Malawi + 4 more

Southern Africa: IRIN News Briefs, 28 March

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SOUTHERN AFRICA: Focus on conflicts
The 21-member Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) on Monday began a three-day meeting in the Zambian capital, Lusaka to draw up a regional protocol on peace and security to deal with armed conflicts which have ravaged more than half of the economic grouping's members, PANA reported on Tuesday.

The proposal for a legal framework on peace and security arose from a growing concern over the widespread and persistent armed conflicts among its member states. The meeting is expected to identify and analyse the causes of conflicts, wars and political instabilities within and among member states.

The gathering will try to devise a programme on how the body can play a role in conflict prevention, management and resolution, including post-conflict reconstruction.

MALAWI: Muluzi on Libya visit

Malawi's President Bakili Muluzi left for a three-day official visit to Libya on Monday, where he is expected to hold "development" talks with Libyan leader Muammar Gadafi, according to government officials in the country's capital, Lilongwe.

The officials told PANA that Muluzi aims to find out about the pledge made by Libya last year to fund agricultural development as well as the construction of low-cost housing in Malawi. Libya had also promised to send tractors to the poverty-stricken country of about 11 million people.

Alaudin Osman, Muluzi's aide, said Malawi faces a serious housing shortage, which had prompted the Libyan government to offer assistance.

BOTSWANA: Kenyans on anti-graft mission

Kenyan legislators arrived in Botswana on a five-day visit to learn how the country has managed to keep corruption at bay since independence in 1966, media reports said.

The legislators, from the parliamentary anti-corruption committee, have been holding a series of meetings with anti-corruption authorities in Botswana, the commissioner of police, President Festus Mogae, former president Ketumile Masire and the speaker of parliament, among others.

On their return to Kenya, they will present their report to parliament when it reopens after recess. The chairman of the committee, Musikari Kombo, told Gaborone-based Kenyans that the body's findings and recommendations would shake Kenya because they would spare no-one. He further added that the committee has already drafted a bill, which will be tabled before parliament together with the damning report.

They chose Botswana because of its reputation as one of the least corrupt nations in the world. They felt that Botswana's case has a lot of lessons for Kenya, which is regarded as one of the most corrupt nations in the world.

NAMIBIA: TB kills 65 in Kavango

The Namibian health directorate has reported that 65 people in the Kavango region died as a result of tuberculosis between April 1999 and March 2000, news reports said. The directorate said a total of 1,002 others received treatment to fight the disease.

Presenting the statistics at the TB Day commemoration held at the Rundu Open Market Primary Health Care Centre, Co-ordinator for the Kavango region, Dorothy Kambinda, said there had been 155 positive new cases among men compared to 143 female cases.

She confirmed that between April 1999 to March this year 285 TB patients went the full length of the treatment and 95 repeated the treatment. Eleven did not complete the full course.

BOTSWANA: UNITA sanctions-busting probed

The Botswana government is investigating allegations of sanctions busting to Angola UNITA rebels by a Botswana citizen named in a UN report.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mompati Merafhe said the police were investigating the activities of Dennis Coghlan, a Motswana of Irish descent, named in the report, a local newspaper said. Coghlan was accused of running a warehouse in Gaborone used to store fuel and other supplies for UNITA.

MOZAMBIQUE: Relief group faces charges

The Mozambican government said on Monday it would start legal action against a Brazilian church NGO after one man died and five were injured in a stampede at a feeding centre.

News reports quoted a government official as saying that the decision to take legal proceedings against the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (IURD) followed an official report by a commission of inquiry into the incident at Chiaquelane camp near the southern town of Chokwe last week.

According to the report, IURD ignored local authorities and began a disorderly distribution of relief supplies. An IURD truck driver panicked when a large crowd rushed the trucks and drove through the throng.

ZIMBABWE: Mass action threatened

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has threatened mass action over an AIDS tax introduced by the government.

ZCTU charges that the three percent income tax on individuals and companies introduced in January puts an unfair strain on already hard pressed Zimbabweans, news reports said. The labour body warned that industrial action would follow unless the government agreed to open talks with the unions and anti-AIDS groups.

[ENDS]

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