31 January 2000
Malawi to ratify SADC Trade Protocol
Malawi will ratify the SADC trade protocol in February, a senior trade official has disclosed.
Geofrey Mkandawire, director of commerce, said the move will make the country eligible for a preferential regional trade arrangement within the 14-member economic bloc.
"Malawi is currently processing the instrument of ratification which will be deposited with the SADC secretariat before the end of February," he added. At least five SADC members - South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana and Mauritius - have already ratified the protocol.
The commerce director said if Malawi had ratified the protocol by 1 September 2000, its import duty would have been reduced by 10 percent by now.
"The 10 percent reduction is an aggregate figure for products regarded as least sensitive," he said. Goods are labelled under three categories: least sensitive, sensitive and most sensitive.
Meanwhile, SADC trade ministers are expected to converge in South Africa in February to iron out unresolved issues surrounding the protocol. (PANA)
Namibia not breaking Landmines Treaty
The Namibian army has denied accusations that it has violated an international ban on landmines by bringing the deadly weapons into Namibia after seizing them from the Angolan rebel group, Unita, and by allowing the Angolan army to use the country to transfer the explosives back home.
The National Society for Human Rights (NSHR), citing the Namibia Defence Force's (NDF) displaying of landmines taken from Unita in Angola, said authorities were violating the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction.
The human rights organisation said Namibia, which ratified the convention in September 1998, had ignored the agreement that bans the acquisition, retention and transfer of anti-personnel mines.
But a Ministry of Defence spokesman, Frans Nghitila, said: "Anti-personnel mines brought into Namibia were not meant for any other purpose than just to display ...that these are the weapons used to maim our people."
Nghitila said it was not a transfer because the mines were not meant for offensive purposes. "Our position is that we cannot use them. We destroy them. We are not violating anything." (The Namibian)
UN involved in forging gender policy in
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Swaziland, in collaboration with UNESCO, UNIFEM and the World Bank, intends taking an innovative approach to assist the country in examining gender issues and formulating a national gender policy.
The initiative, known as "An Integrated Approach to Gender Equality in Swaziland," was launched in August 2000 with the endorsement and participation of the government and is already showing results, UNDP claims.
It has led to a greater understanding of gender issues among government agencies and highlighted the importance of incorporating gender concerns in all planning activities. There is increasing use of culture as an entry point for addressing gender issues, since cultural norms often affect social practices and policies.
The UN agencies have also developed a core group of trainers with skills in key areas, including social and economic gender analysis, gender focused responses to HIV/AIDS, gender and development communications, and rural communications. (IRIN)
World Bank asks Zambia to honour agreements on privatisation
The World Bank has called on the Zambian government to honour all past agreements and commitments to the privatisation of various state companies.
The Bank's Resident Representative in the capital Lusaka, Laurence Clarke, made the call in response to recent remarks by President Frederick Chiluba.
"We expect that the government of Zambia would continue to respect and honour all past agreements and commitments it has made on this matter with the World Bank and other co-operating partners, under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) or elsewhere," Clarke said in a statement.
Chiluba recently revealed that the government would contest the sale of the remaining six strategic companies including the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation, Zambia National Commercial Bank, Zambia National Oil Company and the Zambia Telecommunications Company, because the firms were critical to the security of the country.
Other companies that government would not privatise are the Indeni Oil Refinery and Tanzania-Zambia Railways Authority.
Chiluba said donors who are calling for the privatisation of the remaining six strategic utilities would find it difficult to convince him to sell the companies, saying that some investors had shown no interest in Zambia and were only bent on making profits to enrich themselves and their countries.
Zambia has privatised more than 90 percent of its parastatals in the last few years but citizens are not reaping the benefits of privatisation because the owners are externalising all earnings, he said. (PANA/SARDC).