Malawi president s cheap insult By Raphael Tenthani BBC, Blantyre Two young men have been fined 50 Malawi kwacha ($0.55) each for chanting anti-third termMessage 1 of 1046 , Mar 3, 2003View SourceMalawi president's cheap insult
By Raphael Tenthani
Two young men have been fined 50 Malawi kwacha
each for chanting anti-third term slogans and hurling
President Bakili Muluzi.
A Magistrates Court in the capital,
Lilongwe, found Emmanuel Mdoka
and Justin Kamanga guilty of
insulting the person and the office of
the president of the Republic of
The court heard that the young men, heading home from
spree in the small hours of 18 February, started
chanting that President
Muluzi should not be allowed to contest next year's
because, according to them, he was a thief.
This did not go down well with militant youths of the
Democratic Front known as Young Democrats.
The Young Democrats performed a citizens' arrest on
the drunk young
men and handed them over to police.
The two young men had to spend 10 days in police
custody before being
The Young Democrats testified in
court that they were so angered by
the insults that they arrested the
Mr Mdoka and Mr Kamanga denied
insulting the president or his office,
saying they made their confession to
police because they were tortured.
Mr Mdoka said he was tortured so
much that he developed epileptic
The magistrate told the young men that insulting the
head of state was a
serious offence. "You are young and disrespectful," he
told them, but he
added that they were lucky that parliament had decided
to classify their
crime as a misdemeanour.
The UDF is pushing for a constitutional amendment to
Muluzi, whose second term of five years ends in 2004,
to contest the
presidency for a third term.
The issue continues to breed controversy.
Several people, including MPs and religious leaders,
have been roughed
up for expressing anti-third term sentiments.
Aid Projects Not Affected By Donor Caution
UN Integrated Regional Information
February 27, 2003
Posted to the web February 27, 2003
Aid programmes would not be affected by the decision of a group of
donors to continue withholding budget support from the Malawi
government, a spokesman for one of the donors told IRIN on Thursday.
After discussions with the Malawi government, this week the Common
Approach to Budget Support (CABS) donor group of the United Kingdom,
Norway, Sweden and the European Commission decided to keep to its
decision to withhold budget support until it was satisfied with the
government's financial performance.
In a statement CABS said: "The group
recognises recent improvements in areas
such as keeping total government
spending under control and bringing down
inflation. There are still some areas of
concern, including implementation of
sound financial management systems.
We hope too that the share of expenditure devoted to items like
and teaching materials will be back on target by the end of the fiscal
It said the future of the economy depended largely on the government
restraining expenditure to bring down interest rates and creating
"This is critical to successful implementation of Malawi's Poverty
Reduction Strategy (MPRS) which budget support is intended to
We look forward to the annual review of the MPRS."
Spokesman for the United Kingdom, Michael Nevin, told IRIN that the
suspension by his country did not affect aid programmes which were
He described the latest meeting with the Department of Finance as
positive but said the donor group was waiting for the International
Fund's (IMF) report on the government's budget and spending
adjustments, which was expected to be released soon, before deciding
lift the suspension.
Last year the IMF said it would withhold the US $47 million earmarked
Malawi under its Poverty Reduction Growth Facility due to government
overspending beyond targets set by the Fund.
Nevin added that although the funds were suspended, about US $15
million had been released since 2001 to assist during the country's
Food Crisis in Malawi Almost Over
Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
February 28, 2003
Posted to the web February 28, 2003
By Brian Ligomeka
The food shortage crisis that threatened the lives of 3.6 million
is finally over, after successful implementation of agricultural
programmes, which President Bakili Muluzi and his administration
encouraged people to follow.
Secretary for Agriculture Andrina Mchiela told The Malawi Standard in
interview that the country has now attained the much needed food
She noted that it is pleasing that this season Malawi has managed to
produce surplus food. Faced with an unexpected surplus, government has
decided to sell 50,000 metric tonnes of its maize stock.
Mchiela said the sale of the surplus maize is done with the blessing
donors who also comprise the food crisis technical committee.
"Government is looking for traders to buy 50 000 metric tonnes out of
000 metric tonnes stored in reserve because the critical hunger period
over," said Mchiela.
She said the government was afraid that if it does not sell the maize,
would have be overwhelmed with a huge surplus when the current crop
would be harvested in three months' time.
Officials of the Famine Early Warning Sytems Network (FEWS NET)
maintain that there is no problem with Malawi selling some of its
"This will not come from the strategic grain reserves (SGR), but from
government imports," says FEWS NET Country Director, Sam Chimwaza.
Chimwaza explained that the government recently held a meeting with
NGOs and donors to discuss what to do with 250,000 metric tonnes of
maize bought with a World Bank loan to avert another year of critical
shortage, which put about 3.6 million people in need of food aid.
Chimwaza said that due to timely government imports and a
government-imposed price freeze which had reduced maize prices by up
to 60 percent, market speculators had not been able to repeat the
year's tactic of withholding stocks and then selling them at a large
In addition, cautious after two years of food shortage, households in
had been extremely careful with their supplies, rationing them to make
supplies last longer.
Now that it has become evident that the outlook of this year's harvest
positive, in spite of heavy rains in some parts of the country, and due
fact that the Strategic Grain Reserve contains the required 60,000
tonnes, the government decided to discuss the possibility of selling
fifth of the maize to raise cash for other projects.
The move would also benefit farmers in the sense that the market would
not be flooded by a lot of maize, which could depress prices when
their maize to ADMARC and private traders.
Donors, including the European Union (EU), have agreed to government's
proposal to sale 50, 000 metric tonnes of maize.
European Union food security official, Paul Giniies, said: "It is
that this sale takes place before the harvest season to ensure the
is not flooded with maize and prices remain as high as possible."
The World Food Programme (WFP), which is targeting most of those
identified for food aid, and which launched a massive regional appeal
year, said it had "no problem" with the sale.
"It was discussed and we don't have a problem with it because
government reserves are on the high side and they are worried about
food rotting," WFP spokesman Abdelgadi Musallam said.
"The food security situation here has stabilised, malnutrition rates
stabilised, food prices are low and the whole situation is quite
last year," he said.
According to Mchiela, this year the country is expected to harvest up
million metric tonnes of maize. This is enough food to feed the nation
the whole year and remain with some surplus. The country's food
requirement does not exceed 2 million metric tonnes.
The bumper yields are the good fruits of agricultural schemes initiated
the government. These included the Starter Pack Scheme, Winter
Cropping and the Civil Servants Farm Input Scheme.
While agriculture experts and donors say Malawi has conquered the
hunger crisis, others are disputing this fact.
Chairman of the Malawi Economic Justice Network, Francis Ng'ambi, says
that he is not convinced that the food crisis in the country is over,
"There is no guarantee that in 2004 there will not be another hunger
He says Malawi has always had droughts and floods, but a host of other
factors are also to blame for the recent crisis.
He says these other factors need to be addressed to prevent the crisis
from continuing and repeating themselves. Ng'ambi calls for the
cancellation of the country's US$2.6 billion debt.
He says 40 percent of its annual budget goes into servicing that debt.
money could rather be used to boost the agricultural sector.
"To continue asking Malawi to service its debt in this hunger crisis is
just at all... There is no way Malawi could repay its debt," he
He also suggests that policies imposed on Malawi by the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank should be scrapped. Ng'ambi
says these policies include the removal of subsidies on farm inputs
He points out that when the Bretton Woods institutions dictated Malawi
remove subsidies, input costs soared by 43 percent, while seed supply
dropped by 56 percent, putting many subsistence farmers on a
Ng'ambi said at the peak of the 2002 hunger, the price of maize
four-fold because there were no control mechanisms, a factor which
unscrupulous traders exploited.
"The IMF/WB policies are not helping the poor people in Malawi because
they are disempowering them even from that which they were once able
produce through government assistance."
Ng'ambi suggests that time is ripe now that the government should come
up with a practical agricultural policy to ensure sustainable food
He suggests that such a policy should take into account factors like
poverty and HIV/Aids.
Mcp Veep Snubs His President Over Cosmetic Unity
Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
February 28, 2003
Posted to the web February 28, 2003
By Standard Reporter
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Vice President John Tembo made a
stunning revelation recently in the presence of his boss Gwanda
Chakuamba that he was dragged into reuniting with the party president
before many outstanding differences were resolved.
Co-addressing a rally with Chakuamba in Ndirande, Blantyre, last
after years of hatred with Chakuamba, Tembo said he is still bitter
President's move to petition the High Court to convict him and other
MCP officials on contempt of court charges.
Tembo and MCP Secretary General, Kate
Kainja, were found guilty of holding an
MCP convention when the High Court had
granted Chakuamba an injunction
restraining them to go ahead with the
They were eventually convicted and fined K200, 000 each, admitting
they were guilty.
Tembo and Kainja subsequently lost their parliamentary seats, as their
conviction concerned a case of moral turpitude. They are, therefore
eligible to hold a public office until after seven years from the date
What it means, Tembo said, is that although he has reconciled with
Chakuamba, the truth remains that the MCP President is responsible for
his expulsion because he is the one who petitioned the courts over the
The MCP Vice President told the unsuspecting crowd that he always
suspected Chakuamba of plotting his downfall from the political scene.
He cited Chakuamba's plot to finish him off after he went to Sanjika
in Blantyre and asked President Bakili Muluzi to keep him (Tembo) in
detention when the State tried him and others in the infamous Mwanza
"I have also not been in favour of Chakuamba's insistence to work with
Alliance for Democracy (Aford) and its President Chakufwa Chihana,"
Tembo said. He continued that the MCP/Aford alliance forged during the
1999 general elections meant, in essence, Tembo was sidelined.
Giving a brief background to the two leaders' reunification, Tembo,
took to the podium before Chakuamba, revealed that it is Chakuamba who
had been desperate for the reunion.
He said Chakuamba wrote him, after several verbal attempts, pleading
a meeting to resolve their differences. Tembo, who showed the letter to
crowd, said Chakuamba pleaded with him to join hands "in order to win
coming general elections in 2004."
Tembo revealed that he initially refused to go to Chakuamba's house
the intended discussions, and advised Chakuamba to go to his house
instead. However, the two leaders settled for a neutral venue, an
businessman's house, where they kick-started negotiations.
Tembo said he agreed to work with Chakuamba on conditions that
Chakuamba withdraws all cases against him and members of his faction
from the High Court.
The Vice President also demanded that all members of his factions
appointed to some executive posts, should remain as such. He also
demanded that never again should the MCP work with Aford, as he
personally does not like Aford's leader, Chihana.
Tembo threatened to break ranks again with Chakuamba if the conditions
were breached. Surprisingly, when Chakuamba's turn arrived to address
the rally, he said it is the late Dr. Kamuzu Banda who told him in a
to approach Tembo and ask him to work together ahead of the 2004
Chakuamba did not comment on Tembo's allegations, but instead invited
Tembo and Majoni onto the platform to display their newfound solidarity
People's Transformation Party (PETRA) president Kamuzu Chibambo has
described the political marriage between Malawi Congress Party (MCP)
president Gwanda Chakuamba and his vice John Tembo as a waste of
time and a very unfortunate political development.
Chibambo told The Malawi Standard that there is nothing that the
unity between the two can bring on Malawi's political landscape. Their
followers and members of the general public have already lost
in both of them.
He pointed out that the two MCP leaders have already brought confusion
their party during the time they were wasting their energies on their
personal differences and were wrestling for power.
"It is unfortunate that the re-union of Chakuamba and Tembo is coming
now when MCP supporters have been waiting for it sometime back. The
two leaders chose to waste their time on personal differences for a
time thereby bringing confusion and rifts in their party, which they
solve now, especially at grassroots level," he explained.
He explained that today Chakuamba cannot address any political rally
Dedza without Tembo. The Dedza MCP supporters would reject him
forthright Tembo has already told them bad stories about Chakuamba.
Likewise Tembo can hardly address a political rally in Nsanje without
with Chakuamba. He is a total reject in Chakuamba's home.
Chibambo also echoed similar sentiments last Monday on MIJ 90.3 Fm
radio. He told listeners to the community radio station that the
the two leaders is not in any way a true reflection of the situation on
ground at the grassroots because MCP supporters are still divided.
MCP administrative secretary, Jodder Kanjere snubbed Chibambo's
statement saying that he should leave the MCP to deal with its own
Kanjere wondered: "Who is Mr. Chibambo to comment on MCP affairs?"
He said he would however accept Chibambo's statement with a pinch of
salt since everyone is entitled to expressing one's opinion in a
"I would take Chibambo's comment as a personal opinion," he said.
Meanwhile the United Democratic Front (UDF) regional governor for the
South, Davis Kapito, said the unification of the two leaders is not a
"Malawians lost confidence and trust in MCP leadership and their
is not a threat to UDF," he noted.
He said that the political working relationship between Chakuamba and
Tembo is very cosmetic and full of hidden agendas.
No one can therefore take them seriously. "They have deceived their
supporters and other people far too many," said Kapito.
Kapito said that the two are taking each other for a ride. One of the
two is a
trickster duping the other and before the 2004 general elections the
will know the real dupe. And the real losers will be their supporters
shall be left in the cold.
Chibambo's sentiments have sent a big chill to proponents of an
opposition alliance in the 2004 general elections to unseat the ruling
Democratic Front (UDF).
Asked if his statement will not frustrate the proposed opposition
Chibambo, said he has to confer with his party members and other
before PETRA can make any commitment.
On leadership of the alliance he proposed that leader of the proposed
alliance should be elected by an electorate at a convention.
"Being elected by delegates at a convention and declaring oneself as a
leader or president of a party are two different things all together,"
Some people have said the statement is a clear testimony that
new-formed political parties are not interested to form an alliance
MCP because the old guards are still clinging to power. They are all
competing for Sanjika Palace.
Another MCP senior official, speaking on condition of anonymity,
out that MCP would be worst split at its planned convention. He
that while Chakuamba and Tembo would be busy fighting for the party
presidency, the new blood would be plotting to boot them out of the
Despite frantic efforts by donors, non governmental organisations, and
religious groups to persuade the opposition to form a common electoral
alliance in readiness for the 2004 general elections, political
say the practical reality on the ground clearly shows that it is
opposition leaders in Malawi to build a workable coalition. In most
while the outlook of their political concerns might seem similar they
work together because at deeper level their agendas are conflicting.
Malawi Economic Justice Network senior official, Mavuto Bamusi, told
Malawi Standard in an earlier interview that while it is legally and
acceptable for parties to form electoral groups, it is impossible for
opposition to form a coalition in 2004.
"Imagine Tembo, Chakuamba, Mpinganjira, Mwamondwe, and Kamlepo
teaming up, which of these people could accept to play second fiddle
the other?" asked Bamusi.
"As a matter of fact, how does Mpinganjira who is failing to form a
party out of the pressure group be in the forefront of pushing for an
opposition alliance? Moreover, when Greenwell Mwamondwe is said to
represent Aford in the opposition alliance who gave him the mandate to
so, Chihana?" quizzed the commentator.
Bamusi said that selfishness and excessive hunger for power among the
leaders of opposition parties seem to be the main two factors that
their chances of teaming up together very remote. Whatever form of
they are showing now is basically very cosmetic and deceitful.
'Tortured by Mugabe's guards'
Twenty-six activists from
Zimbabwe's main opposition
party have been arrested
outside President Robert
Mugabe's official residence.
The Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) says they were
tortured within State House after
being stopped for wearing MDC
The police, however, say they were
"provoking" State House guards and will be charged
likely to cause a breach of the peace.
The MDC activists were campaigning ahead of two Harare
at the end of the month.
They were kept in State House and tortured for fours
hours before being
taken to a police station, the MDC said.
"The soldiers used logs, booted feet,
the butts of their guns and other
instruments to brutally assault the
MDC activists" .
Five received serious injuries and
were taken to hospital, the party
But police spokesman Wayne
Bvudzijena told AFP news agency:
"They were abusive and there was a
need for them to be arrested
because they were actually
provoking a situation."
The opposition also says that more than 50 of its
activists were detained
by the police over the weekend and told to stop
Under tough new security laws, meetings of more than
require police clearance.
Elections will be held in Kuwudzana and Highfield on
These were two of the MDC's safest seats after June
The MDC says that Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF party is
desperate to win the
two seats because it is four short of a two-thirds
majority in parliament,
which would enable it to change the constitution.
Kuwudzana became vacant following the death of MP
Jongwe, while the MDC's Highfield MP was expelled for
Zimbabwe's changed land
By Carolyn Dempster
In the third of a series of articles on Zimbabwe, BBC
Online reports on the impact of the chaotic land
Co-existence is the name of the game on Zimbabwe's
Black farm workers who stayed on
after the invasions and violent
eviction of their former white
employers are now co-operating with
the new settlers to eke out a living,
using the seeds and implements
abandoned by the white farmers.
Close to two million farm workers
and their families were profoundly
affected by the land resettlement
The Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe says up to 70% of
workers lost their jobs and a means of income as a
Many are now increasingly reliant on food aid from the
International Development Agency (CIDA).
Bernard Muyara, an assistant farm manager in
Mashonaland West and
one farm worker who survived the land invasions, said
there was no
option but co existence.
"We negotiated (with the settlers) so
that the farm labourers could have
something to feed their children, so
that work could go ahead, so that
everyone can survive."
Mr Muyara says the drought is
having an effect on food security,
but that the impact of the land
invasions and political upheaval on
the farms has been far worse.
He says uncertainty about every
"next step" plagues his future.
Out of a population of some 4,500 white commercial
farmers, only 600
are still actively farming their land, says the
Commercial Farmers' Union
Of those farmers who have been hounded off their land,
only 120 have
been paid any compensation.
These are the ones who did not appeal to the courts
against the loss of
The chaotic land resettlement process has meant that
more than 10
million hectares of fertile land has been effectively
seized by the state
and turned over to settlers who range from peasant
farmers to urban
bureaucrats and members of Zanu-PF's political elite.
This last clique, who travel down in
luxury 4-wheel drive vehicles to
inspect their newly acquired farms
over weekends are known as the
Many of the government's critics say
this was the primary purpose of the
land reform programme, that land
hunger was merely used by
President Mugabe as a political ploy
to buy patronage and cling to power.
In just one province, Mashonaland
East, only half of the vacated farms
had been occupied by new settlers
by October last year.
In the vast majority of cases, the new settlers do not
have the seeds,
inputs or expertise to farm the land productively.
And because they do not have tenure or title deeds,
they cannot get
bank loans or any capital to buy what they need.
Economist John Robertson argues that, as a result of
this, hundreds of
thousands of small scale farmers have effectively been
plunged into a
poverty trap by the government.
Even Joseph Made, Zimbabwe's Minister for Lands,
Agriculture and Rural
Resettlement was forced to admit recently that the
programme has been "haphazard".
In recent weeks Mr Made has been making unsuccessful
the Commercial Farmers' Union in a bid to persuade the
members to give some material help to the new
The outlook for Zimbabwe's
once-buoyant agricultural sector is
The disrupted planting last season,
ongoing drought and late rains this
year, mean the maize fields could
yield at best 700,000 tonnes of
maize this season.
National demand stands at about 1.8
Four years ago, Zimbabwe was a net
exporter of maize and a key supplier to the World Food
Last month the WFP distributed 42,000 tonnes of food
aid to 49 districts
in a bid to stop Zimbabwe from slipping closer to a
In terms of tobacco, the country has lost its prized
place as the world's
third largest exporter of prime quality tobacco and
this year's crop is
expected to be 70 million kg at most, down from 240
million kg in 2000.
The loss to the treasury is close to $280m.
Soya bean production is also down by about two-thirds
and the national
cattle herd has dropped from 1.2 million to 200,000.
The CFU claims that the minimum time it would take to
commercial farming is five years, but sceptics believe
it is now virtually
impossible to turn agriculture around.
ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17 The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal byMessage 1046 of 1046 , May 22, 2006View Source
ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract
by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17
The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by government to look for another contractor instead of China Hunan Construction to construct of the long awaited Karonga/Chitipa road.
China Hunan from Mainland China won the bid which was approved by the ADB but government later wanted to award the contract to a Portuguese firm, Mota Engil, the second lowest bidder, claiming China Hunan's bid was unrealistically low and that the company had very little experience in Africa.
Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe confirmed on Sunday the ADB rejected the proposal at a meeting held between the bank and Malawi government in Tunisia last week.
The Malawi government wanted the Tunisia meeting to authorise it to get another contractor for the road, said Gondwe.
"They did not allow us to look for another contractor because of their regulations. But we are about to get another alternative for Karonga/Chitipa and I would be surprised if it does not start before end June," said Gondwe.
The minister explained that the bank insisted that regardless of the unrealistic cost estimates, China Hunan should be allowed to go ahead with the construction.
But Gondwe could not give further details about the alternatives, arguing there are still a few loose ends to tighten up before disclosing it.
The problem with China Hunan, according to Gondwe, is that it would require more money to meet the total cost of the project.
This paper reported last week that government met Taiwanese representatives where they offered to fund the road if the ADB continued to reject its favoured contractor, Mota Engil.
Gondwe could neither confirm nor deny the reports on the Taiwanese offer, saying government was looking at a number of ways to handle the issue.
According to Gondwe, the China Hunan's bid was 24 percent lower than the consulting engineers' estimates of K7.9 billion and 34 percent below the second lowest bidder.
President Bingu wa Mutharika laid a foundation stone for the construction of the road this year ahead of a crucial byelection in Chitipa in December last year.
The President's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the Chitipa Wenya constituency by-election that fell vacant following the collapse and subsequent death of Speaker of Parliament Rodwell Munyenyembe who belonged to the UDF.
Last week, police and the District Commissioner (DC) for Chitipa stopped a rally that was aimed at soliciting people's views about development projects in the district.
The meeting, which was reportedly organised by Concerned Citizens of Chitipa, was among other things also supposed to tackle the controversial Karonga/Chitipa road.
The project failed to start off in 2000 when a contract for an initial loan of US$17 million and US$15 million from the Taiwanese government was signed, with some quarters claiming the Bakili Muluzi administration diverted the money to another road.
Chihana operated on
by Edwin Nyirongo, 22 May 2006 - 06:32:31
Alliance for Democracy (Aford) president Chakufwa Chihana, who is in South Africa receiving treatment, had a brain operation on Friday at Garden City Clinic, family and party officials confirmed on Sunday.
Aford national chairman Chipimpha Mughogho said he was told by the family members that Chihana had a successful operation on Friday and was put in an intensive care unit.
Mughogho said Chihana, who initially complained of headache, was found with a brain tumour which South African doctors removed.
Mzimba West MP Loveness Gondwe said Aford boss condition was stable.
"Hon. Chihana had a major operation and after that he was put in the intensive care unit but his condition is stable. I do not know where he was operated on but it had something to do with the skull," she said.
Deputy Information Minister John Bande referred the matter to the Health Minister Hetherwick Ntaba who was reported to be in Geneva, Switzerland.
Aford publicity secretary Norman Nyirenda said when Chihana's situation got worse, the family alerted the Office of the President and Cabinet who took him to Mwaiwathu Private Hospital.
"The doctors at Mwaiwathu advised that he should be sent to South Africa and they even identified the doctor for him," he said.
He said the costs are being met by the Malawi government, contradicting his earlier statement that his boss covered the cost.
Mughogho is now in charge of the party.
Gondwe will be a busy person when Parliament starts meeting on June 6 as she is the only Aford MP remaining.
Pillane proposes presidential age limit
by Emmanuel Muwamba , 22 May 2006 - 06:34:13
A member of the DPP National Governing Council Abdul Pillane on Saturday urged members of political parties and the civil society to put an upper age limit in the Constitution for presidential candidates.
Pillane was addressing members of political parties and civil society in Liwonde during a two-day follow up workshop to the National Conference on the Review of Constitution held in March in Lilongwe.
"My view is that (an upper) age limit should be at 75. We have to give a chance to younger people to lead because in circumstance, when you age you become forgetful especially when sickly," said Pillane. "Overall, chances should be given to young people."
But UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala, whose party members agitated for the age limit during presentations, played the issue down.
"I feel there is no logic to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates. If someone is 90 or 80 I don't know how that can influence the electorate not to vote for someone who is younger, I don't see any logic behind that," said Makwangwala.
MCP participants at the workshop also vehemently objected to the proposal.
MCP vice president Nicholas Dausi in an interview said: "There is no constitution in Africa which stipulates an upper age limit. So it would be strange in Malawi to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates."
MDP President Kamlepo Kalua also opposed the need to have an upper age limit.
"If we have personalities in mind that we want to discriminate against then it is unfortunate. The constitution we want to build is a guiding document for future generations and it should not bar certain individuals on the basis of grudges," he said.
The Malawi Law Constitution Issues Paper of March 2006 says several submissions that were received put an upper presidential age limit in the Constitution.
"It is argued that it is common sense that mental knowledge faculties tend to fail with age. As regards what the actual age limit should be the submissions are far from being agreed. The range is from 60 years to 80 years," read submissions in the Issues Paper.
On whether MPs should double as ministers, Kalua said this should be the case.
Makwangwala also said it is not right for MPs to serve as ministers because the Legislature, another arm of government, is reduced while the Executive branch is beefed up from another arm of government.
"There is no separation of powers when MPs double as ministers," said Makwangwala.
But Pillane said there is no problem for MPs to work as ministers as well, saying MPs are elected by the President.
"One can serve both posts. There have been no problems before for people to double," said Pillane.
The Centre for Multiparty Democracy funded the workshop through the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.
The objective was to come up with a collective position on the Issues Paper which will be presented to the Special Law Commission that will be constituted soon.
Mussa hails new driving licence
by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:58:52
Transport and Public Works Minister Henry Mussa last week said the design of the Malawi-Sadc driving licence would guard against forgery and ensure that only skilled and legitimate drivers of particular vehicles are licensed.
Mussa was speaking at the official launch of the licences in Lilongwe where he announced that traffic police would from July enforce speed limits and sober driving using Breathalysers which his ministry is in the process of procuring.
The minister said financial constraints are the reason for the delay in procuring the equipment but assured that by July they would be available.
"With the new equipment, the days of those who believe in the thrill of drink and driving are numbered," warned Mussa.
Mussa added that with the new licence, government is optimistic that the country's roads would be safe.
Acting Director of Road Traffic James Chirwa said the features that distinguish the new from the old licences are the Malawi national flag and a ghost image of the driver's photograph, among others.
Those with old licences, according to Chirwa, are expected to get the new ones after the expiry of the former.
UDF demands investigation on Kasambara
by Rabecca Theu, 22 May 2006 - 06:30:46
The United Democratic Front (UDF) has asked government to investigate Ralph Kasambara on allegations of abuse of office while he was attorney general.
UDF publicity secretary Sam Mpasu told the press Sunday that the party is neither amused or saddened by the removal of the former AG but asked government to institute investigations on Kasambara.
"Beyond the removal of the Attorney General, we now urge President Mutharika to institute investigation against Mr Kasambara into allegations that have made rounds in the public domain during the recent past. These include: Mrs Helen Singh and SS Rent-a-Car; SGS and ITS saga; ...........the use of Malawi Police Service in the arrest of three Chronicle journalists and the handling of Mrs Rubina Kawonga," said Mpasu.
Mpasu also accused Kasambara of awarding government contracts to Lawson and Company where he was a senior partner.
"We urge government to thoroughly investigate the former AG. We also ask government to cautiously select the new AG ," said Mpasu, who was accompanied by the party's Secretary General Kennedy Makwangwala, leader of the party in Parliament George Mtafu, chief whip Leonard Mangulama and a member of the executive Hophmally Makande.
But Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati said UDF should give offer its advice to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB).
"They should advise bodies like the Anti-Corruption Bureau to conduct the investigations and why are they saying this now? Is it because Kasambara has been fired? This is not a personal issue. If they have other pressing issues they should just say so. These arguments should have come up earlier on when the said cases were happening," she said.
Kasambara asked UDF to proceed with the mission of urging government to investigate him.
"They can do their job. Everyone has a right to lobby for anything they want in the country. UDF has a right to do that, let them go ahead," he said.
Kasambara was relieved of his duties as AG by the President last week. Government has not given reasons behind the removal.
Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land
The Times of Zambia (Ndola)
May 18, 2006
Posted to the web May 19, 2006
MALAWIANS who have encroached on both the 'no-man's' and part of the Zambian land at the Mwami border in Eastern Province have plucked out some beacons that were used in the demarcation of the border.
The Malawians are now using the beacons as stools in their newly-established villages on Zambian land.
Eastern Province Minister, Boniface Nkhata, said in Chipata yesterday that if the situation was not controlled urgently, Zambia would lose huge tracts of land to Malawians migrating into Zambian in large numbers.
A check at the Zambia-Malawi border showed a number of beacons had been vandalised and new structures constructed on the 'no man's' land and a large portion of Zambian land.
Mr Nkhata said the trend extended to many parts of the province bordering the two countries.
"A large portion of Zambian land has been taken up by the Malawians starting from the Chama boundary up to the Mwami border.
"The weighbridge at the Mwami border was initially in Zambia from the time both countries gained independence from Britain, but now the bridge is on Malawian soil," Mr Nkhata said.
The minister, who is former Chama District Commissioner, said there was similar encroachment in Lundazi and Chama districts where Zambia shares a boundary with Malawi.
He said a Malawian farmer identified as Mr Mfune had cultivated 71.5 hectares on Zambian land and employed about 265 Malawian workers.
"Khombe Farm in Chama district in Kanyerere's area, along the Muyombe road which leads to Northern Province where this Malawian farmer has cultivated a vast land is on the Zambian territory," he said.
Workers on the farm admitted that they were farming on Zambian soil but could not go back to Malawi because the land in that country was inadequate for cultivation.
Mr Nkhata appealed to the ministry of Lands to urgently release money for the demarcation of the Zambia-Malawi border to avoid further land disputes between the two countries.
Meanwhile, the Immigration Department in Livingstone has arrested a couple and another man, all Zimbabweans, for working in Zambia without permits.
They were arrested at Gwembe village yesterday where they worked for Into Africa, a tour operating company that provides bush dinners and breakfast.
According to the Immigration Department in Livingstone, the trio entered Zambia through the Victoria Falls border as visitors but decided to work for the company illegally.
Last week, immigration officers arrested 10 Zimbabwean traders and six Ethiopians for entering and staying in Zambia illegally.
The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.
The Ethiopians were arrested at Konje Guest House when they ran out of money to proceed to Botswana.
Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests
22 May 2006 11:51
Zimbabwe's biggest labour federation on Saturday threatened to call massive demonstrations against the government over poor salaries and worsening living conditions for workers in the country.
The threats are ratcheting up pressure against President Robert Mugabe's government after similar threats by the biggest opposition party in the country, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), about two months ago.
Speaking at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) conference on Saturday, the labour body's president, Lovemore Matombo, said the powerful union wants the government to award workers salaries that match the country's ever-rising inflation.
"I can assure you we will stage massive demonstrations to force them [employers] to award workers minimum salaries that tally with the poverty datum line," said Matombo.
Matombo did not say when exactly the ZCTU would order workers to strike.
Meanwhile, the MDC on Sunday said it will push ahead with plans for anti-government protests, saying victory in a key by-election at the weekend was a "sign the electorate supported its policies", including democratic mass resistance.
A spokesperson of the main faction of the splintered MDC, Nelson Chamisa, said victory over Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF and a rival MDC faction in a Saturday by-election in Harare's Budiriro constituency is a sign Zimbabweans still have confidence in party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his policies.
Tsvangirai, the founding leader of the MDC, heads the main rump of the opposition party whose candidate, Emmanuel Chisvuure, polled 7 949 votes to win the Budiriro House of Assembly seat.
Gabriel Chaibva of the other faction of the MDC, led by prominent academic Arthur Mutambara, garnered 504 votes while Zanu-PF's Jeremiah Bvirindi polled 3 961 votes.
"This election showed that the electorate still has confidence in the MDC [Tsvangirai-led] leadership and its policies," Chamisa told independent news service ZimOnline.
He added: "We will now move to consolidate our position * we still believe in mass protests. Until we have attained our goals we see no reason why we should abandon [plans for protests]."
Tsvangirai has threatened to call mass protests this winter against Mugabe and his government. He says the mass protests, whose date he is still to name, are meant to force Mugabe to relinquish power to a government of national unity to be tasked to write a new and democratic Constitution that would ensure free and fair elections held under international supervision.
Mugabe and his government, who had hoped for victory in Budiriro to show they were recapturing urban support from a splintered MDC, have not taken idly the opposition's threats to call mass protests, with the veteran president warning Tsvangirai he would be "dicing with death" if he ever attempted to instigate a Ukraine-style popular revolt in Zimbabwe.
In a fresh crackdown against dissension, the police last week arrested several church and civic leaders for organising public prayers and marches to mark last year's controversial home-demolition exercise by the government.
The police also banned the marches and prayers, fearing they could easily turn into mass protests against Mugabe and his government.
However, the marches went ahead in the second-largest city of Bulawayo after organisers had obtained a court order barring the police from stopping the march.
Political analysts say although Zimbabweans have largely been cowed by Mugabe's tactics of routinely deploying riot police and the military to crush street protests, worsening hunger and poverty are fanning public anger that Tsvangirai -- with proper planning and organisation -- could easily manipulate.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe six-year old economic crisis that has seen inflation breaching the 1 000% barrier. Last year, the World Bank said Zimbabwe's economic crisis was unprecedented for a country not at war.
The MDC and major Western governments blame Mugabe for wrecking the country's economy, which was one of the strongest in Africa at independence from Britain 26 years ago.
Mugabe denies the charge blaming the crisis on sabotage by Britain and her allies after he seized white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks six years ago.
The Harare authorities recently hiked salaries for civil servants, with the lowest-paid soldier now earning about Z$27-million while the lowest-paid school teacher now takes home about Z$33-million.
But the salaries are still way below the poverty datum line, which the government's Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says now stands at a staggering Z$42-million a month for an average family of six.
The Zimbabwe government often accuses the ZCTU, a strong ally of the MDC, of pushing a political agenda to remove Mugabe from power.
Meanwhile, Matombo and Lucia Matibenga retained their posts as president and first vice-president respectively during the ZCTU congress that ended on Saturday. -- ZimOnline