Zimbabwe + 4 more

Southern Africa: IRIN News Briefs, 28 February

ZIMBABWE: IMF aid still on hold
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced at the weekend that it will not resume its budgetary support programme to Zimbabwe until the government of President Robert Mugabe adheres to economic reforms to kick-start economic growth and reduce poverty levels, the IMF said in a statement.

Following a week-long visit by IMF's officials to Zimbabwe, the fund said it had advised the government that a reduction in state spending was vital to reduce the country's budget deficit and meet other reform targets.

The IMF last year withdrew its balance of payments support over what it called deviations by the government on economic reforms, including the failure to curb inflation that rose to 70 percent. The IMF's latest stance worsens Zimbabwe's woes, which is experiencing a fuel crisis because of the shortages of foreign currency that has hampered its ability to pay its fuel and electricity suppliers.

MALAWI: Muluzi dissolves cabinet

Malawi's President Bakili Muluzi on Sunday announced the dissolution of his eight-month cabinet following allegations of widespread corruption levelled at some of his ministers, media reports said.

Muluzi gave no formal reason for his action. "It is the president's prerogative to dissolve and constitute the cabinet. The current cabinet stands dissolved with immediate effect," Muluzi reportedly said. The statement did not say when a new government would be formed.

ZAMBIA: Kariba dam bulges

Zambia has opened the spillway gates of its bulging Kariba dam - a source of power for both Zambia and Zimbabwe - threatening to further flood an already devastated Mozambique, Reuters reported on Monday. Some of the water would end up in Mozambique's Cahora-Bassa Dam, which is already overflowing, added the report.

The surplus water - the result of torrential rains over southern Africa in the past month - was coursing down the Zambezi River, putting the Mozambique villages near the border areas of Luangwa and Katondwe in danger.

"Because of heavy rains in Botswana and Zimbabwe, the upper catchments near the dam have been flooded and the dam itself is full beyond its acceptable capacity," a spokesman for the Zambezi River Authority was quoted as saying. The spokesman added that the gates will be kept open until the authority's engineers were satisfied that the dam faces no more danger.

SWAZILAND: Malaria cases on the rise

The eastern part of Swaziland is treating about 200 malaria cases a day since the start of the heavy rains in Southern Africa two weeks ago, news reports said on Monday.

The reports said more than 320 people with malaria were admitted to two health centres at the weekend, and officials of the country's Malaria Control Unit reportedly said they expect the number of cases to double as rains continue to fall in the area.


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