Angola + 2 more

Southern Africa: IRIN News Briefs, 1 December

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ANGOLA: New currency launched
The Angolan Central Bank on Wednesday launched a new currency, the kwanza, as part of a monetary reform program to simplify small transactions, news reports said.

The reports quoted Aguinaldo Jaime, the central bank governor, as saying the authorities wanted to do away with the public having to use large wads of the old currency, the readjusted kwanza, when making small purchases. The largest denomination of the new currency will be five kwanzas, which is worth 5 million readjusted kwanzas. The new currency will coexist with the old for several months until the readjusted kwanza is entirely phased out, he said.

ANGOLA: President to improve intelligence service

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola said in a radio broadcast monitored by the BBC this week that the country's security and intelligence service would receive improved training.

In a statement marking the 24th anniversary of the state security agencies, he said: "It is necessary to improve on the quality of services rendered by the intelligence community. The aim is to thwart the activities of all those who are still bent on overthrowing, through force of arms, the legally-established government, and who insist on preventing the development, well being and reconciliation of Angolans.

"In view of that, and taking into account the development of new electronic and telecommunications technologies, it has become necessary to provide a more specialised training to cadres working for the so-called intelligence community so that they can successfully accomplish their complex tasks."

MALAWI: Row with donors settled

Matthew Chikaonda, governor of the Reserve bank has said a row with Western donors that sparked economic turmoil in Malawi last year had been settled, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

"We have worked on these donor concerns, leading to a revision of the negative indicators seen in that period. The economy is doing fairly well," Chikaonda told Reuters. He said the kwacha had since stabilised in a range of 42 to 46 against the dollar, where it was expected to remain until the end of the year. He said real gross domestic product (GDP) growth would rise to 3.8 percent in 1999 versus 3.1 percent in 1998. Inflation, which ended 1998 at a worrying 56 percent, was firmly on its way down, and forecast to be 21 percent for 1999. It was 32 percent in the 12 months to October.

MALAWI: MPs protest over pay packages

Malawi's 192 members of parliament returned to work on Wednesday after putting an unprecedented stop to proceedings this week in a quest for higher pay, news agencies said.

Members of parliament on Tuesday refused to handle government business until a special committee had resolved the issue. The average monthly salary and allowances of an mp in Malawi amounts to the equivalent of US $400. They returned to normal proceedings after agreeing on a 50 percent increase, PANA reported.

ZIMBABWE: Fuel price increase

Zimbabwe's state oil procurement agency on Tuesday raised retail fuel prices by about eight percent, citing high prices on the world market, difficulties in getting foreign currency and high interest rates, news reports said.

"This will not go down well with ordinary people who are living with great difficulty in a free-fall economy," Bidi Munyaradzi, the director of Zimrights told IRIN. "People simply cannot afford these increases any more."

But the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM), said in a statement it had no option but to hike prices to stay afloat. In October, it had already raised fuel prices by an average 30 percent.

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Mandela named Burundi mediator

African leaders on Wednesday named former South African President Nelson Mandela as the new mediator for talks aimed at ending Burundi's six-year-old civil war.

South African officials confirmed news reports that Mandela's appointment had been announced after a closed-door meeting in Arusha, Tanzania. Mandela replaces former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere, who died of leukemia in October. South African President Thabo Mbeki accepted the appointment on Mandela's behalf.

[ENDS]

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