Malawi politicians break silence By Raphael Tenthani BBC correspondent in Blantyre Aids - a subject which is often taboo in Africa - is emerging as a dominantMar 8, 2004 1 of 1046View SourceMalawi politicians break silence
By Raphael Tenthani
BBC correspondent in Blantyre
Aids - a subject which is often taboo in Africa - is emerging as a dominant theme in Malawi's general election campaign, scheduled for 18 May.
One of the leading contenders for the presidency, Brown Mpinganjira, has revealed the devastating impact that the disease has had on his own family.
He is not the first top politician in to address the issue.
President Bakili Muluzi last month disclosed his own brother died of an Aids-related illness.
In February 2003 Lands, Physical Planning and Surveys Minister Thengo Maloya shocked his staff when he disclosed that he had lost three of his own children to Aids.
Mr Mpinganjira, the leader of the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has said he lost half his family to Aids.
He told BBC News Online he decided to go public on the issue to highlight the seriousness of the disease.
"I am the first born of a family of 11, they were 11 of us but six have since perished because of HIV-related diseases," he said.
"So our family is one that is acutely aware of the dangers of HIV/Aids."
Mr Mpinganjira said his NDA party will make HIV/Aids a campaign issue alongside other issues like the economy.
He said the NDA manifesto has deliberate policies on how to tackle the disease.
"We take the issue of HIV/Aids very seriously because all our planning as a nation could go up in smoke if we do not arrest this pandemic," he said.
Like most parts of sub-Saharan Africa, Malawi has been devastated by the Aids pandemic.
As one way of slowing down the spread of the disease the government is promoting voluntary counselling and testing.
In his recent announcement, President Muluzi disclosed that he had personally undergone an HIV test.
"And the good news is that it's good news," he said alluding to the fact that he tested negative.
Mr Mpinganjira, 54, also disclosed that he undergoes frequent HIV tests.
"I have done it every three months and I am lucky that I am certified safe from that disease."
He said although HIV testing should remain voluntary he would support calls to make it mandatory for those aspiring for high office.
"I don't think there is any moral wrong in asking those aspiring for high office to be tested."
In 2000 former parliamentary Speaker Sam Mpasu disclosed that up to 29 of Malawi's 193 MPs had died of Aids.
Zimbabwe seizes United States aircraft
08 March 2004 16:08
Zimbabwean security authorities have impounded a United States-registered aircraft that landed at the country's main international airport with military equipment and 64 men aboard suspected to be mercenaries, Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi announced on Monday.
"A United States of America-registered Boeing 727-100 cargo plane was detained last night [Sunday] at about 7.30pm [local time] at Harare International airport after its owners had made a false declaration of its cargo and crew," the minister told a news conference.
"The plane was actually carrying 64 suspected mercenaries of various nationalities," he said.
"Further investigations also revealed that on board the plane was military materiel."
Mohadi said full details would be issued in due course but that in the meantime investigations were under way to establish the "true identities of the men and their ultimate mission".
The plane had been moved to a military base, he said.
What had been done with those on board was not immediately clear. -- Sapa-AFP
Zimbabwe's torture training camps
By Hilary Andersson
BBC Africa correspondent
President Robert Mugabe's government has set up secret camps across the country in which thousands of youths are taught how to torture and kill, the BBC has learned.
Debbie was raped in a Zimbabwean youth camp
The Zimbabwean government says the camps are job training centres, but those who have escaped say they are part of a brutal plan to keep Mugabe in power.
Former recruits to the camps have spoken to the BBC's Panorama programme about a horrific training programme that breaks young teenagers down before encouraging them to commit atrocities.
Members of the youth militia are warned never to tell of their experiences inside the camps, and many refuse to be identified when talking about their experiences.
However one girl, Debbie, claims she was kidnapped and forced into a camp - where she was raped on her very first night.
I was raped again at night and they said no-one can complain because it's part of training
In accounts gathered by BBC Panorama from dozens of youths, it appears that for many of them the training in the camps begins with rape.
Debbie said she was raped three times on the first night, but claimed that the abuse didn't stop then.
She told the programme: "I was raped again at night and they said no-one can complain because its part of training."
She claims she used to share a blanket with an 11-year-old girl. The little girl was also raped night after night.
President Mugabe has visited the camps. Ministry insiders have told Panorama that his government knows what goes on inside them.
Food is often scarce. Youths are beaten until they succumb to orders. They are taught that their mission is to keep President Mugabe in power.
Panorama has also learned that some of the recruits are taught to torture his opponents.
Daniel was plied with alcohol and drugs, and learned how to electrocute his victims.
He said: "I would just touch, krr, krr - tell us information."
Asked if he thought it was OK to torture people, he added that it was "nice", because "your mind is disturbed".
During covert filming inside Zimbabwe, Panorama also spoke to a camp commander who told the programme that youths in his camp had been sent to kill opponents of President Mugabe.
He said: "In the area I am covering I heard of two. My superiors instructed that the people must be eliminated."
What is more frightening is that President Mugabe now wants every Zimbabwean youth to undergo training. We have been told they will be used to intimidate political opponents in next year's elections.
The commander added: "These guys are going to be used by the ruling party to keep the opposition out of power."
We put these allegations to Zimbabwe's government, but so far it has refused to respond.
Zimbabwe defends 'secret camps'
Zimbabwe has denied setting up secret camps to train youths how to torture and kill opposition supporters.
Youth Minister Ambrose Mutinhiri dismissed a BBC documentary on the youth camps as "unfounded rubbish".
He said the camps trained youths in technical skills, health, disaster management and entrepreneurship.
The Panorama documentary showed youths claiming they were trained to torture or kill members of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
But Mr Mutinhiri said everything in the camps was above-board.
"The [camps] programme focuses on mental decolonisation of our youths and brings back their dignity as a people," he said.
Mr Mutinhiri said the camps were purely voluntary and very popular among young people in Zimbabwe.
According to the government, more than 18,000 young people have gone through the camps since they were launched in 2001.
Former recruits to the camps who spoke to Panorama said the horrific training encouraged them to commit atrocities.
Members of the youth militia are warned never to tell of their experiences inside the camps, and many refuse to be identified when talking about their experiences, Panorama reported.
A girl, Debbie, claimed she was kidnapped and forced into a camp - where she was raped on her very first night.
"I was raped at night and they said no one can complain because its part of training," she said.
Mr Mutinhiri dismissed claims that female trainees were raped, saying they were safely accommodated in their own hostels "cordoned off with a razor-wire fence" and guarded by watchmen.
Zanzibar rally triggers clashes
Thirty-two people have been arrested in clashes between police and Muslim demonstrators on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar, the police say.
Police used tear gas to disperse hundreds of supporters of the Islamic Awareness Society, which wants the government to adopt Islamic Sharia law.
Eight people were injured, including a policeman, as the illegal rally was broken up, Zanzibar radio said.
Angry protesters later torched a beer depot, the Associated Press reported.
The group, known as Uamsho, refused to comment on police claims that it had arrested a number of its leaders.
The BBC's Ali Saleh in Zanzibar says Muslim leaders are engaged in a power struggle with the government.
They clashed with the authorities last February in a row over the date of the Muslim festival of Eid.
The police fired tear gas and plastic bullets at Muslims in a mosque when they refused to stop praying, injuring four people.
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 byMay 22, 2006 1046 of 1046View 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