VITA


U N I T E D   N A T I O N S
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network for Southern Africa

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SOUTHERN AFRICA IRIN-SA Weekly Round-up 21 20-26 May

CONTENTS: ANGOLA: Growing humanitarian crisis ANGOLA: UNHCR to send emergency relief mission ANGOLA: Luanda reaffirms boycott of OAU summit ZIMBABWE: Fears of growing election intimidation ZIMBABWE: Land acquisition gazetted ZIMBABWE: Court delays nomination date ZIMBABWE: Ruling party accused of training death squads ZIMBABWE: War veterans under investigation for torture ZIMBABWE: Archbishop questioned after criticising government ZIMBABWE: War veterans, government supporters charged with murder ZIMBABWE: Conditions not present for fair polls - observer group ZIMBABWE: EU to send over 100 election monitors ZIMBABWE: Tobacco export stocks hit lowest level in five years ZIMBABWE: Court dismisses charges against two journalists ZAMBIA: UNHCR concerned about detention of refugees ZAMBIA: Church appeal for Angolan refugees ZAMBIA: Plans for possible Zimbabwe refugees NAMIBIA: Angolans face terror charges MOZAMBIQUE: Refugee centre to be opened in Nampula MOZAMBIQUE: Post-floods reconstruction MALAWI: Opposition poll challenge dismissed MALAWI: Donors pledge aid funds SWAZILAND: Death penalty still upheld LESOTHO: SADC troops to leave ANGOLA: Growing humanitarian crisis During a recent week-long visit to Angola, UN Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari expressed "dismay" at the conditions he witnessed among internally displaced persons (IDPs) forced to flee their homes from fighting between government forces and UNITA rebels. Upon visiting the central highland town of Huambo, Angola's second city, at the weekend, Gambari, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General for Special Assignments in Africa, said: "What I saw in Huambo made me very unhappy. That's why I am already working to find a better way to improve the situation." Zoraida Mesa, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Angola, who accompanied Ambassador Gambari on a visit to Viana about 20 km east of the capital, Luanda, said: "I share Ambassador Gambari's concerns about the conditions of the displaced. His visit comes at a time when the Government of Angola, working closely with humanitarian partners, is starting to implement the recent Rapid Assessment Report on Critical Needs in Angola." Her remarks were made after seeing first-hand encampments in Viana where 6,000 displaced Angolans, and 6,500 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are living in unventilated tents and mud huts. Meanwhile, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that it estimated that there were currently 2.6 million IDPs in Angola. It added that of these an estimated 39 percent were officially confirmed as IDPs by the government, UN agencies or other humanitarian organisations. "The number of displaced persons has grown steadily from approximately 530,000 in November 1998 to the current figure since the resumption of hostilities in December 1998," OCHA added. Further reports on the growing humanitarian crisis in Angola can be found at: ANGOLA: UNHCR to send emergency relief mission UNHCR said it was sending an emergency relief mission to Angola this week because it had found internally displaced people living in inhuman conditions in the war-torn country's northern provinces. "During a trip to Angola's Uige, Zaire and Luanda provinces in April, UNHCR workers found internally displaced people and returnees living in appalling and life-threatening conditions," spokesman Kris Janowski told IRIN. "They said the situation was particularly alarming in the northern provinces of Uige and Zaire. They cited severe malnutrition among children, rising mortality rates of malaria, respiratory infections and tuberculosis, as well as hopeless overcrowding. The team said the people needed virtually everything from food and clean water to medicine and basic sanitary installations," he said. ANGOLA: Luanda reaffirms boycott of OAU summit The Angolan government this week reiterated its intention to boycott the annual summit of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) if it is held in Togo. A foreign ministry statement carried on state television said although it had learned of the expulsion of 56 UNITA rebel supporters by the government of President Gnassingbe Eyadema, "the Angolan government considers Togo's attempt at reducing their involvement in the Angolan conflict as inadequate". ZIMBABWE: Fears of growing election intimidation Human rights groups in Zimbabwe this week said it was important that international observers visit the country as soon as possible in the run-up to next month's parliamentary elections because intimidation and violence by government supporters was growing daily. David Jamali, programme coordinator for ZimRights, told IRIN on Wednesday he feared the intimidation had increased so much that a free and fair election was no longer possible. He said it was also growing more dangerous for the organisation's monitors to educate people on their voting rights because ZimRights monitors themselves were being intimidated or beaten up. So far, he said 15 ZimRights election monitors had been assaulted. "Definitely the election scheduled for 24-25 June will not be free and fair," he said. An IRIN focus report on fears of growing election intimidation can be viewed at: ZIMBABWE: Land acquisition gazetted The government of President Robert Mugabe this week gazetted legislation empowering the government to acquire 841 white-owned farms for resettlement by landless peasants. Jonathan Moyo, chief strategist of Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party told IRIN the move meant the Land Acquisition Act was now in line with the constitution. But he said because parliament has been dissolved pending next month's parliamentary election, the new law would only be applicable for the next six months - unless it was ratified by the incoming parliament. ZIMBABWE: Court delays nomination date A Zimbabwean High court this week ordered that the nomination date for constituency candidates for the parliamentary elections be moved from 29 May to 3 June. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had launched an urgent application to the court arguing that the nomination date made it nearly impossible for opposition parties to field a full team of candidates for the 120 constituencies to be contested. ZIMBABWE: Ruling party accused of training death squads Welshman Ncube, MDC general secretary, claimed this week that death squads had been deployed to eliminate his party's candidates for next month's parliamentary elections. Ncube said his party had first hand information that members of ZANU-PF have been given special paramilitary training at Zimbabwean army headquarters in Harare and were deployed for "Operation Tsuro" - a systematic elimination of MDC candidates. Ncube claimed that operatives have been told to kill MDC candidates if they had the opportunity and if they could get away with it. He added that the MDC had known about this operation for some time. ZIMBABWE: War veterans under investigation for torture Zimbabwean police have begun investigating charges that war veterans tortured opposition supporters in the offices of their leader Chenjerai Hunzvi. "We don't ignore these alleged tortures," Emmanuel Chimwanda, the senior police commissioner for Harare said. He also confirmed that the police had started probing allegations of torture which had appeared in the Zimbabwean press. "We received reports that there were people staying there (at Hunzvi's offices) and that people were kidnapped or taken and questioned," Chimwanda added. ZIMBABWE: Archbishop questioned after criticising government Zimbabwe intelligence officers have questioned a Roman Catholic archbishop after he criticised the government in an open letter. In a strongly worded letter published on Monday in the independent 'Daily News' and entitled "A prayer of hope for Zimbabwe," Archbishop Pius Ncube condemned the widespread government-backed invasions of white-owned commercial farms begun in February. "We strongly deplore the lawless invasion of the farms, sometimes by villagers who are being forced against their will to settle on the farms," Ncube wrote. He also criticised the government of President Robert Mugabe for stoking the fires of racism: "We condemn in the strongest terms all racism and incitement of hatred among the races through extreme remarks by political leaders." ZIMBABWE: War veterans, government supporters charged with murder War veterans and government supporters appeared before a Harare magistrate this week and were charged with kidnapping and murder linked to last week's violence. The violence between ZANU-PF and MDC supporters occurred in a southwestern Harare suburb. The violence left one person dead and a number of people injured. Reports said that Magistrate Jefta Makhaza did not ask the accused to plead and were remanded in custody until 5 June. ZIMBABWE: Conditions not present for fair polls - observer group Conditions for free and fair elections do not exist in Zimbabwe because of political violence that has created fear among the electorate, an independent international poll observer group said this week. "The conditions for credible democratic elections do not exist in Zimbabwe at this time," the US-based National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) said. Former Nigerian vice president Alex Ekwueme, who led the NDI team on a pre-election assessment mission, said that under current conditions of violence and intimidation, democratic polling would be difficult. "The violence has created an atmosphere of fear and anxiety," Ekwueme said. ZIMBABWE: EU to send over 100 election monitors Meanwhile, EU foreign ministers gave the backing this week to an EU Commission plan to send more than 100 observers to Zimbabwe to observe next month's election. External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten told a news conference in Brussels that an EU team which had just returned from Harare had recommended sending 100 monitors by 4 June and to send a further 50 poll monitors by 19 June. A statement by the 15 EU foreign ministers said that the ministers hoped that the elections would be free and fair. The ministers also called upon the Zimbabwean government to put an end to the violence and intimidation and to "ensure due respect for democratic principles, human rights and the rule of law". ZIMBABWE: Tobacco export stocks hit lowest level in five years Stocks of export tobacco from Zimbabwe are at their lowest level in five years. The latest report of the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) showed that Zimbabwe has so far consigned over 46,000 mt of the tobacco overseas, compared to more than 77,000 mt in the same period last year. TIMB also noted that this time last year the country had close to 75,000 mt worth of stocks on hand compared to the current 54,000 mt. ZIMBABWE: Court dismisses charges against two journalists The Zimbabwean Supreme Court this week dismissed charges brought by the state against two journalists it claimed had published false news. The two, editor of the independent 'The Standard' newspaper, Mark Chavunduka, and senior reporter Ray Choto, were charged with contravening the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act over an article in which they claimed that 23 senior army officer had been arrested over a foiled coup plot. The court ruled that the charges against them should be dismissed with costs. More reports on Zimbabwe can be found at: ZAMBIA: UNHCR concerned about detention of refugees UNHCR has said this week that it was concerned about the large numbers of refugees who have been detained by the Zambian authorities in recent weeks. Oluseyi Bajulaiye, UNHCR Representative in Lusaka, said that the ongoing verification exercise conducted by immigration authorities had led to a "state of anxiety amongst refugees in Lusaka". "We are concerned about the manner in which this exercise has been conducted which regrettably resulted in the death of two refugees while in detention," Bajulaiye said. "Refugees have fled from persecution in their countries of origin and they deserve our understanding and sympathy." UNHCR said that there had been a "continuous" number of new arrivals into Zambia's Northwestern Province from Angola's Cazombo District. ZAMBIA: Church appeal for Angolan refugees The Zambia Christian Refugee Service (ZCRS) of the Lutheran World Federation has launched an appeal for US $890,765 to assist 47,000 Angolan refugees in eight transit and two settlement camps it manages in the country. ZCRS said the total appeal target amounted to about US $2,9 million and that it had already received pledges for US $103,986 in cash and about US $1,9 million worth of contributions in-kind. ZCRS said the war in Angola, especially in the Moxico province which borders Zambia had caused a continued influx of Angolan refugees into the western and northwestern provinces of Zambia. "The original appeal had estimated 5,000 new refugees crossing into Zambia between September and December last year, but instead the number rose to over 15,000 by the end of the year," ZCRS said. ZAMBIA: Plans for possible Zimbabwe refugees UNHCR in Zambia said in a statement this week that it, along with partner organisations and the Zambian government, was preparing "contingency plans" for a possible influx of refugees from Zimbabwe. "This is a precautionary measure to facilitate an emergency response should the situation in Zimbabwe deteriorate to a point of prompting population movements," UNHCR said. NAMIBIA: Angolans face terror charges Five Angolans believed to belong to the war-torn country's armed forces appeared in court at Rundu this week on charges relating to criminal and terrorist activities perpetrated on Namibian soil since last November, human rights sources told IRIN. Zen Mnakapa of Namibia's National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) said two of the five accused, among them a captain, claimed to be part of a group of 200 Angolan special forces sent to Namibia to commit atrocities as part of a campaign aimed at tightening UN sanctions against Jonas Savimbi's rebel movement UNITA. MOZAMBIQUE: Refugee centre to be opened in Nampula The Mozambican government in coordination with UNHCR is to open a centre for refugees in the northern Nampula Province. A spokeswoman for UNHCR in Maputo told IRIN this week that the centre would house an estimated 250 families and would cater for any refugees. "At this stage most of the influx of refugees is from the Great Lakes area," she said. MOZAMBIQUE: Post flood reconstruction Workshops arranged by the government and the humanitarian community are scheduled to get underway across Mozambique next month to help nearly half a million people currently being resettled after devastating floods in February and May which claimed over 650 lives. According to a report this week by the government disaster relief commission, the Instituto Nacional de Gestao de Calamidades (INGC), the first workshop will be held in the country's second city of Beira on 5 June, with representatives from the provinces of Sofala, Manica and Inhambane. A second workshop will be held in the capital, Maputo, on 9 June involving the southern provinces of Maputo and Gaza. In a measure of the progress achieved after the most destructive floods in recent memory, preliminary data showed that the numbers of people in the Chiaquelane accommodation centre in the southern Gaza Province district of Chokwe, home to 80,000 flood victims at the height of the crisis, have now dwindled to just 4,000, since the resettlement programme started on 6 April. For an IRIN focus on flood reconstruction can be found at MALAWI: Opposition poll challenge dismissed A Malawi high court judge last Friday dismissed an opposition challenge to overturn the victory of President Bakili Muluzi in last June's elections, diplomatic sources confirmed to IRIN. According to the diplomat, Judge Isaac Mtambo ruled that the country's electoral commission was correct in declaring Muluzi the winner. The opposition coalition, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), led by Gwanda Chakuamba and Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) of Chakufwa Chihana, had argued that Muluzi, leader of the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) had failed to get over 50 percent of the five million registered voters as demanded by the constitution. MALAWI: Donors pledge aid funds A group of 24 bilateral and multilateral donors meeting in Malawi's capital, Lilongwe, last week pledged to fund the country's external financing needs to the tune of about US $1.1 billion for the period 2000-2002, the World Bank said last Friday after the conclusion of the three-day 10th Consultative Group (CG) meeting. "Based on the discussions during the CG meeting and provided that Malawi strengthens the implementation of its reform programme, donor pledges indicate that these requirements will be fully met," the World Bank said in a statement. The meeting, however, expressed concern at Malawi's high inflation rate of 44.8 percent and interest rates currently above 50 percent. "These high inflation and interest rates continue to harm the economic fabric of Malawi and its scope for significant poverty reduction," the World Bank said. SWAZILAND: Death penalty still upheld The Swaziland government still retains the death penalty in its statutes, a situation that is out of step with its neighbours and in defiance of condemnation from human rights groups, a human rights activist told IRIN this week. Swaziland, according to Joshua Mzizi of the Human Rights Association of Swaziland (HUMARAS), there are currently 12 prisoners on death row. "The main reason the government has not carried out these sentences is its fear of an international outcry and the implications," Mzizi said. He said the last time hangings were carried out was in 1983 when a record eight people were executed. Swaziland has executed 34 convicted murderers since independence from Britain in 1968. Five men were condemned to hang early this year after being found guilty of murdering a pastor and his wife whom they accused of engaging in witchcraft. Another convicted murderer and rapist has been in death row for more than two years. LESOTHO: SADC troops to leave An estimated 250 South African and Botswana soldiers stationed in Lesotho are to leave the country within days, Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili said this week. Mosisili told the national assembly the military instructors - known as the Southern African Development Community Training Team in Lesotho - had "accomplished their mission to restructure and retrain the Lesotho Defence Force". He said the soldiers would all be withdrawn before the end of this month. Johannesburg, 26 May 10:30 GMT [This item is delivered in the English service of the UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. For further information, free subscriptions, or to change your keywords, contact e-mail: irin@ocha.unon.org or Web: http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN . If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.] Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2000 distributed by - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Volunteers in Technical Assistance Disaster Information Center lists: www.vita.org/listsub.htm sitreps nat-dsr web: www.vita.org fireline - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Southern Africa - http://www.vita.org/humanitarian/safrica

: 07/09/00 EDT