Afrique : histoire, economie, politique



ZAMBIA'S government has warned Lusaka residents to avoid being on the streets at night and is beefing up its armed forces, following seven bomb blasts in the city this week.
The warning came in the face of mounting accusations by the Angolan government of Zambian involvement in gun-running for Jonas Savimbi's Unita forces in Angola.

The bombs initially saw the Zambian authorities shocked and disbelieving. Four bombs went off in residential areas, two at a water treatment plant in Chilanga, one in the commercial district and others at the foot of electricity pylons east of Lusaka.

The Angolan embassy was also damaged by an explosion. After touring the damaged building, President Frederick Chiluba said: "We may have clues, but for now we will leave it to experts to investigate."

Zambian Minister of Information Newstead Zimba would not lay blame on any group. But Minister of Legal Affairs Vincent Malambo said: "From our point of view and preliminary analysis, this looks like the work of an external force, an external enemy."
Chiluba said at a press conference: "Zambian politics have never known violence. We are not at war with anybody and therefore we shall not allow anybody to export violence to Zambia ... We are not declaring war on anybody, but we can defend ourselves."

The army and the air force are on full alert and security in Lusaka has been tightened.

There has been no official communication from the Angolan government to the Zambian government on the bombing.

Accusations of Zambian government involvement in gun-running for Unita surfaced in January. The government challenged Angola to provide evidence. But when an Angolan delegation flew to Lusaka to present the evidence publicly, Zambian officials prevailed on them not to do so.

Two weeks later, Angolan foreign minister Venancio de Moura sent a memorandum to Zambian foreign minister Keli Walubita, naming among government leaders involved in gunning-running Minister of Energy Ben Mwila and Vice-President Lieutenant General Christon Tembo.

Moura said his government has evidence of "direct support of the Zambian government led by the vice-president through the intelligence services of this country". Tembo has dismissed the accusations as groundless.

At a Southern African Development Community meeting last month, Chiluba said: "Zambia has neither the capacity nor the will to be involved in the military destabilisation of Angola. And I have no doubt that when independent investigators have done their work, we will be vindicated."

But the vindication has been long in coming and the accusations are still running hot. There appears to be considerable difficulty in arranging a meeting between Chiluba and Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos.

This week the Zambian Parliament, during a debate for estimates of expenditure for the defence ministry, endorsed increased funding to modernise the army. Backbench MP Simasiku Namakando said Zambia is surrounded by countries with big armies.

"Modern war needs to be fought with modern weapons. Our neighbours like Angola have the most sophisticated equipment."

Zimba said: "Zambians must prepare for any eventuality. Government will do its utmost to render the necessary protection to lives and property. People will have to co-operate with security officers. And from now onwards people must try to avoid being on the streets at night."

The Mail & Guardian, March 5, 1999

Five opposition parties in Zambia say they've merged to form a new party to fight the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy.

A spokesman for the yet un-named party, Dean Mungomba, of the Zambia Democratic Congress, told the BBC the party would be registered next week.

Mr Mungomba said moves were also underway to elect a leader and an executive for the new party.

The opposition United National Independence Party of the former president Kenneth Kaunda is not part of the merger.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service, Avril 1999

ADVANCE warning that two professional South African hitmen were inside Zambia and plotting with elements in President Frederick Chiluba's Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) government to eliminate opposition leader Kenneth Kaunda may have been the factor that saved the former president's life.
According to Kaunda's son, Major Wezi Kaunda, it was because he had been tipped off that Kaunda Snr was not in the passenger seat of his Land Cruiser when it was raked with AK-47 fire at the gates of his home in Lusaka's Kabulonga suburb at around 8pm last Thursday. Wezi Kaunda said the intelligence — of a four man hit squad being assembled with two professionals from South Africa — had been passed on to the Zambian authorities but they failed to provide any protection.

It is not clear whether the alleged South African hitmen were actually involved in the attack last Thursday.

Wezi Kaunda has accused Chiluba's MMD government of being behind the attempted hit — the third against his father in as many years.

It came the day after the Zambian Citizenship Board — in a bizarre culmination to a drawn-out citizenship battle between Kenneth Kaunda and Chiluba — declared the former president a stateless person on the grounds of his Malawian descent.

The decision by Judge Sakala for the Citizenship Board contradicts an earlier ruling by the Supreme Court to the effect that any person inside Zambia at the time of independence could claim citizenship. That ruling was recorded in a case brought by Kaunda's United National Independence Party against Chiluba — in the light of evidence that Chiluba was born across the border in the former Zaire to non-Zambian parents.

The Citizenship Board ruling has been appealed in the light of the Supreme Court precedent. Observers say it is almost certain that the Supreme Court ruling will win the day — allowing Kaunda to stand as a candidate for the presidency.

Chiluba himself, however, will need to change the Constitution in order to contest the presidency for a third term — which currently allows only two terms.

Despite public avowals that he intends to stand down, current indications are that Chiluba does indeed intend to stand for a third term — and that constitutional changes are in the pipeline. In the early part of 1998, a team of Namibian constitutional lawyers — fresh from introducing changes to the Namibian Constitution to allow President Sam Nujoma to stay in power for a third term — were brought into Zambia by Chiluba. They stayed there for around three months, apparently drafting similar amendments to the Zambian Constitution.

These amendments were discussed at a series of meetings of senior MMD personnel during the parliamentary recess at the end of March this year. They could be implemented around the middle of 1999.

Sources close to the MMD said that Chiluba has banned his party colleagues from putting themselves forward to campaign to take over the presidency on his departure.

Though elections are scheduled only for the year 2001, Chiluba is expected to call snap elections which could take place as early as October or November this year.

The Mail & Guardian, April 9, 1999

NEW evidence has come to light implicating President Frederick Chiluba's Zambian government in aiding Jonas Savimbi's rebel Unita movement in neighbouring Angola. Indications have also surfaced of Ugandan troops seconded in support of the rebels.
And with Angola's MPLA government already having warned the Zambians on three separate occasions of possible military action if Chiluba's government continues to aid Savimbi's military machine, fears are growing that Angola's civil war could spill over the borders as the Angolan military apparently prepares for a major offensive.

Sources inside Zambia have reported mysterious troop movements in recent months - apparently into Unita-held areas of Angola. In one such case, opposition United National Independence Party secretary Basil Kabwe told the M&G he personally observed eight brand-new military trucks - apparently part of a much larger convoy - in procession along the Shangombo highway leading to the border with Unita-held areas in Angola.

Number plates on the trucks identified them as being Zambian registered; however, the vehicles were not of a kind used by the Zambian military. Each of the trucks observed by Kabwe was loaded with around 30 heavily armed soldiers - likewise dressed in uniforms other than those worn by the Zambian army.

Unconfirmed reports have traced the route taken by the convoy back to Uganda - another of Unita's alleged allies. It is almost inconceivable that troop movements of this magnitude could have taken place without the connivance of the Zambian authorities.

Uganda's alliance with Unita is believed to arise from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's sponsorship of rebels seeking to depose Democratic Republic of Congo President Laurent Kabila. Kabila is backed by the Angolan MPLA government.

Last month in a letter to the UN Security Council's Committee on Angola, the Luanda government registered similar claims regarding Zambian and Ugandan support for the Unita rebels.

Angolan permanent representative Alfonso Van-Dunen alleged that in July 1998 a convoy of no fewer than a hundred trucks laden with supplies left Kitwe bound for Unita strongholds.

Van-Dunen's communique also alleged that a Unita representative, Angelo Dembo, was permanently in place in Zambia - under the protection of Chiluba's Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) - to oversee the provision of supplies. It is understood that payment for military assistance and supplies is made in diamonds. Last year international agencies estimated that Unita's haul from diamond mining stood in excess of $600-million per year.

Continuing contacts, the Angolan government claims, were guaranteed by a top-level meeting of four Unita generals with Zambian political leaders and representatives of the intelligence services between September 5 and 11 last year.

In the wake of the meeting, a number of senior Zambian officials and senior intelligence operatives embarked earlier this year on a two-week “state visit” together with Chiluba to Belgium and Israel - both major diamond-dealing and cutting centres. No visible business of state was concluded on the visit.

Among the senior MMD figures directly named as being involved in assisting Unita are former defence minister Ben Mwila, who is believed to be of Angolan origin, and Enock Kavindele, a former commerce and industry minister and a close personal friend of Savimbi.

According to UN estimates, the latest cycle of war in Angola has left no fewer than 650 000 people displaced (from a total population of only 10-million) since April 1998.

In the middle of last year, up to 30 000 Unita soldiers were reported by foreign intelligence agencies and military analysts to be hiding out in refugee camps on the Zambian side of the border. Their status as potential combatants was in defiance of the 1994 Lusaka protocols where Unita agreed to demobilise and reconstitute as a civilian political party.

Allegations of top-level Zambian assistance to Savimbi's rebels have led to two diplomatic notes verbales - threatening military action against Zambia - and at least one written threat since late 1997. Since that time, however - largely owing to huge weapons-for-diamonds deals and allegedly the assistance of allies like Uganda and Zambia - the tide of the war has turned. Unita currently controls around a third of Angola.

In the face of mounting evidence to the contrary and UN Security Council calls for Zambia and Angola to meet to address the allegations, Chiluba has consistently denied any Zambian involvement in the Angolan war.

The Mail & Guardian, April 9, 1999

LUSAKA, Zambia (PANA) - Six Zambian political parties and a non-governmental organisation have merged and registered as a new party.

Called the Zambia Alliance for Progress, it was formally registered Monday, after three months of protracted interparty consultations and subsequent approval of its constitution and name.

Officials said the new party would hold its first convention in the next 30 days to elect leaders.

The parties include the National Citizens Coalition the Zambia Democratic Congress, Lima Party and Agenda for Zambia.

Others are Labour Party, National Party, the Poor People's Party and the National Pressure Group, an NGO.

Outgoing interim chairman of the parties, Ben Kapita of the Lima Party, said that a programme of work had been drawn leading to the first National Policy Council meeting scheduled for the end of May or early June.

The council, which is the new party's highest policy-making body, would be constituted by 140 members drawn from all the seven parties in the alliance. Each party would contribute 20 members to it.

The council would report to the general conference which shall elect the party's presidential candidate for the 2001 general elections.

The merger has been snubbed by the main opposition United National Independence Party of former President Kenneth Kaunda and the newly formed United Party for National Development.

The two parties have said they intended to retain their own identities.

Officials in the new party have said they wanted to constitute a formidable political force to defeat the ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy.

May 4, 1999

Zambia has been hit by a severe shortage of diesel fuel.

Many travellers have been left stranded at bus stops, and some haulage firms have been forced to take their trucks off the road.
Zambian drivers:"We are going to suffer...the diesel is finished"
Long distance bus services from the capital, Lusaka, to other towns in Zambia have been severely disrupted.

One truck driver told the BBC he had slept in his cab for a week waiting for fuel.

Petrol is also in short supply, leading to big queues at filling-stations.

The fuel shortage, reportedly the worst since the 1960s, comes a month after fire devastated Zambia's only oil refinery, at Ndola, in the northern copperbelt region.

The government has urged people not to panic and said the shortages were "artificial" and had been caused by hoarding.


After the fire at the Indeni refinery, 300 kms north of Lusaka, officials had predicted that fuel supplies would be disrupted.

The refinery, which is owned by the state run Zambian Oil Company, processes fuel imported into Zambia overland from the Tanzanian port of Dar Es Salaam.

BBC Juin 1999

ZAMBIA is losing an estimated 300 000 hectares of forest every year. Environment and natural resources minister William Harrington is among those who are extremely worried and says that the government wants the public and business to come up with a solution.
The main cause is tree clearing for commercial agriculture, wood fuel and late season fires.

Forestry industries corporation managing director Jones Sichinga says that the problem is particularly bad close to cities and along railway lines.

According to the World Bank, agriculture has been growing by 7% a year and accounts for 90% of deforestation and fertility loss due to poor agricultural practices.

Wood fuel accounts for 71% of total energy consumption in the country. Last year the population of eight million was spread 40% in towns and 60% in the rural areas. The population growth rate was 3,6%, which ultimately led to an increase of 2,6% in the consumption of wood fuel.

About 70% of Zambians, living in poverty, have resorted to producing charcoal and scratching a living from the forests.

Oscar Kalumina of the Woodfuel Energy Development Project says charcoal consumption will have increased from 320 000 tonnes in 1969 to 870 000 tonnes by next year.

Professor Mwaindaace Siamwiza of the University of Zambia says that rural households consume 68% of the wood fuel. But he says that firewood use in rural households has a beneficial impact on the environment as it is usually dead wood from the forest floor, which minimises the effect of destructive fires.

But he says firewood used in towns comes from live trees. A survey of Kitwe showed that 95% of households used charcoal for cooking, even some that had electricity. The reason is that it is cheaper.

Evidence that large areas are becoming barren is found everywhere. Communities have abandoned their traditional homes, fleeing impoverished soils in Southern Province, and have set up home in previously uninhabited areas.

The development of coal briquettes has gone some way to lessening if not solving the problem. A project to make these has been started by the National Institute for Scientific and Industrial research.

The raw material is waste from the colliery at Maamba, molasses and bagasse from sugar cane processing at Nakambala, and lime from Ndola.

Previously the waste at Maamba was simply discarded and later burnt of its own accord, polluting the air and vegetation and killing fish in the nearby Kanzize River.

The briquettes can be used with an ordinary brazier or with a clay stove. But more will have to be done if Zambia is not to become a virtual desert.

AIA, August 11, 1999

ZAMBIA is a political powder keg following the murder on Wednesday night of Major Wezi Kaunda, son of former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda.
The Mail & Guardian has learned that the killing could be linked to moves aimed at ousting President Frederick Chiluba.

The alleged plot against Chiluba is believed to have been orchestrated by Angolan and Zimbabwean interests with Zambian malcontents as regional conflicts in Central African spill over into the Central African state.

South African intelligence agencies were carefully monitoring Lusaka after receiving information that a possible coup could be on the cards. Sources said reports had been received to the effect that Wezi Kaunda, a highly trained military man, had in recent months been involved in training guerrillas inside Angolan territory. These reports have not been confirmed.

Kaunda, a former army major, died in a Lusaka hospital early on Thursday morning, after four gunmen opened fired as he and his wife Didi returned home after visiting friends late on Wednesday night.

After shooting Kaunda, the gunmen fled in his luxury Land Cruiser, leaving his wife unharmed. The vehicle was later found abandoned and overturned by the side of a road. Latest reports indicate that police had arrested one suspect in the murder.

Earlier this year Angola publicly condemned the Chiluba regime at the United Nations for continuing to allow military assistance and logistical supplies to pass through Zambian territory into Unita-held country in the west of Angola.

This was in defiance of intensifying UN sanctions against Unita leader Jonas Savimbi's rebels. Former ministers in the Chiluba regime have been personally named as key players in arms, food and supply deals in exchange for Unita diamonds.

Recent developments in the Angolan civil war have rendered the Zambian connection even more critical. Following the destruction of his headquarters, Bailondo and Andulo, by the Angolan army FAA, Savimbi and his troops moved east to Moxico province, on the border with Zambia.

FAA officer Lieutenant General Matias Lima Coelho has claimed that the Central Highlands offensive has been successful. Unita's conventional warfare capacity has been broken. However, Unita's capacity for guerrilla warfare is likely to be maintained unless FAA is able to achieve significant gains over the next few weeks.

According to the UN's information service, renewed fighting is now concentrated in that region. Unita is attempting to rebuild the general staff of its destroyed military forces in the enclave of Cazombo, a major Unita base for many years, with a heavy-duty airstrip. Savimbi was said to be trapped in Moxico while trying to reach Zambia, where he had intended to take refuge.

The Angolan army now holds the nearby border town of Luau as part of a bid to prevent Unita regrouping in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Luau has a major road across the border. Government planes are thought to be making regular bombing runs on Cazombo out of Saurimo, the nearest military airport.

Although UN investigations have found no evidence of supplies to Unita via Zambia, regional security analysts and the Angolan government have long believed that this is Savimbi's last major remaining supply line.

Zambia has also been a diamond trading centre for Unita for a considerable time, with systems in place for the certification of illicit stones from Angola, and buyers positioned on the borders.

There have been unconfirmed reports of diamonds-for-arms trades at N'dola airport, on behalf of Unita. The rebels' method is to pay for support by a cut of its diamond trade, as was the case with former president Mobutu Sese Seko's regime in Zaire.

Relations between Zambia and Angola came close to war earlier this year. Chiluba denied his government was aiding Unita. The Angolan government carried out illicit bombings in Lusaka early this year, to try to target Unita's allies in Zambia, and coerce the Zambian government into co-operation.

Relations after that apparently improved, with the Angolan government reluctantly accepting, in public at least, Chiluba's assurances that aid was not reaching Unita through Zambia.

Senior South African government officials said they were concerned about the effect the killing could have on the stability of Zambia and in the region. There are a number of possible explanations for the killing -- from political to plain criminal motivations.

Zambia has witnessed a number of murders of prominent individuals in recent years. Some have been related to drug trafficking, some the result of armed robbery and one or two have evidently been political.

Kaunda's murder bears uncomfortable similarities with an attempted assassination of his father, former president and now leader of Zambia's opposition United National Independence Party in April.

Kenneth Kaunda's Land Cruiser was also raked with gunfire. However, as advance intelligence had been received of the planned hit, Kaunda was not in the vehicle. Kaunda, president of Zambia for 27 years before standing down, has survived at least four other assassination attempts since re-entering politics in the mid-1990s.

The assassination this week closely follows the visit to Chiluba by South African President Thabo Mbeki last month, which symbolised a warming of relations between the two countries. Relations between Mbeki and Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos, on the other hand, have been strained, with Luanda calling for anti-South African sanctions on the basis that the Mbeki government was not doing enough to stop the arms flow to Unita.

Poor relations between Angola and South Africa were said to be improving, however, following the visit of João Lorenço, special envoy from Dos Santos, who met Mbeki.

The South African government agreed it needed to institute sanctions against Unita more vigorously, and that aid was reaching Savimbi from South Africa. But the situation is complicated by personality politics. Mbeki, according to diplomats, has little affinity with his Angolan counterpart, Dos Santos.

During his state visit to Zambia, Mbeki expressed his support for Chiluba's attempts to bring to an end the war in the Congo on behalf of the Southern African Development Community, and for the quality of Chiluba's leadership.

The Mail & Guardian, November 5 1999

MAJOR hospitals in Zambia have been crippled by a strike by junior doctors which clocked its tenth day on Friday.
Patients have not been treated and the government, which issued an ultimatum for the 3 000 junior doctors to return to work by Wednesday, remained mute on its next move.

Junior doctors association chairman Canisius Banda said the strike would continue until the government met their demands.

"We have reached a point of no return. Even if we are to go back to the wards, there are no drugs to give patients," he said.

Most departments at major hospitals have not operated during the past week as senior doctors attended only to emergencies and critical cases.

Senior doctors have meantime appealed to their juniors to call off the strike for the sake of patients.

"Let's go back to the wards. It's people who are suffering and not the government," Francis Manda chairman of the senior doctors association said.

The government has remained quiet despite the deteriorating situation in major hospitals.

Zambian junior doctors have been on strike since December 21 in protest at their pay, conditions and working hours.

AFP, December 31 1999.

ZAMBIA is slowly becoming bare land, the first step of turning into a desert, by losing thousands hectares of forest every year.
If this situation continues, environmental experts say, Zambians will one day become "environmental refugees" searching for more fertile land.

Through the felling of trees for wood, charcoal production, expansion and over-exploitation of agricultural land and timber, the country is losing about 300 000 hectares of forest cover annually, according to official estimates from the ministry of environment and natural resources.

Nations across the globe have been blind to nature's limits. Many developing countries, in responding to their growing populations concentrated in urban areas, have cut down trees to pave way for both industrial and domestic infrastructure development.

This has been compounded by the dependence on forests for cheap wood-fuel by urban dwellers.

Analysts say deforestation is expected to worsen in 2000, given the current economic malaise in Zambia, characterised by poverty and unemployment.

The Zambian government recently said it had almost succeeded in curbing environmental abuse, but a lot of pressure has been exerted on these natural resources due to the increase in population.

The government controls about 7 million hectares of forest reserves, while clearing of more than 31 000 hectares has already been gazetted to allow for settlement.

Zambia, with a population of 10 million, covers an area of 755 000 square kilometers, of which 446 000 sq km or about 60% is covered by forest resources.

According to statistics, the country's population is likely to reach about 18-million in the next 20 years. And its growth rate has risen from 2,6% in 1969 to 3,1% today.

It is feared that by 2020, the population would have doubled, threatening the forestry products which the population will have to depend on to survive.

Some 70% of Zambians, living in abject poverty due to loss of jobs and many other contributing factors, have resorted to scratching a living through exploiting the most accessible and free resource - forests.

In Lusaka province, for instance, forests are being destroyed for commercial purposes as more and more people are being removed from formal-sector employment as a result of western-inspired economic reforms, mainly spearheaded by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

To create alternative means of livelihood, people have gone into production of charcoal to survive.

This charcoal, in turn, serves the country's major cities such as Lusaka, Kabwe in central Zambia, and Ndola and Kitwe in the northern mineral-rich region, because the majority of residents cannot afford the cost of electricity in their homes and shacks.

Charcoal consumption, as a major source of energy in most households, therefore accounted for about 90% in urban areas; while 98% of rural households use firewood as a source of energy for cooking, heating and lighting.

Charcoal-selling in Zambia has become a big business, with an estimated annual turnover of more than US$45-million.

Charcoal burning is also among the largest employer of both men and women in the informal sector.

"Charcoal burning has been our only source of funds since maize harvests dwindled," Fred Mwiya, a charcoal burner in Lusaka, said.

Statistics show that charcoal consumption has increased from 0,32 million tons in 1969 to 0,47 million tons in 1980 and 0,6 million tons in 1990, and is projected to increase to 0,87 million tons and 1,16 million tons by 2000 and 2010 respectively.

Zambian Scientists at the National Council for Scientific Research, who were to have come up with alternatives to firewood and charcoal, confess they are still a long way from finding a suitable and lasting solution to the problem.

In a bid to arrest the escalating deforestation, the ministry of environment and natural resources is working on various programmes aimed at community participation in natural resource conservation programmes.

According to the ministry's senior extension assistance officer in the forest department, Justin Zulu, one of the ways to discourage deforestation will be the establishment of the new forest commission in 2000, which will emphasise the need for community participation in conservation of natural resources and the whole environment.

Pana, January 18 2000.

A senior Zambian official says poverty is continuing to spread across the country, with nearly three quarters of the population affected.

David Diangamo, director of the central statistics office, said some seven million out of the country's ten million people were living in abject poverty - with rural areas hardest hit.

Mr Diangamo said government measures had proved inadequate and were poorly implemented.

The deputy finance minister, Godfrey Simasiku, admitted that poverty had become deeply entrenched among the majority of Zambian people.

But he said the government was committed to reducing the level to fifty per cent in the next four years.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

RETURNING from a regional conference in Egypt late on Tuesday, President Frederick Chiluba told reporters that Zambia had been formally asked to contribute 800 soldiers to the peacekeeping effort in Sierra Leone and they would head there in the coming weeks.
Chiluba said Zambia anticipated a call-up for its troops for service in President Laurent Kabila's Congo, where he brokered a peace pact last year. Ceasefire protocols within that agreement, however, have been repeatedly violated in recent months.

"We will contribute 800 troops to the peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone at the request of the United Nations," Chiluba said. "We will also be contributing troops to the Congo. Basically, we are a peacekeeping nation."

The United Nations has a 6 000-strong peacekeeping force in Sierra Leone where a ceasefire agreed between government and rebel forces is frequently violated.

Last week, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution to send an initial observer force of 5 500 to monitor the ceasefire in the Congo. Zambia was not in the initial list of countries expected to contribute troops to the force.

The UN has sought and received security guarantees for its personnel in the Congo, but African leaders say if they could actually guarantee peace in Africa's third largest nation, then there would be no need for UN officials in the first place.

Senior regional military analysts also say the figure of 5 500 is just too small, and envisage the United Nations agreeing to the deployment of more troops once it was evident that those already serving were making some progress.

Congo's civil war has drawn troops from Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe in support of Kabila against splintered rebel groups backed by Rwanda and Uganda.

The governments involved in the war signed an accord brokered by Chiluba last July and rebel leaders endorsed it in August. But fighting has nevertheless continued, and the war has cost thousands of life and uprooted a million people.

A summit on the Congo in Zambia last week endorsed a revised calendar for the implementation of the Lusaka peace accord, and made March 1 the date for the commencement of activities under the pact.

Reuters, March 1/2000.

More than 12,000 people in Zambia are at risk of starvation in the Lower Zambezi area following the opening of the Kariba Dam gates more than a week ago.

A year's supply of food for thousands of people who farm along the banks of the Zambezi River was wiped out in just nine hours after the dam gates were opened.

Crops of maize, bananas, pumpkins and ground nuts were submerged by the rising water levels.
Gates at the Kariba dam were opened a week ago
Local people have been so desperate to salvage any of the precious food that they have been diving from canoes to try to harvest the underwater crops.

However, this has proved a risky undertaking - at least one farmer has been attacked and seriously injured by a crocodile.

Local leaders are now warning that without urgent supplies of food, the people of the Lower Zambezi will starve.

Heavy rain
The overspill gates at Kariba were opened because heavy rain further up the Zambezi led to fears that the dam might burst, causing a major catastrophe throughout the region.

But little thought appears to have been given to the impact on the subsistence farmers further down the river.

Local people complain they were given very little information about the operation and there certainly seems to be no contingency plan in place to help people or businesses affected by the dramatic rise in water levels.

The Lower Zambezi is one the premier holiday destinations in Zambia and many of the tourist lodges which contribute vital income to the country have been flooded.

The Zambian Government, which has donated $1m in medical supplies and food to neighbouring Mozambique, has still to act to help its own people.

Despite the visits of government ministers and the establishment of an emergency committee, major assistance has yet to be delivered to the people of the Lower Zambezi.

BBC, MARS 2000


Afrique : histoire, economie, politique

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