Southern Africa: IRIN News Briefs, 11 January
Minister of the Interior Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos Nando said on Monday that there are no political prisoners in Angola, state news agency Angop reported. He added: "Fortunately, Angola is the only country at war that has no political prisoners. At present there are no journalists that have been detained while on duty. We would like to challenge anyone who feels that we are an easy target: let them say which journalist or politician is currently in detention in Angola."
But Alex Vines of the London-based human rights organisation Human Rights Watch said that while he knew of no journalists or opposition politicians currently imprisoned in Angola, there were many documented cases of threats, intimidation and court cases resulting in large fines involving those targeted by the authorities.
ANGOLA: Ignoring public sector strike is censorship says NGO
The Namibia-based Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), a media freedom watch dog, said on Monday that Angola's state media had ignored a public sector strike, effectively censoring it. Angolan public sector workers have been on nationwide strike since Monday in reaction to the government's proposal to set the minimum monthly salary at the equivalent of US $30. The unions are demanding US $300, and MISA pointed out that some public sector workers only earn the equivalent of two cans of Coca-Cola a month.
The institute alleged that Brazilian PR specialists contracted by the ruling MPLA have, since 1999, effectively run state media outlets. According to a MISA source in the state-funded newspaper 'Jornal de Angola', "the Brazilian specialists have the task of 'convincing' the public that the state media is moving towards openness and democracy". Only the Catholic-run FM Rádio Ecclésia and the Commercial FM LAC have been following events. But both radio stations can only be heard in the capital Luanda. As for the independent newspapers, they are only due to come out next Saturday.
NAMIBIA: Journalist makes waves
A journalist employed by the Namibian government who wrote a freelance critique on the volatile situation in Namibia's northern Kavango region for the PANA news agency, could face disciplinary action from his employer, 'The Namibian' reported on Thursday. A furious Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Information and Broadcasting Permanent Secretary Mocks Shivute said he could not understand why David Kashweka, a Zambian national, "who for the past six years is part of the editorial staff of the government-funded newspaper, 'New Era', chose to write such a malicious report on Namibia while he is on his annual vacation in Zambia".
Shivute said while the government cannot deny that settlements and villages close to Namibia's border with Angola are falling prey to attacks by alleged UNITA bandits, Kashweka's claim that the whole region's economic and social infrastructure is almost paralysed was an exaggeration. He added that Kashweka had ignored the efforts of the government in the region, including the curfew aimed at minimising attacks, the military escorts of civilian vehicles and the military successes scored by Namibian troops. The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) described the Permanent Secretary's reaction as "lacking political maturity and fuelled by xenophobia."
SOUTHERN AFRICA: Vets plan to meet to assess foot-and-mouth
Veterinary chiefs from Mozambique, South Africa and Swaziland plan to meet on Friday in the eastern South African town of Nelspruit to study the current state of foot-and-mouth disease in the region, PANA reported. Mozambique placed a ban on the importation of meat products from South Africa and Swaziland following an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in both countries.
The disease mainly affects pigs, cattle, sheep and goats. Francisco Pinto, of the Veterinary Department of Mozambique's ministry of agriculture and rural development, reportedly told Radio Mozambique that the three countries would discuss measures each would take to curb the spread of the outbreak.
MOZAMBIQUE: UNDP helps flood victims with new houses
Sixty families whose lives were disrupted by severe floods in Mozambique last year are proud owners of new homes they helped build near Xai-Xai City, 250 km northeast of Maputo, with support from the Italian government. Most of the new owners are needy families headed by those who are disabled, elderly or single women responsible for young children. They were chosen to participate in the project by the local Population Resettlement Commission.
The housing construction project is part of a programme for community rehabilitation in flood-affected areas supported by the agency Italian Cooperation. The programme targeted communities hard hit by the floods and comprises twelve projects in the provinces of Maputo, Inhambane, Gaza, Sofala, and Manica. UNDP managed the housing project, with technical assistance from the Italian Trade Union Institute for Development Cooperation (ISCOS).
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