Malawi + 7 more

IRIN-SA Weekly Round-up 13 covering the period 25-31 March 2000

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network for Southern Africa
Tel: +27 11 880 4633
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SOUTHERN AFRICA: Floods report

Flood damage to Mozambique's agriculture, roads and manufacturing industry will cost the country about US $1 billion in relief and reconstruction costs, the World Bank said in a report jointly released this week with the Mozambican government. It said that preliminary indirect costs were estimated at US $214 million, while relief costs would amount to US $64.8 million. The report added that damage assessments following the disaster amounted to US $700 million.

Meanwhile, as rains continued in southern Africa, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) estimated that the number of deaths in the region had now reached 1,000 since February and early March when cyclones Eline and Gloria swept through Madagascar and Mozambique, sending heavy rains to other neighbouring countries.

In Madagascar, WFP on Tuesday appealed for US $5 million to help communities recover from severe crop losses and rebuild damaged roads and bridges. In Botswana, USAID said many of the main roads that were damaged in the flooding had been repaired or were being repaired and that traffic had started moving again.

In London, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) told IRIN on Wednesday that in the week of 13 March it had agreed to provide some US $960,000 to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). DFID said the funds had been allocated as a regional grant both for Mozambique and Madagascar, as well as other countries in the region which had suffered damage to infrastructure, displacements and loss of life. The funds were allocated for continued assessment and coordination services "with a particular emphasis on maintaining and expanding their presence outside the capital city areas".

For a full report see:

MALAWI: Flood damage

Malawi's Department of disaster preparedness, relief and rehabilitation told IRIN on Tuesday that more than 14,000 households in various parts of the country had been flooded in the past two weeks after torrential rains caused rivers to burst their banks. A departmental official, James Chiusiwa, said flood waters in central Malawi had swept away the mud homes and food gardens of an estimated 70,000 people.

For a full report see:

ZIMBABWE: Elections postponed

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe at the weekend announced that parliamentary elections, which had been originally scheduled for next month, would be held in May.

Official reports cited delays in updating of the register of voters. Mugabe said: "When all is set, elections could be held early in May or mid-May."

The Zimbabwe voters' register is widely believed to be outdated and inaccurate. Last year, a UN inspection team found that a quarter of registered voters had died, while another third of the estimated 5.8 million registered voters had moved constituencies since the last elections in 1995.

For a full report see:

ZIMBABWE: Mugabe warns white farmers

Meanwhile, President Mugabe has warned the country's white farmers that they would face "very, very, very severe" violence if they provoked war veterans who have occupied some 600 white-owned farms around the country.

He made the remarks in an interview with Reuters Television on Monday. Mugabe said he would not act against the veterans who had invaded the farms in a bid to seize white-owned land for resettlement. "There have been very few cases of violence, but if the farmers start to be angry and start to be violent, then of course they will get that medicine delivered to them," Mugabe said. "And it can be very, very, very severe, but we don't want to get there." He refused to back a court order that police evict the veterans.

NAMIBIA: Security threat increases

Namibian Home Affairs Minister Jerry Ekandjo, on Wednesday warned that the country faces its most serious security problems since independence due to the Angolan rebel movement UNITA's banditry along the northeastern border, 'The Namibian' reported on Thursday.

Addressing law enforcement officials in the capital, Windhoek, Ekandjo said: "The banditry and terrorist activities being committed by UNITA in the Kavango and Caprivi regions require vigilance and all-time preparedness on the part of our security forces, while the incidence of crime must also be combated in the rest of the country."

NAMIBIA: Torture allegations an "internal" matter

The Namibian defence ministry said it would not disclose the findings of a probe into allegations that police had tortured suspects rounded up in the wake of a separatist attack in the northeast Caprivi Strip last year.

Instead, 'The Namibian' newspaper reported on Wednesday that the ministry had decided to deal with the matter "internally". It said at least five police officers had been implicated in the widely publicised case. Dozens of suspects rounded up in the wake of the separatist attack on Katima Mulilo and the Mpacha military base have sought damages for torture.

ANGOLA: WFP warns of shortages

WFP in Angola has warned that without substantial new donor pledges, the UN food agency's relief programme could face serious difficulties from July.

"Serious pipeline breaks are foreseen from July for most commodities if large contributions are not confirmed. As per the present pipeline forecast, the total shortfalls from March to August are expected to amount to 8,036 mt," a WFP report released on Wednesday said.

Funding for WFP's Angola appeal is currently US $65 million against the US $158 million requested, or 41 percent of total requirements. In addition, the number of beneficiaries has now been revised upwards from 1.1 million to 1.5 million. A new "resourcing proposal" based on the projections for the level of assistance for the rest of the year is to be presented to WFP's Executive Board in May for approval, the report said.

ANGOLA: Bishops appeal to UN

Angola's Roman Catholic bishops have made an impassioned appeal to the United Nations to promote peace talks between the government of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and Jonas Savimbi's UNITA rebels. They asked the UN to "review its policy in Angola and try to play a more efficient role".

"The truth here is that we are talking of 25 long years of war, of brothers spilling their brothers' blood, of 25 years of history seeped in blood, of one of the longest lasting genocides in contemporary Africa," the bishops said. "There is no city where people can feel safe and secure."

ANGOLA: Prominent journalist tried in secret

Prosecution witnesses at the trial of a prominent Angolan journalist, Rafael Marques, this week told the court he had humiliated the government of President Eduardo dos Santos, tarnished the honour and dignity of the president himself, and demoralised the Angolan army in an article published last year.

In a case closely monitored by Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and other rights groups, Marques, the Angolan representative of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, was arrested last October and later charged with defamation arising out of an article published by his newspaper, 'Folha 8'.

The New York-based CPJ said the trial presided over by Judge Joaquim De Abreu Cangato, was expected to last until the end of the week. At one session on Tuesday, it said, proceedings lasted 11 hours without a break. "Marques is being tried in secrecy and without benefit of legal representation," CPJ said in a statement on Thursday.

For a full report see:

ZAMBIA-ANGOLA: Angolan refugees moved from border

The last group of Angolan refugees stuck around the Zambian border hamlet of Sinjembela were on Wednesday moved to a new camp further inland, UNHCR told IRIN.

"Sinjembela is empty. There may still be pockets of self-settled refugees and we will maintain the capacity to collect them if and when they come forward," UNHCR spokesman Dominik Bartsch said. UNHCR described the operation to move the refugees the 120 km from Sinjembela, through waterlogged and difficult terrain, to the new camp at Nangweshi as a "major accomplishment". The current population at Nangweshi stands at 9,000 people.

ZAMBIA: Last major copper sale

The last major sale of Zambia's copper mines to the South African mining giant Anglo American was scheduled to be held at a special ceremony in the capital Lusaka on Friday, news reports said.

The copper industry, the major source of Zambia's wealth, has been privatised as part of attempts by the government of President Frederick Chiluba to rejuvenate an ailing economy and meet donor conditionalities. Once the US $90 purchase ceremony is over, the copper industry will be in private hands after more than 25 years of government ownership.

LESOTHO: Troika defence ministers to meet

Defence ministers of Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe are expected in Lesotho for the formal signing of a security agreement with the government, but the date is yet to be confirmed, a South African foreign affairs official told IRIN.

Botswana President Festus Mogae, who also holds his country's defence portfolio, was supposed to lead the troika team, "but it is not clear yet" when the ministers will assemble in Lesotho, the South African official said. The signing ceremony was initially due to have taken place last week.

Meanwhile, as political tensions grow over a likely postponement of elections scheduled for April this year, Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili on Wednesday wrote to South African President Thabo Mbeki. The content of the letter is at the moment unknown. Senior South African foreign affairs officials on Thursday met with a member of Lesotho's Interim Political Authority (IPA), a cross-party body charged with preparing the country for fresh polls.

Johannesburg, 31 March 12:00 GMT


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