Swazis have become acquainted with the term ''water rationing'' as they struggle to cope with one of the longest dry periods in memory. ''Water levels are down nationwide,'' said Jameson Mkhonta, public relations officer for the Swaziland Water Services Corporation, the parastatal water utility. ''The drought ... [has affected the entire country], and not just in the south and east where it is usually dry.''
More action is needed to protect civilians in the western Sudanese region of Darfur, who continue to suffer serious human rights violations in the ongoing conflict, a United Nations special rapporteur said in a preliminary report. Sima Samar, Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council, said Darfur remained a region where gross violations of human rights have been perpetrated by all parties to the conflict.
Fear has gripped opposition supporters in rural Zimbabwe after a police crackdown on the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the past few weeks. Dubani Mlotshwa, a small-scale farmer, said unknown assailants, whom he suspected were ruling Zanu-PF party agents, had visited his homestead and threatened his family for supporting the opposition.
Talks between the Ugandan government and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) have resumed in Juba, the capital of southern Sudan, despite accusations and counter-accusations of truce violations by both sides. An LRA spokesperson, Obonyo Olweny, said the talks, which have been marked by long delays between sessions, could derail if the government continues to violate a cessation of hostilities agreement signed on August 26.
Government failure to pay a Â 000 bill from a satellite company has brought Zimbabwe's internet services to a virtual standstill. Internet users have complained of long delays in sending and receiving emails, painfully slow browsing speeds and problems connecting to many websites.
Zambia's general election, set for September 28, is expected to be a bitter and closely contested affair. Political analysts believe the country's fourth multiparty poll since it emerged from 27 years of one-party rule in 1991 will be a hard-fought contest for the incumbent President Levy Mwanawasa of the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy, who is seeking a second and final term of office.
The Union of Islamic Courts, which controls the capital Mogadishu and much of south and central Somalia, issued a directive on Tuesday banning exports of charcoal and of rare birds and animals. The executive committee of the UIC issued the directive after a full committee meeting agreed to the ban, Sheikh Abdulkadir Ali Omar, the UIC vice-chairperson, said.
Authorities on Tanzania's semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar incinerated 61 000 chicken eggs on Tuesday in their continuing bid to check the threat of bird flu to the community. ''We seized the egg consignment imported from the Tanzanian mainland commercial capital of Dar es Salaam last weekend,'' said Khatib Suleiman Bakari.
United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan will send two senior UN officials to Eritrea and Ethiopia to assess the volatile border stand-off following a decision by the Eritrean government to expel personnel from the UN peacekeeping mission there. Annan has asked the head of the UN peacekeeping department, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, to leave as soon as practicable for the Horn of Africa.