Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) participants' survey in the
Mwanza acting Police Commander Goodluck Mongi was not available for
comment. However, a senior police officer in Mwanza disputed the claims.
He said the main source of firearms in Tanzania were the war-torn
countries of DRC and Burundi.
Mwanza airport manager Deogratius Malongo disputed the allegations.
"They need to substantiate their claims, because we have never come
across any plane from Russia, Ukraine or South Africa with arms on
board," he said.
IANSA is a UK-based NGO that is addressing small arms trafficking and
related problems around the world.