- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 8, 2004

ZIMBABWE

Bill gives Mugabe say over election

HARARE — The government has approved a draft bill that will give President Robert Mugabe the power to appoint key members of the commission overseeing parliamentary elections in March, the state-run Herald newspaper reported yesterday.

Under a draft version of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Bill adopted this week, “the president will appoint the chairperson of the commission … and four other commissioners from a list of seven nominees put forward by the Parliamentary Committee on Standing Rules and Orders,” the paper said.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change dismissed the draft bill as an attempt by the government “to pull the wool over the eyes of Zimbabweans and [the] international community.”

“It is quite clear that the chairperson of the commission … will be chosen by an interested party, namely the president,” said David Coltart, the MDC’s secretary for legal affairs.

BOTSWANA

AIDS billboards plug ruling party

GABORONE — Botswana AIDS organizations and opposition parties criticized the governing Botswana Democratic Party yesterday for putting up billboards that link a vote for the BDP to free anti-AIDS drugs.

The billboards — which feature a picture of Helen Ditsebe-Mhone, the first person in the country to publicly disclose she was HIV-positive in 1992 — is accompanied by the message: “Free HIV/AIDS drugs. Vote BDP.”

General elections are expected in late October, but the date has not been announced. The ad raises moral and ethical questions and is “a serious error of judgment,” said a statement signed by nongovernmental and AIDS organizations.

SOUTH AFRICA

Traditional healerscome into mainstream

JOHANNESBURG — The country’s 200,000 traditional healers are coming out of the shadows under legislation that aims to bring them into the health care system and weed out the quacks.

The Traditional Health Practitioner’s bill, which comes before Parliament today provides for creation of a council to oversee the licensing of traditional healers, who are consulted by about 70 percent of South Africans, the Health Ministry said.

Under the bill, only registered healers can practice medicine, and they will be barred from making diagnoses or treating terminal diseases. The South African Medical Association has welcomed the move to regulate the healers and make their practice safer for the public.

Weekly notes

Flags will fly at half-staff across South Africa and official funeral services will be held next week for Beyers Naude, the Afrikaner cleric. President Thabo Mbeki declared that a “special official funeral” would be held for Mr. Naude, who died in a retirement home Tuesday at age 89. Mr. Mbeki also ordered the national flag flown at half-staff from Sept. 17 to 20, when Mr. Naude’s body will be cremated and his ashes scattered across the Johannesburg township of Alexandra, where a black church took in the minister in 1963 after he quit the white nationalist Dutch Reformed Church for using the Bible to justify apartheid. … Mame Madior Boye, former prime minister of Senegal, has been appointed special African Union envoy to protect civilians in armed conflicts in Africa under a Canadian-funded project, an AU statement said yesterday.

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