REFUGEES SEEK SHELTER IN ZAMBIA
LUSAKA- About 300 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo have fled to northern Zambia this year, following skirmishes in rebel-controlled areas in their country.
Patrick Kawuma, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees protection, says that the refugees, mostly from the towns of Pweto, Kalemie and Moba, started coming into Zambia last month, after a group of Mai Mai militia fighters began terrorising them.
Last month, the UN agency's office at Kawambwa, a Zambian town situated about 40-kilometres from the border, recorded 267 new arrivals, while 67 refugees are reportedly at the border. The agency says that more refugees were expected to cross into Zambia.
Meanwhile, the World Food Programme say it will soon face a major food shortfall in its efforts to feed about 25 000 Congolese refugees living at the Kala Refugee Camp in Zambia. -SAPA-AFP
EU SAYS ZIMBABWE BY-ELECTION FLAWED
HARARE- Election observers say European diplomats were not allowed inside some polling stations in Zimbabwe during a parliamentary by-election to fill a seat left vacant after the death of Simon Muzenda, the Zimbabwean vice-president.
According to the Zimbabwean Election Support Network, EU diplomats were denied entry into some polling stations, despite a letter from the constituency registrar saying they were allowed access. The Zimbabwean Election Support Network is a network of 38 non-governmental organisations, which teamed up on the eve of the 2000 parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe.
Retired air marshal Josiah Tungamirai of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party and Crispen Musona from the main opposition Movement are contesting the poll for Democratic Change. -Sapa-AFP
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean government has launched a diplomatic offensive to try to stop the EU renewing sanctions against President Robert Mugabe.
The EU imposed travel and financial sanctions on Mugabe and dozens of top officials it accused of undermining democracy when Mugabe was re-elected in a 2002 poll. The government has reportedly deployed some of its most experienced officials to lobby the Union states to oppose a drive by Britain to renew the sanctions for another year later this month.
Political analysts say Mugabe could make progress in getting an ear from France, but that the EU as a whole is likely to extend the bans. -Sapa
MALAWI TO SUE VICE PRESIDENT
LILONGWE- Reports say the Malawian government will sue Justin Malewezi, the Malawian vice-president, over his controversial resignation from the ruling party, arguing that it makes him ineligible to continue in office until upcoming polls.
The case will start in the high court before a three-judge bench on Friday to challenge Malewezi's declaration that he would retire as first vice-president only after elections in May this year. Malewezi vacated his office last month therefore rendering the office of the vice president inactive. He resigned from the ruling United Democratic Front at the beginning of last month for personal reasons and later joined the small People's Progressive Movement. He later said the opposition party suited his integrity.
The Malawian constitution stipulates that the first vice president must come from the ruling party while the second vice president must come from the opposition. It also stipulates that the president can only appoint the first or second vice president in the event of death or resignation. -Sapa-AFP
UGANDA FIRE LEAVES THOUSANDS HOMELESS
LUANDA- A fire has destroyed much of the Pabbo Displaced People's Camp in northern Uganda, leaving more than 20 000 people homeless.
An army spokesperson says the fire started at dawn on Sunday and spread quickly and destroyed over 4 000 huts. Eyewitnesses blamed the army for the fire, saying that a soldier who was part of a search operation carelessly threw a match he used to light his cigarette. The army has denied the charge. They say they are investigating possibilities that someone started the fire for subversive objectives. -Sapa-AFP
AIDS REAKING HAVOC: SABCOHA
JOHANNESBURG- A South African Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS (SABCOHA) survey has found that AIDS is wreaking havoc in South Africa's manufacturing industry.
The survey says that the disease is reducing productivity and resulting in an increase in absenteeism amongst employees. The study shows companies located in the Kwa-Zulu Natal and Gauteng provinces are the worst affected and the Western Cape province is the least affected.
A SABCOHA spokesperson says many companies failed to take the necessary measures to mitigate the epidemic. -SABC
LEVIES GROUP DIGS FOR NAMIBIAN DIAMONDS
WINDHOEK- The Leviev Group of Israel has signed an agreement with the Namibian government giving it the right to mine for diamonds in Namibia.
Namibia is now the third country after Angola and Russia where diamond tycoon Lev Leviev has encroached on the business of De Beers, the South African company that has dominated diamond mining for more than a century. The Leviev Group, a former De Beers client, estimates the Namibian concessions have at least 12 million carats with an average value of 100 to $160 per carat. It estimates the value of the deal at about $1.56 billion in rough diamonds.
The Leviev Group is a private company based in Ramat-Gan, Israel, and specialises in the cutting and polishing of rough diamonds. It beautifies more than a billion dollars in diamonds annually. -Sapa-AP
NIGERIA DEFENDER BACK ON FIELD
Ifeanyi Udeze, the Nigerian defender, will get his first start in the African Nations Cup Group D match against Benin tomorrow after serving out a two-match ban.
The Greece-based player missed the matches against Morocco and South Africa after he was sent off in the final qualifying match against Angola at home in June last year. Nigeria, who have recorded three points in two matches, have to win against Benin to advance to the quarter-finals of the tournament. -Sapa-AFP
Meanwhile, the South African soccer squad says the resignation of Irvin Khoza, acting South African Football Association president, will not influence their performance at the African Cup of Nations. Bafana have to beat Morrocco 4-0 to qualify for the quarterfinals of the tournament. -SABC http://www.channelafrica.org/