Zimbabwe + 3 more

Southern Africa: IRIN News Briefs, 22 February

ZIMBABWE: Court defeat for Mugabe
The Zimbabwean Supreme Court has cleared the way for President Robert Mugabe's office to be sued in an attempt to force it to make public the results of an inquiry into the deaths of government opponents in the 1980's, news reports said on Tuesday.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and the Legal Resource foundation want the court to order Mugabe's office to release the reports of two commissions of inquiry into events in Matabeleland in western Zimbabwe, where it is estimated that up to 20,000 people were killed allegedly by government troops.

Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay ruled that "no immunity was accorded to the office of the president" and that Mugabe could be sued in his official capacity as president. He gave Mugabe's office 20 days in which to challenge demands that it publish the reports.

In 1981 and 1983, Mugabe ordered judges to investigate fighting between his security forces and former guerrillas of the late Joshua Nkomo's Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU). The fighting ended after Mugabe signed a pact with Nkomo and made him vice-president.

ZIMBABWE: Economic conditions increase "brain drain"

Economic deterioration is forcing many highly qualified Zimbabweans to leave the country to find work abroad, the Central Statistical Office (CSO) in Harare said Tuesday.

According to the CSO, an average of about 300 Zimbabweans emigrate per month. It said that most headed for Australia, Britain, the United States and South Africa. The CSO said that the country lost about 55 architects and engineers, 60 teachers, 21 medical surgeons and 17 bricklayers and carpenters every six months.

Zimbabwe businessmen say that labour migration was hurting the country's already ailing economy by diminishing the supply of locally available skilled labour.

ZIMBABWE: Price controls could be reintroduced

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe says he planned to reintroduce price controls on basic commodities, but did not say when it would come into effect.

Speaking on state television, Mugabe said: "There is a need for basic goods and products to be controlled... and I have come to the conclusion that after the experience we have had, we should go back to the central control of products like bread, mealie meal, sugar, vegetable oil and beef."

MALAWI: Election case postponed again

The Malawi High Court has again postponed the case in which the country's main opposition, The Malawi Congress Party and the Alliance for Democracy, is challenging the results of the June 1999 elections, Malawi media reports said.

Justice Issac Mtambo adjourned the case to 17 April, after lawyers representing the Malawi Electoral Commission and the ruling United Democratic Front asked for the case to be postponed so that they could inspect documents presented by the opposition's lawyers.

The opposition is challenging the results on two accounts: that President Muluzi did not get 50 percent of the votes as required by the constitution to be declared a winner and that his party rigged the polls.

NAMIBIA: Insecurity sparks school boycotts

School children in the Kavango region in northern Namibia are boycotting classes in protest against the Angolan civil war which has spilled over into Namibia.

'The Namibian' newspaper said on Tuesday that both primary and secondary schools in the Mashare and Ndiyone constituents were reported closed on Monday. It added that pupils at the Nyangana Combined School, about 100 km east of the border town of Rundu, held a demonstration calling for increased security in the region.

Namibian education officials told IRIN on Tuesday that a number of schools were involved but could not say how many pupils were affected.

Regional Education Director Sebastian Kantema was quoted by 'The Namibian' as saying that the "problem was complex" and could not be solved by posting security forces at all schools in the Kavango region.

BOTSWANA: Flood relief starts arriving

International aid has started arriving in Botswana, after severe flooding in recent weeks left up to 90,000 people homeless, Botswana media reports said on Tuesday.

Director of the National Disaster Management Office Dineo Mogwe was quoted by media reports as saying that the European Union had pledged 650 tents, 5,000 blankets and first aid kits.

Botswana's President Festus Mogae said that damage to roads and bridges "was enormous" and has appealed for international aid.


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