Stories written by Mercedes Sayagues
In her 20 years in Africa, Mercedes Sayagues has survived stepping barefoot on a 10 centimeter-long scorpion in the Kalahari Desert, being taken hostage by Unita in Kuito during Angola’s civil war and being expelled by Robert Mugabe from Zimbabwe in 2001 for reporting on human rights abuses. She is a Knight Health Fellow in Mozambique since 2010, with a focus on improving health reporting. Her previous post was editor in chief of the Irin/PlusNews Portuguese service, from 2005 until 2008. A Uruguayan-born journalist, Mercedes specialises in AIDS, gender, sexuality, health, humanitarian issues and human rights. She has written studies on AIDS policies in Senegal and Uganda and on investment in Mali for the South African Institute for International Affairs at Wits University. She enjoys writing quirky personal columns in South Africa’s Mail & Guardian and at IPS’s collective gender blog. Mercedes is an experienced media trainer, having facilitated more than 20 courses for the NSJ in Maputo, Mozambique and Fojo, Sweden as well as for UNICEF and UNAIDS. She has also produced two manuals on reporting on HIV/AIDS, one in Portuguese for UNESCO/NSJ in 2001 and one in English for PlusNews in 2008. Sayagues has an M.A. in Journalism from New York University and is fluent in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian.

RIGHTS-ZIMBABWE: Denying Women The Right To Inherit Sparks Debate

The recent, widely publicised Magaya vs. Magaya ruling of the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe that denied women the right to inherit under customary law has fueled a review of the interface between customary and general law as regards women.

ENVIRONMENT-MOZAMBIQUE: Campaigners Halt Danish-Funded Project

Environmental and community activists have succeeded in halting a controversial Danish-funded project to burn obsolete pesticides at a cement factory in Matola, 15 kms from the Mozambican capital of Maputo.

DEVELOPMENT: Landmines — Should Offenders Be Penalised ?

One pressing question remains unanswered at the first meeting of state parties to the Convention to ban landmines that ended Friday in the Mozambican capital of Maputo: how to penalise countries that signed the convention but continue to lay antipersonnel landmines.

ZIMBABWE-HEALTH: Drying Agents Linked to STDs, HIV

With a knowing smile, the traditional medicine vendor in Mbare market here dispenses red, white or yellow powders at about one U.S. dollar per tablespoonful.


An ambitious festival designed to showcase theatrical talents in the Southern African region has been abandoned because of the eleventh hour refusal of donors to underwrite the costs.

MOZAMBIQUE-POLITICS: The Year of the Land Rush

As the deadline approaches for Mozambique's government to present a draft land act to parliament in time for its next session, at least one political group has intimated that it will oppose the bill.

MOZAMBIQUE-LAND: Big Business Versus Community Concerns

Bitterness flows in Samuel Pedro's voice as he tells how he lost his land twice in the last six years, first to a powerful Mozambican businessman, then to a South African investor.

ARCHITECTURE-ZIMBABWE: Termites Inspire New Office Complex

The humble termite nest has inspired the architecture and ventilation system of Zimbabwe's latest and largest office complex and shopping mall.


A holy row has erupted in Mozambique over a Bill that makes public holidays of two Muslim festivals, highlighting the country's political and religious divisions.


The settlement of 1,000 white South African farmers in Mozambique's northern province of Niassa is about to become a reality.


A holy row has erupted in Mozambique over a Bill that makes public holidays of two Muslim festivals, highlighting the country's political and religious divisions.

MOZAMBIQUE-CHILDREN: Cleansing Rites to Heal Boy Soldiers

Nightmares haunted Santo Castigo Mabote, known as "Santinho", in the first months back with his family in Khongolote, on the outskirts of Mozambique's capital.

MOZAMBIQUE-DEVELOPMENT: Battling For Rights To The Land

Jacob Tembe worries because he does not have the title deeds to the four hectares of land his family has farmed for generations at Massoane, 45 kms south of here.

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