LUSAKA – The Government of ZAMBIA has warned its nationals to avoid involvement in efforts to eject CHINESE investors from the country through violent actions.

Justice Minister GIVEN LUBINDA says there is an economic war against CHINA, and it is wrong for nationals of his SADC country to join such a fight.

He has described it as unfortunate that some ZAMBIANS are taking the law in their own hands by attacking the foreigners who have come into the country to invest.

Minister LUBINDA says recent xenophobic attacks on CHINESE nationals are unfortunate, and he has urged citizens to use better means to channel their grievances if they have any.

However, he says ZAMBIA has adequate laws to guarantee the safety of investors, domestic and foreign.

Minister LUBINDA says it is saddening some political leaders are inciting ZAMBIANS to rise against the State decision to engage the CHINESE in some developmental projects.

He has made the statement in the ETHIOPIAN capital, ADDIS ABABA, shortly before going to ROME for 10TH Anniversary of the Campaign against the Death Penalty.

The police have reportedly arrested the opposition UNITED PARTY FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT leader for allegedly encouraging attacks against CHINESE nationals.

Media reports say HAKAINDE HICHILEMA, who last year spent FOUR months in detention for alleged treason, has since been set free.

They quote COPPERBELT Provincial Police Chief CHARITY KATANGA as saying the politician allegedly accused the State of selling a national timber company to the CHINESE.

The official says the statement caused street protests in the SECOND largest city, KITWE, where some CHINESE businesses were looted before the arrest of scores of protesters.

News agencies say anti-CHINESE sentiments in ZAMBIA have increased over lucrative contracts CHINA is securing from the government, which is also borrowing heavily from BEIJING.

Other earlier reports say the ZAMBIAN Mission in CHINA has dismissed a story about a ZAMBIAN student allegedly was brutally beaten and is battling for his life in the ASIAN country.

They say Acting Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary WINNIE CHIBESAKUNDA has trashed the allegations after having contacted the ZAMBIAN Mission in BEIJING.

The developments in ZAMBIA come amid heightening anti-CHINESE propaganda casting CHINESE nationals in bad light following a ruthless global economic war for influence between CHINA and the WEST.

In JULY this year, the SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST reported the engagement with AFRICA has fast-tracked over the decades as the CHINA eyes the world’s SECOND largest continent for chances for economic growth and geopolitical influence.

It says the visits by President XI JINPING to SENEGAL, RWANDA, SOUTH AFRICA, and MAURITIUS were his FIRST overseas trips in 2018, aimed to build ties as well as extend CHINESE influence in AFRICA.

CHINESE investments in ZAMBIA range from mining interests in the COPPERBELT to assets in agriculture, manufacturing, as well as tourism; and as of FEBRUARY 2011, CHINESE are running a total of 25 farms in ZAMBIA./Sabanews/cam



SWAKOPMUND – The SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY Committee of Ministers of Justice and Attorneys-General is this year meeting in NAMIBIA.

SADC Legal Committee members (Pic. SADC)

The gathering in the NAMIBIAN coastal city of SWAKOPMUND comes amid increasing demand for justice in different social areas within member states and across borders.

NBC News says the delegates aim to implement the regional action plan designed to deal with a host of burning legal matters in the 16-member economic bloc.

It says issues to receive attention at the meeting are money laundering and terrorism funding; child abduction; human trafficking; gender-based violence; other organised crime, as well as regional, mutual legal cooperation.

The Acting Senior Legal Counsel of the Committee, NTHABISENG LIPHAPANG of LESOTHO, says the delegates will come up with recommendations on how to implement such pressing matters.

The official says their proposals will in turn help the SADC Secretariat and member states with a clear direction on the way forward.

Secretariat Legal Matters Chairperson BERDINE FOURIE of SOUTH AFRICA has handed over the chair to in the NAMIBIAN Ministry of Justice Permanent Secretary ISSASKAR NDJOZE during the meeting.

Meanwhile, NAMIBIA has been hosting the Committee of Ministers of Justice and Attorneys-General meeting at a time it is facing serious legal problems regarding the distribution of land in the country.

Most of the cases are linked to the events dating as far back as 1884, when GERMANY colonised the territory; during which the black population lost its homes and became farm labourers for the invaders or simply wondered from ONE place to another.

This week the WINDHOEK High Court has started hearing a case by EIGHT members of the HAI||OM SAN community, the largest and most widely dispersed SAN population in NAMIBIA.

NBC News says the complainants are seeking permission from the judges to apply for a Class Action Lawsuit on behalf of their ethnic community against the Government.

It says they are reclaiming ownership of the land covering the ETOSHA National Park and the MANGETTI WEST area north of TSUMEB Town in OSHIKOTO Region.

Long displaced San community living destitute lives (Pic. Agencies)

The national broadcaster says the majority of the people now live as farm workers, and they are demanding compensation or land measuring the size as the MANGETTI WEST and ETOSHA National Park.

It says the HAI||OM claim their ancestors are the original inhabitants of land of both the ETOSHA NATIONAL Park and MANGETTI WEST, before colonial governments forcefully evicted them without any alternative land to settle on.

There are about SIX-THOUSAND-500 HAI||OM SAN community members scattered across the country, and some TWO-THOUSAND-476 of them have agreed to support the plea to be represented by the EIGHT persons to restore their ancestral land rights.

Researchers say like many other SAN peoples in Southern AFRICA, the HAI||OM were dispossessed, marginalised, and discriminated against by other groups and by the colonial state.

They say the SOUTH WEST AFRICA Administration in 1949, appointed a Commission for the Preservation of the BUSHMEN under a former STELLENBOSCH University Professor, PIETER JOHANNES SCHOEMAN.

P J Schoeman, one of the architects of apartheid in SOUTH AFRICA (Pic. Agencies)

Professor SCHOEMAN is reportedly ONE of the architects of apartheid in SOUTH AFRICA, and the final report of his Commission that came out in 1953 ignored the HAI||OM, because he did not see them as authentic BUSHMEN.

Legal commentators say it is high time regional gatherings like the Committee of Ministers of Justice and Attorneys-General meeting in NAMIBIA come up with practical ways to correct such gross legal imbalances in the SADC countries./Sabanews/cam



VICTORIA – The largest photovoltaic, PV, farm in SEYCHELLES has now completely solar powered the isolated island of ALPHONSE.

Island nation taken over by solar power (Pic. SNA)

SNA quotes a top official of the Islands Development Company as saying the development means people here no longer need diesel fuel to make electricity.

The national news agency says the firm has installed a total of TWO-THOUSAND-220 dual glass high-efficiency solar panels on ZERO-POINT-SEVEN hectares of land: HALF towards the east and the other HALF towards the west, to produce electricity for the whole island.

The project is an initiative of the Islands Development Company as a source of alternative energy to cut costs and reduce the amount of heavy diesel fuel used to power TWO generators.

SNA says the scheme will also help to protect the environment from pollution, quoting Chief Executive Officer GLENNY SAVY as saying it is a real cost efficient plan that will save the ALPHONSE Island a lot of money.

He says they have used only FIVE barrels of fuel to power the standby generators for the past months as compared to FIVE and SEVEN barrels of fuels used every day previously.

Located 400 kilometres south-west of MAHE, the main island, the ALPHONSE atoll is part of the ALPHONSE group including ST FRANCOIS and BIJOUTIER, and the island has a single resort comprising beach bungalows and suites.

The authorities say their Green Energy Project is a combination of solar panels and lithium batteries for storage, covering 90 percent of the island’s energy use.

They say the solar panels produce around 800 kilowatts of electricity per day, more than 50 percent above the normal total power used daily on ALPHONSE.

Mr SAVY says the initiative will not only save money they pay for fuel consumption but also that which is going towards the transportation of the fuel to the island.

He says the Islands Development Company is making a profit by selling the electricity that it is producing, and the money will go towards infrastructure development on the island.

Financed by a SOUTH AFRICAN company METTLE SOLAR INVESTMENTS, the PV farm cost ONE-POINT-FIVE-MILLION US dollars – with the Islands Development Company injecting a total 37-THOUSAND US dollars.

Environment, Energy, and Climate Change Minister WALLACE COSGROW says the project is ONE that other islands, as well as Mahe, which can ONE day be fully powered by renewable energy, can follow.

Besides ALPHONSE, a similar photovoltaic farm will be set on ASTOVE and FARQHUAR islands by MARCH 2019 and the bigger one on DESROCHES island by JULY next year.

SNA says by early 2020, all islands under the management of Islands Development Company will be 90 percent powered by green energy.

The SADC country, a group of 115 islands on the western INDIAN Ocean, relies heavily on imported fossil fuel for power generation and transportation; and only TWO-POINT-FIVE percent of its electricity is from renewable sources.

The national news agency also says the authorities expect the TWO-POINT-FIVE percent to increase to FIVE percent in the coming THREE years, with a number of renewable energy projects.

SEYCHELLES is also planning to install AFRICA’s FIRST utility-scale Floating Solar Photovoltaic system on the lagoon at LE ROCHER, in the district of LES MAMELLES./Sabanews/cam



ANTANANARIVO – MADAGASCAR is likely to see TWO former presidents competing in a possible run-off election next month.

One of the candidates in the hotly contested election (Pic. SNA)

SEYCHELLES News Agency, SNA, quotes other media reports as saying earliest results indicate ANDRY RAJOELINA has clinched 39-POINT-SIX-ONE percent against the 35-POINT-15 percent of MARC RAVALOMANANA.

It says the Independent National Electoral Commission had counted some 84 percent of the ballots in the FIRST round of the vote as of today (THURSDAY).

Former presidents RAJOELINA and RAVALOMANANA are heading for the SECOND round after beating outgoing President HERY RAJAONARIMAMPIANINA, who sits on the THIRD position out of 36 candidates – with EIGHT percent of the vote.

AFP news agency quotes MALAGASY political expert MAHERY LANTO MANANDAFY as saying given the results of the Electoral Commission, the SECOND round is now unavoidable.

The agency says the MALAGASY electoral regulations require the TWO frontrunners to go for a run-off by 19 DECEMBER, if neither manages more than 50 percent in the FIRST round.

However, it quotes yet another political commentator as saying anything is still possible if Mr RAJOELINA and RAVALOMANANA lodge a complaint in the courts.

TOAVINA RALAMBOMAHAY says everyone hopes to be elected in the FIRST round because a SECOND round ballot brings huge campaign costs.

AFP says MADAGASCAR is ONE of the poorest countries in the world, according to World Bank data, with almost FOUR in every FIVE people in the INDIAN Ocean island country living in grinding poverty.

Nevertheless, it says the candidates spent huge sums on flashy campaign rallies, helicopters and giveaways like free T-shirts for supporters; and the THREE leading contenders have accused electoral authorities of fraud and malpractice.

However, the news report does not give any further details about the alleged deception and misconduct by the voting managers.

Meanwhile, the EUROPEAN UNION Observer Mission reportedly has issued a statement saying while candidates committed breaches ahead of the SEVEN NOVEMBER election, the voting process was well organised largely.

Electoral Commission Vice President THIERRY RAKOTONARIVO has dismissed the alleged mismanagement of the process, saying all the results they have published are verifiable.

Both former presidents RAJOELINA and RAVALOMANANA were banned from contesting the last election in 2013 under international pressure, to avoid a repeat of political violence that engulfed MADAGASCAR in 2009.

AFP says Mr RAVALOMANANA, 68, and Mr RAJOELINA, 44, are bitter rivals who are facing each other for the FIRST time at the polls.

It says Mr RAVALOMANANA ruled from 2002 to 2009 until he was ousted in a military-backed coup that installed Mr RAJOELINA, who remained in power up to 2014.

Outgoing President RAJAONARIMAMPIANINA took over until earlier this year when he tried to change the electoral laws, a move that backfired and sparked about THREE months of often-violent demonstrations in the capital, ANTANANARIVO.

AFP says the demonstrators forced him to accept what they termed a consensus government to organise the election in the former FRENCH colony, which is burdened by a long history of coups and unrest.

AFRICAN UNION observers have called on the THREE leading presidential candidates in MADAGASCAR to show restraint and respect the law./Sabanews/cam



LUSAKA – President EDGAR LUNGU of ZAMBIA has called on agricultural producers in his country to adopt good farming practices in the wake of erratic rainfall patterns.

President Edgar Lungu admires a healthy maize crop (Pic. ZNBC)

He says communities should take up conservation farming and other modern forms of production to help mitigate the effects of Climate Change.

The Food and Agricultural Organisation says Conservation agriculture involves resource-saving, crop production that achieves acceptable profits.

The concept further promotes high and sustained production levels, while at the same time protecting the environment.

Zambians adopting conervation farming (Pic. ZNBC)

President LUNGA says shifting weather patterns have seen the northern HALF of the SADC country receive favourable downpours, while the south is experiencing erratic rains.

ZNBC News says he has launched the 2018 to 2019 Planting Season in the MWINILUNGA District of the NORTH WESTERN Province, pledging to accelerate development of the agriculture sector in area.

It quotes the Head of State as saying the region is blessed with rich soils as well as abundant rains, and the government wants to exploit the situation for the benefit of the whole country.

President LUNGA says his vision is to transform the NORTH WESTERN Province into the national food basket, calling on residents to use the good natural resources and the favourable rainfall patterns to increase agricultural production.

He also says traditional leaders should embrace both domestic and foreign investors who may be interested in funding agricultural production.

Comments by the ZAMBIAN Leader come amid reports saying most of the SADC Region is likely to receive normal to below-normal rains between OCTOBER and DECEMBER, with above normal rainfall over the northern HALF of TANZANIA.

The SADC Secretariat says JANUARY to MARCH 2019 period will witness normal to below normal rainfall for most of the 16-member economic bloc.

It says Northern ANGOLA, Central DRC, South-western TANZANIA, Northern MALAWI, and the islands states of COMOROS, MAURITIUS, Eastern MADAGASCAR and SEYCHELLES are likely to receive normal to above normal rainfall throughout.

Mean temperatures will be normal to above normal for most of the 2018 to 2019 season over the entire SADC Region, except for North-eastern DRC, North-western TANZANIA, Southern MOZAMBIQUE.

Other SADC countries likely to have above normal temperatures are ESWATINI, Central and Eastern SOUTH AFRICA, Northern LESOTHO, South-west of BOTSWANA, Southern NAMIBIA, and North-western SOUTH AFRICA.

Climate Change, resulting from the warming up of the globe due to the depletion of the ozone layer (a thin blanket protecting the EARTH from the direct rays of the SUN) through gaseous pollution, has not spared Sub-SAHARAN AFRICA./Sabanews/cam



SESFONTEIN – NAMIBIA has reported an outbreak of anthrax in the SESFONTEIN Area of the north-western region of KUNENE.

Their livestock is in danger from anthrax (Pic. Agencies)

Ministry of Agriculture Public Relations Officer MAGRETH KALO has issued a statement saying the outbreak has affected at least 13 people in SESFONTEIN.

She says 35 community members also ate meat from livestock that died in the SESRIEM veld area, but there has been no report of human deaths so far.

However, a total of 92 small stock like goats, THREE head of cattle and THREE donkeys died of anthrax at the beginning of this month in SESFONTEIN.

Ms KALO says the Agriculture and Health ministries are collaborating in efforts to contain the outbreak and have informed all farmers and other people in the area about the dangers of the disease.

Medical experts say anthrax symptoms and signs in humans include swollen and painful lymph glands, vomiting, abdominal pain, headaches, loss of appetite, fever, and sore throats.

NBC News says veterinary officers are investigating the disease within a radius of 30 kilometres of affected kraals, vaccinating exposed cattle, sheep, and goats in and around.

Meanwhile, more than 200 families in the neighbouring region of OHANGWENA have refused to barred health teams spraying against malaria into their homes.

The national broadcaster says the indoor residual spraying campaign started about TWO months ago, with the aim to scale up malaria control and eliminate the disease.

However, it says the efforts will not produce the desired results after some communities have refused to cooperate with the spray teams.

The Health and Social Services Ministry is also experiencing vehicle shortages, since it only has 20 of them available – as opposed to 43 required for 205 spray operators.

The Malaria Spray Program targets malaria-prone areas such as the NAMIBIA-ANGOLA Border, OKONGO and EENHANA municipalities.

The NAMIBIAN Anti-malaria campaign targets to spray more than 300-THOUSAND-500 households in OHANGWENA Region, which this year recorded ONE-THOUSAND-654 malaria cases and 29 fatalities./Sabanews/cam



Brigadier-General Anselem Sanyatwe (Pic. The Herald)

HARARE – Military officials in ZIMBABWE have dismissed reports claiming their soldiers killed civilians during violent protests that nearly shut down the capital, HARARE, on ONE AUGUST.

The Tactical Commander of the National Reaction Force, who is also the Presidential Guard Commander, says he was in charge of the military operations to reinforce the police on the fateful day.

Brigadier-General ANSELEM SANYATWE has told the Commission of Inquiry into the disturbances his troops only fired warning shots into the air, not at the rioting crowds scattered around the city.

He says the videos circulating in the media, showing a soldier kneeling on the ground and appearing to be firing at the rioters, are not proof that the military killed anyone on the day.

Brigadier-General SANYATWE emphasises the military details he deployed in THREE sectors in HARARE did not open fire to kill but to disperse the crowd.

He says the soldiers were under the command of high ranking and experienced officers who are aware of the rules of engagement, either during civil unrests or in real combat.

Moreover, given the fact that the soldiers were carrying AK-47 assault rifles, people would have witnessed serious carnage if anyone of them had fired into the crowds – because the gun has serious impact.

Violent demonstrators set Harare on fire (Pic. Agencies)

The army also says it cannot rule out the possibility that the SIX people who were killed in the ONE AUGUST post-election violence could be victims of a militant group in the MDC ALLIANCE.

Brigadier-General SANYATWE says the group, known as the VANGUARD, is violent and obviously includes trained former members of the national army and police, who are able to use firearms.

He says what also further shows his soldiers killed no one during the demonstrations is that a number of journalists decided to report the events while taking cover behind the military lines.

Therefore, the reporters should have been able to capture people falling from AK-47 bullets and bodies lying in pools of blood if the troopers really opened fire into the crowds.

Brigadier-General SANYATWE says he does not give much consideration to the video clip that has gone viral on social media, because no civilian has the guts to film such military operations.

The Commission, set up to probe the cause of the violence and whether or not the reaction by the military was proper, has also head the testimony of Defence Forces Commander General PHILLIP VALERIO SIBANDA.

Defence Forces Commander General Phillip Valerio Sibanda (Pic. The Herald)

He has accused the MDC ALLIANCE of preaching violence before, during, and after the 30 JULY General Elections each time they addressed their rallies, which led to the ONE AUGUST tragedies.

General SIBANDA says the opposition leader, NELSON CHAMISA, and his colleagues had planned to plunge the country into bloody clashes if they lost the polls; and when they realised they were losing, they sent riotous youths into the streets of HARARE on the day.

He says the police had to call for help from the military after the violent crowds, who were now burning and looting in a bid to shut down the city, had overpowered the law-enforcement agents.

General SIBANDA says members of the National Reaction Force had strict orders never to shoot at the demonstrators, and they never killed anyone.

He has also emphasised if the circulating video was authentic, the soldier shown kneeling and seemingly shooting into the crowd would have killed quite a huge number of people with such rapid fire.

General SIBANDA says anyone, members of the public, observers who witnessed the ballots, as well as journalists who covered them, who have evidence of his soldiers’ killing people, should come forward with it.

Despite having issued a joint media statement with the police to appeal to people with such evidence either vehicle number plates, names of soldiers, or anything, to furnish them with such information, no one has brought anything.

General SIBANDA also says he is disappointed that none of the many foreign observers, foreign journalists, and embassies, who witnessed the elections, ever denounced the pre-election opposition threats of violence.

Only THREE groups visited him, surprisingly to find out if the military would accept MDC ALLIANCE Leader CHAMISA if he won the presidential poll; to which he answered soldiers would abide by the Constitution.

General SIBANDA says the authorities are determined to find out the real architects of the violence as well as the killers of the SIX people, and the culprits will definitely be in police custody eventually.

The 2018 Post-Election Violence Commission of Inquiry in ZIMBABWE has interviewed a cross-section of people from mid-OCTOBER, but it is not likely to conclude its work soon – given the bulk of evidence the team has to consider before reporting./Sabanews/cam



Horror crash in Eastern Zimbabwe (Pic. The Herald)

RUSAPE – At least 47 people have been killed and 70 others injured after TWO buses collided head-on just outside the Eastern ZIMBABWE town of RUSAPE.

Media reports say TWO of the passengers killed in the crash, which occurred towards sunset, were small children.

They say the horrific accident took place at the 166th-kilometre peg along the HARARE-MUTARE Road, THREE kilometres after RUSAPE towards the capital city.

THE HERALD has named the involved buses as BOLT CUTTER and SMART EXPRESS, whose driver was overtaking a haulage truck when he smashed into the oncoming BOLT CUTTER vehicle.

It quotes National Police Spokesperson Assistant Commissioner PAUL NYATHI as saying the number of the dead is likely to rise, as the authorities have still been attending the accident.

MAKONI District Administrator DARLINGTON MUSEKA, who also chairs the District Civil Protection Unit, says RUSAPE General Hospital mortuary has been overwhelmed.

The State-owned daily also quotes him as saying they have had to engage NYARADZO Funeral Services for assistance.

RUSAPE District Medical Officer DR TENDAI NYAFESU says their mortuary is meant for 16 bodies, although they can stretch it to take up to as many as 36.

THE HERALD further quotes ONE official coordinating transport for the injured and the dead to hospital as saying the district is in shock over the horror accident.

The man, who the paper only names as Mr MUSEKA, says the incident is not something easy to accept.

THE HERALD crew of TENDAI MUGABE, SAMUEL KADUNGURE, and LOVEMORE KADZURA say they found the highway impassable when they arrived, with dead bodies, the injured, and their luggage scattered all over.

While other road users and passers-by helped carry the injured to hospital, the driver and conductor from the SMART EXPRESS Bus reportedly fled the scene.

The horror accident in Eastern ZIMBABWE comes as the SADC country approaches the festive and rainy seasons, with almost all its roads in both urban and rural areas are damaged dangerously./Sabanews/cam



Seychelles Coast Guard patrol ship Topaz which together with La Fleche intercepted the two Sri Lankan-Flagged vessels (Pic. SNA)

VICTORIA – The SEYCHELLES Coast Guard has arrested TWO fishing vessels carrying SRI LANKAN flags for alleged marine poaching.

National news agency, SNA says the Captain of ONE of the boats has since appeared in Court, charged with illegal fishing in the waters of the INDIAN Ocean island country.

It says another is still under police investigations, according to the SEYCHELLES People’s Defence Forces; which says local fishermen FIRST spotted the vessels around 90 nautical miles south-east of MAHE, the main island.

The Coast Guard Patrol Ship TOPAZ and Patrol Boat LA FLECHE intercepted the TWO boats, arrested and handed them over to the Fisheries Authority and the police at Port VICTORIA, the capital.

The SEYCHELLES Fisheries Authority says the Captain who has appeared in court will remain in custody until 19 NOVEMBER; and the authorities are still probing to see if there is enough evidence for a case against the other suspect.

It says it is assisting the police in gathering evidence as to the species and amount of fish found on board the TWO vessels.

SNA says if confirmed, the case will be the THIRD incident of illegal fishing by SRI LANKAN-flagged vessels this year in the waters of SEYCHELLES.

The news agency also quotes the SRI LANKAN channel, ITN News, as saying a group of SRI LANKAN fishermen has been slapped with a fine of ONE-POINT-FIVE-MILLION US dollars for violating SEYCHELLES maritime borders.

It says the media house quotes the SRI LANKAN High Commissioner to SEYCHELLES as saying the Courts have also confiscated their boats, but the crimes continue.

The Coast Guard Patrol Ship ANDROMACHE spotted another SRI LANKAN-flagged vessel during a routine patrol in JULY north-west of the main island of MAHE.

A Coast Guard team that subsequently boarded the suspected boat carried out an inspection and discovered evidence of illegal fishing in the SADC nation.

Authorities have difficulties with the vast Exclusive Economic Zone of ONE-POINT-FOUR-MILLION square kilometres, which is hard to monitor for illegal fishing, adding pressure on the available resources.

Fishing is the SECOND top contributor to the economy of SEYCHELLES, a group of 115 islands in the western INDIAN Ocean./Sabanews/cam



MCHINJI – The YOUTH NETWORKING AND COUNSELLING of MALAWI has accused parents in the central district of MCHINJI of promoting early child marriages and unplanned pregnancies.

The girl child needs protection so as to complete school (Pic. Agencies)

The group has launched a campaign after realising a number of children are failing to access information on their Sexual Reproductive Health Rights due to parental resistance.

The program, with the theme: Marriage No Child’s Play, aims to bring awareness among children, especially girls, and their parents against such attitudes.

Project Officer TIONGE BANDA says the bulk of parents in MCHINJI are holding their kids from schemes that help prevent practices likely to lead to early and unplanned pregnancies.

He has addressed delegates to a meeting held at MKUMBA Primary School Grounds in Traditional Authority ZULU, saying the same parents are also victims of some outdated cultural and religious beliefs.

Mr BANDA says the YOUTH NETWORKING AND COUNSELLING would like to improve youth access to reproductive health information through the project, which receives funding from the SIMAVI group of NETHERLANDS.

He says the major aim is to raise awareness on Sexual Reproductive Health Rights among young people, as well as strengthen child protection system by engaging key stakeholders.

MBC News says Village Headman MKUMBA has commended the initiative, saying it will help communities come up with holistic measures for the safety of young children.

He says it is also the duty of local leaders to ensure young people in their areas know their Sexual Reproductive Health Rights, to reduce early and unplanned pregnancies – including child marriages.

Two victims of child marriages (Pic. Human Rights Watch) The 14-year-old girl in the picture is holding her baby at her sister’s home in Kanduku Village in Mwanza District of Malawi. She married in September 2013, but her husband chased her away. Her 15-year-old sister, in the background, married when she was 12. Both sisters said they married to escape poverty. Source: Human Rights Watch 2014

Given the gravity of the problem, the YOUTH NETWORKING AND COUNSELLING meeting has attracted traditional and religious leaders, as well as parents and young children.

A recent report by the UNITED NATIONS says child marriages are on the increase in MCHINJI District, and the world body predicts as much as 50 percent of children in MALAWI will have been married prematurely./Sabanews/cam