Lesotho + 7 more

IRIN-SA Weekly Round-up 64 covering the period 23 - 29 Mar 2002

News and Press Release
Originally published
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network
SOUTHERN AFRICA: Food crisis stalks the region

Southern Africa is facing critical food shortages and the World Food Programme (WFP) says it urgently needs almost US $70 million to provide food for 2.6 million people.

"Natural disasters and high maize prices have forced hundreds of thousands of people throughout the region to rely on food aid for survival," the agency said in a donor alert released on Tuesday. It said people were particularly at risk in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

More details: http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=26978

In Mozambique, where the government is still struggling to cope with the effects of flooding during 2000 and 2001, a recent dry spell has hurt the current agricultural season. WFP and the government's National Disaster Management Institute (INGC) told IRIN on Monday that food security in the southern, central and western provinces of Gaza, Inhambane and Tete had worsened. WFP said it was assisting about 62,000 people in Tete alone.

More details: http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=26952

But the region's food crisis is not only weather related. Swaziland's current need for unprecedented levels of food aid is rooted in outmoded land usage and a lack of a national population policy, social scientists and aid workers told IRIN this week.

More details: http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID'023

MADAGASCAR: More bloodshed feared

The week in Madagascar ended with the European Commission demanding that roadblocks which have starved the opposition-held capital Antananarivo of fuel and other vital supplies for weeks must be lifted. On Wednesday, Antananarivo's military governor resigned, dealing yet another blow to President Didier Ratsiraka's government. Gen. Leon Claude Raveloarison said he feared that if no resolution was found soon to the political crisis, more bloodshed would follow. Raveloarison had been employed by Ratsiraka to enforce martial law in the capital after Marc Ravalomanana proclaimed himself president last month.

More details: http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID'003

On Wednesday at least four people were killed in clashes with the military. Twenty-eight people were injured on Tuesday when security forces and opposition supporters clashed in the town of Fianarantsoa, about 300 km south of Antananarivo. Protestors were accompanying self-declared president Ravalomanana's recent appointment - a provincial governor - to the incumbent governor's house when the shooting occurred.

More details: http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=26996

Meanwhile on Monday, soldiers loyal to Ratsiraka descended on the national parliamentary complex in the capital, where Ravalomanana has installed his cabinet. In response, opposition supporters set up barricades in the streets, foiling the attempt to seize control of the building.

More details: http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=26973

ANGOLA: Edging towards peace

While Madagascar slides towards chaos, Angola edges towards peace. Talks between government military officials and rebel UNITA commanders resumed on Monday with a denial from a UNITA general that his colleagues had been taken captive by the government.

A diplomatic source based in Luanda told IRIN that General Jose Samuel Tchiwale dismissed statements by UNITA's external commission that those involved in peace talks in Moxico province were effectively prisoners. He said the external commission was not well informed about what was happening inside the country and UNITA inside the country would have to take responsibility for informing them.

More details: http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=26961

The UN Security Council on Thursday urged UNITA to seize the opportunity to end three decades of civil war. It also said it was ready to consider lifting travel sanctions for senior UNITA officials, the UN news service reported.

Applauding a recent declaration by the government on its willingness to resume the peace process, the Security Council on Thursday called on UNITA "to recognise the historic nature of this opportunity to end the conflict with dignity, to give a clear, positive response to the government's offer of peace, to implement fully the Lusaka Protocol and to re-enter political life."

More details: http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID'021

Meanwhile, international law enforcement agencies have been handed a dossier alleging that millions of dollars of Angola's petroleum revenue have been embezzled. Lobby group Global Witness told IRIN on Tuesday that it had forwarded information regarding the alleged embezzlement to law enforcement agencies in the United States and Europe.

More details: http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=26976

ZIMBABWE: Access to food aid politicised says lobby group

Amid reports of widespread hunger, the government on Thursday dismissed allegations that access to food aid had been politicised.

In its report titled 'Zimbabwe At The Crossroads: Transition or Conflict', the International Crisis Group (ICG) alleged that "maize imports were, and are, directed first to areas of greatest support for the ruling party". Edward Mamutse, a government spokesman in Zimbabwe's Department of Information and Publicity told IRIN that the government would "devise a scheme to send food right round the country."

More details: http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID'008

Meanwhile, with inflation topping 100 percent, the local currency tumbling and over three million people in danger of going hungry, local industrialists and analysts are divided on the knock-on effects Zimbabwe's economic meltdown will have on the Southern African region.

"It is difficult to assess what all of this means just yet because of the deliberate disinformation and the poor quality of official data. Although, economic sense suggests that if the Zimbabwe economy collapses, it does not necessarily threaten the region. This is not to say that there won't be any long-term ramifications of what is going on in Zimbabwe now," Tony Hawkins, professor of economics at the University of Harare, told IRIN on Wednesday.

More details: http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=26992

ZAMBIA: EU ties aid to constitutional reforms

The European Parliament on Wednesday allayed fears of punitive action against Zambia over governance concerns in the wake of controversial elections last December, but said it expected reforms to strengthen the country's fragile democracy.

The European Union also expected the courts to "expeditiously" deal with three electoral petitions challenging the conduct of the presidential poll. Three opposition parties -- United Party for National Development (UPND), Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) and Heritage Party -- claim that the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) rigged the poll in favour of its candidate, Levy Mwanawasa, who is now president.

More details: http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=26993

Meanwhile, analysts have suggested that the resignation on Monday of Frederick Chiluba as leader of the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) will open the way for newly-elected President Levy Mwanawasa to consolidate control of the divided party.

Chiluba's presidency of MMD has been seen by observers and analysts alike as the main reason behind growing divisions in the ruling party. Since the 27 December election the MMD appeared to have split into two camps - one loyal to Chiluba, who briefly flirted with the idea of running for an unconstitutional third term, the other aligned with Mwanawasa, Chiluba's hand-picked successor.

More details: http://www.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=26957


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