- - Wednesday, October 3, 2012

BLANTYRE — Malawi President Joyce Banda announced that she will take a 30 percent pay cut to show that she will sacrifice personally as part of her government’s austerity measures.

Ms. Banda, Africa’s second female president after Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, came to power in April following the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika.

Ms. Banda and Vice President Khumbo Kachali both will cut their salaries by 30 percent, but Ms. Banda said she will not force the rest of her cabinet to do so, saying it is up to them to choose.

Ms. Banda confirmed that her government will sell the controversial presidential jet in two weeks.

The purchase of the jet three years ago by Mutharika angered donors. Ms. Banda said she will never fly in the plane, which she called wasteful.


Group: Mentally ill chained for months

ACCRA — Mentally ill patients suffer from severe abuse at psychiatric hospitals and so-called “healing centers” in Ghana, with many chained to trees and even denied water, a human rights group said this week.

Some 1,000 residents live in squalid, overcrowded quarters in Ghana’s three psychiatric hospitals, according to Human Rights Watch.

Patients face physical and verbal abuse, and some are given electroshock therapy without their consent, said the group’s report.

The abuse is even worse in healing centers known as “prayer camps,” which lack government oversight, it said.

Thousands of mentally disabled people in the West African nation are sent to the camps, usually by their family members to be “cured” by self-proclaimed prophets through miracles, prayer and fasting.

In most prayer camps, residents are only allowed to leave when the prophet deems them healed.

At the Mount Horeb Prayer Camp earlier this year, about 120 of the 135 residents there were chained to trees or to the walls inside cell-like rooms 24 hours a day, sometimes for months at a time, Human Rights Watch said. Most of the chains measured only 2 yards long.


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