Southern Africa: IRIN News Briefs, 24 May
UNHCR in Zambia said in a statement on Wednesday that it along with partner organisations and the Zambian government, was preparing "contingency plans" for a possible influx of refugees from Zimbabwe.
"This is a precautionary measure to facilitate an emergency response should the situation in Zimbabwe deteriorate to a point of prompting population movements," UNHCR said.
ZAMBIA: Programme to end child labour launched
Zambia has launched a programme to try and end child labour, Zambian news reports said on Wednesday.
According to the reports, a 1999 government study found that a total of 563,044 children were employed on a fulltime and part-time basis. The study said that about 40 percent of working children had never attended school, while the rest had limited schooling. The study also found that child labour in Zambia ranged from domestic chores to prostitution.
Meanwhile, UNICEF and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) said they would provide aid to Zambia to assist in its efforts to end child labour. UNICEF said it will contribute about US $17,000 while the ILO would give US $300,000.
MOZAMBIQUE: Flood victims benefit from radio aid
Radio programmes aimed at helping flood victims are bringing hope and support to affected families in remote rural areas, news reports said on Wednesday.
The programmes are broadcasts on provincial radio stations presented by local radio personalities. The programmes offer counselling and health tips to people in the worst hit regions in the south of the country. The programmes are being implemented by Media Action International (a global radio developer), and are expected to last for six months.
News reports said that international donors had given US $500,000 in the form of 7,000 wind-up and solar-powered radios and FM transmitters.
"Our aim is also to look for support for this solar technology to be used in development programmes throughout Mozambique which enjoys a tradition of strong radio listenership," said Kristine Pearson, executive director of Freeplay Foundation, one of the donor organisations involved in the project.
MOZAMBIQUE: Sasol concludes gas pipeline deal
The South African coal-to-oil firm Sasol announced on Tuesday that it had concluded a deal with the United States corporation Enron to consolidate their natural gas and pipeline rights in Mozambique, media reports said.
According to Sasol, part of the deal would see the construction of a single pipeline to transport natural gas from the Pande and Temane fields in the southern Mozambican province of Inhambane. The pipeline will service South Africa's industrial heartland of Gauteng and outlying areas.
Sasol said the agreement, which has yet to be formally approved by the Mozambican government and which is subject to technical reviews, combines and aligns the interests of the two companies, which will result in the construction of a single pipeline from central Mozambique to Maputo and the South African markets.
MALAWI: Death threats against journalist
A Malawian journalist and media rights activist, Rob Jamieson, has been receiving anonymous telephone calls warning him of fatal consequences if he continued to distribute a report criticising the state-owned media's coverage of the country's parliamentary and presidential elections last June, media freedom group Article 19 said on Wednesday.
The report, published in March, alleges that two media "disinformation task forces" were established by the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) of President Bakili Muluzi during the election campaign to ensure that the state media reflected the ruling party's views.
According to Article 19, one anonymous caller referred to the notorious "Mwanza case", in which four prominent Malawian politicians died in 1983, stating that a similar "accident" could be arranged.
SOUTH AFRICA: Government and unions begin wage talks
South Africa's public sector workers and the government have begun talks on a new wage deal which economists say could increase inflationary pressures if the union's demands are met, news reports said.
The government is offering a five percent increase, but the unions want between nine and 16 percent. The talks between the government and the 12 unions are to set public sector wages for 2000 to 2001.
Economists say the government will have to borrow heavily to finance the unions' demands. But, union officials say their demands are justified after South African government ministers voted themselves a 12 percent increase this year.
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