Opposition Mgwirizano Coalition Winning Formula Crushes Malawi Standard (Blantyre) May 4, 2004 Posted to the web May 4, 2004 Wisdom Chimgwede Blantyre Malawi sMessage 1 of 1046 , May 5, 2004View SourceOpposition Mgwirizano Coalition Winning Formula Crushes
Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
May 4, 2004
Posted to the web May 4, 2004
Malawi's Mgwirizano Coalition ambitious plan to win Presidential elections and a Parliamentary majority in the forthcoming elections is working in retrogression as struggle for seniority and fame plus regionalism threatens to break it further.
"The thorny issue here is for those perceived to be weaker candidates to withdraw in the parliamentary race as a winning formula. It came too late when many people had already spent a lot of money campaigning," said Ben Chakhame PPM shadow MPs chairman revealing about 102 MPs from his party are not ready to withdraw.
"Its all because of putting wrong priorities first," argued Salule Masangwi, NDA Spokesman.
On the other hand, Chakuamba and Aleke Banda are being accused of trying to manipulate the system in favour of their People's Pregressive Movement (PPM) and Republican Party (RP), the two parties with majority shadow MPs to make sure they become the strongest among the seven.
However, almost all the other five feel their candidates are the strongest and if the process of choosing the most popular is done democratically, they should contest in most constituencies.
Robson Munlo, Mafunde spokesperson said in an interview that his party is already number one in terms of the strength of its shadow parliamentarians.
"Mafunde managed to field strong candidates who are doing very fine in every respect. Talk of Mzuzu City, Nkhoma, Balaka, and Mwanza. We can't compete with many of these candidates from the other parties because many of them are very weak," he said.
Mafunde president George Nnesa said in an earlier interview that their strength stands on the fact that they sensitised their candidates from the beginning.
"We actually managed to trim our number from 70 down to 22 when other parties were just funding for everyone," said Nnesa who revealed that each of the seven parties would be contesting independently in parliamentary elections.
Nnesa said it was possible that most people might not wish to withdraw "because it's not just a matter of towing the party line for the sake of it."
"I don't believe that every one may just say yes because the grouping has decided so. Different people have different feelings," he pointed out.
But PPM Secretary General Knox Valera is not very optimistic of having the majority of his shadow MPs contesting but threatens that his party would revoke the membership of all its aspirants who still owe their allegiance to the fired First Vice President, Justin Malewezi.
"The problem is that people want to remain PPM while supporting other things. The PPM position currently is that we shall ask for their stand if they don't change, we shall definitely review their membership," he said.
"But the good thing is that we went in the constituencies to know who can contest and we know the position, of course some where it was difficult," he conceded.
Meanwhile, Mgwirizano Coalition has lost its Southern Region Deputy Chairman James Mmadi who resigned from the National Unity Party where he was also Regional Chairman and defected to the ruling UDF together with the party's National Youth Director Fanizo Makumba, formerly UDF Blantyre Vendors Secretary.
They both accuse NUP of being undemocratic and diverting from its earlier promise when the party approached them to join.
"I was told that NUP would work with the ruling party and when they decided to join the opposition I felt cheated. The problem is that NUP president (Harry Chiume) makes most of his decisions from his house," they claimed.
And, according to the two, NUP Vice President Grace Kathingo would follow suit.
In his resignation letter addressed to the party Secretary General Hurry Muyenza, Mmadi cites regionalism as the reason for his decision among other things.
He alleged in an interview that the party failed to fund for his candidature in Chiradzulu citing financial problems when it actually paid for all those contesting in the north where the party president Hurry Chiume hails from.
However, Muyenza said he had not yet received the letters while dismissing the claims on regionalism and that the party paid for other candidates as lies.
Makumba alleged the party lacks transparency in its activities while saying that he was tired of pumping his own funds into the party that operates from Chiume's home.
On the withdrawal of the weak candidates as a winning formula for the Mgwirizano, Muyenza said most of the NUP MPs are strong enough to make it above the other Mgwirizano candidates.
Kamuzu Chibambo, president of the People's Transformation Party (Petra) who is one of the few senior members of the Mgwirizano accused by the Mgode party of not giving chance to the sitting MPs, said he was ready to withdraw. "Some of us will have to sacrifice. After all, some of us are not in politics because we don't have anything to do.
I am a professional and if I am to withdraw its not because of popularity but for the benefit of Mgwirizano," said Chibambo. He is contesting in Mzimba in a constituency where the AFORD break away, Mgode has Kaonga who has served there for the past ten years as an MP.
Mgode Secretary General, Rodger Nkhwazi has already made the party's stand clear that all its candidates are not withdrawing.
Mgode has accused the grouping of being undemocratic and playing hide and seek. According to reports, PPM president Aleke Banda who is Chakuamba's running mate has refused to pave way for Mgode president Sam Kandodo Banda in Nkhata Bay south, while RP Vice President Bazuka Mhango is contesting against Mgode National chairman, Greenwell Mwamondwe in Karonga.
Kandodo Banda said in an interview that it was unfortunate that Aleke refused to withdraw.
"But wait for May 18 and I will definitely win," he said.
RP officials could not be reached by phone as most of their phones could not be reached, but according to Valera, it is not possible for Chakuamba to use the system for the benefit of his party.
"If the selection is done democratically, I don't see how that would happen," he said.
"But already democracy is at stake here. You don't make decisions that affect the general public in the boardroom," argues Salule Masangwi whose party refused to join.
In an interview recently, Mgwirizano spokesperson Kholiwe Mkandawire said their was no single party which was dominating in the affairs of the grouping and was also sure that people would not find it difficult to withdraw if perceived weak.
There are a total of 392 people vying for the 193 seats from Mgwirizano. PPM is fielding 112, seconded by RP 110, followed by NUP with 99 candidates, Mafunde comes fourth with 21, Petra is fifth with 18 candidates and Kamlepo Kalua's MDP has 10 candidates.
Opposition National Democratic Alliance Forsakes Its Chairman
Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
May 4, 2004
Posted to the web May 4, 2004
The opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA), has forsaken its retired National Chairman James Makhumula and his wife Margaret barely two months after his doctors advised him to step down from active politics.
In an exclusive interview at their Mapanga residence, Mrs Margaret Makhumula who revealed that her husband is currently in South africa on a medical check-up, said no NDA official has come to see the business tycoon, neither has any of them phoned to check on his condition.
"Don't worry, they will come when they feel like coming. May be they are busy with campaign. Let's wait until the campaign is over," she reasoned.
The 60-year-old Mrs Makhumula, a professional secretary, said she was perplexed that NDA officials could not come see Makhumula who worked hard with others to put the party on the map.
This almost confirms the allegations that Sir Makhumula, who retired on medical grounds, may have been forced to completely retire from politics following disagreements with his fellow executive members in the party.
Mrs. Makhumula, however she remembers no clashes between the NDA and her husband.
Makhumula retired amid speculations that all was not well in the NDA, following his wife's decision to contest the May 18 parliamentary polls on an indepedent ticket.
Mrs Makhumula added that she is no longer part of the Brown Mpinagnjira led party because she is disgruntled.
Margret said she effectively forgot herself as an NDA member since declaring herself independent candidate in the Blantyre City east constituency, following what she termed as a rigged primary election.
She observed that the NDA primaries in that constituency were arranged in favour of John Bande, the NDA candidate favoured by the Blantyre CCAP Synod General Secretary, Daniel Gunya.
"I am now more of an independent than NDA," she said.
She alleged that Bande brought in "some drunkards from Bangwe to threaten my supporters" at the polling station."
"They will have to convice me why I should go back to NDA and circumstances will tell. I'll have to sit down and decide," she tipped.
According to the available data, the stand taken by the NDA (not seeing Makhumula) runs in direct contrast with what Mpinganjira promised Makhumula in Mapanga last year.
Speaking in responce to Makhumula's worries that Mpinganjira may just use the old man and dump him later after gaining ground, Mpinganjira said in chichewa: "Achimwene musamade nkhawa, ine sindingadzakusiyeni (My brother, don't worry I will never forsake you."
But today, the NDA Pressident who regularly visited Makhumula's place before the latter resigned, is no longer frequenting the place.
"May be they are busy with campaign," she said.
According to Rose Longwe, one of the officials running Makhumula's campaign trail, almost every one in the constituency, including those who are now following the independent candidate, were ready to support Bande but were disappointed with the way they were treated.
Dickson Mmaye, constituency chairperson also confirmed that all those who were for Makhumula during the primaries, were chased when they tried to reconcile with Bande and his supporters.
"That's why we thought of supporting Mrs. Makhumula because we are disgruntled," said Longwe.
But NDA spokesman, Salule Masangwi said there is no official evidence to show that people were disgruntled.
"What we know is that we have our candidate in that consitituency but we dont have problems with people standing as independents," he said.
Masangwi however, said such problems are always innevitable where people are free to make their own choices.
"We have never quarreled with anybody," he said.
However, other sources said Makhumula was destined for her former party, the ruling UDF but said she is still contemplating whether she should rejoin the UDF or not.
"I will have to sit down and decide on the next move," she said.
She did not dispute the allegation that she was about to rejoin the UDF as is speculated in some quarters.
Other quarters also suggested that Makhumula may have cemented her unwillingness to go back to the NDA following what Rev. Gunya has been doing in her constituency.
Blantyre Synod general secretary Reverend Daniel Gunya, has allegedly instructed some CCAP church ministers sympathetic to the opposition to parade NDA parliamentary candidates in various congregations in Blantyre City East.
One time, Bande was introduced at Nkolokoti CCAP Church in the presence of Makhumula.
But Gunya in an interview with The Malawi Standard denied having authorised and instructed church ministers to parade opposition candidates in CCAP denominations.
"I just advised him to go to the responsible ministers in those churches and ask for authorisation," he said.
Gunya recently announced in an opinion poll results that, according to him he put the UDF/AFORD/NCD presidential candidate, Bingu wa Mutharika at the base.
Margaret Makhumula also angered the NDA last year when she was seen among the dignitories welcoming State President Bakili Muluzi from a foreign trip.
She however defended her move: "I am a Trustee of the Freedom Foundation Trust. The problem is that people don't differentiate between party and state functions."
Sir Makhumula was around the same time at pain to defend himself following president Muluzi's statement at a rally in Monkey Bay that Makhumula was free to re-join the ruling party.
Although he was later forced to announce that he was not ready to rejoin the party he helped establish, but he hardly attended most of the NDA rallies as before.
He, however attributed his absence to his health problems.
Mrs. Makhumula who is contesting against seven other shadow MPs among them, John Bande of NDA, Jane Chikoko of UDF, and Finesi Dinala of MCP, has not been campaigning for Mpinganjira's presidency.
"What I'm saying is that I am an independent candidate, as such I don't support any party. I am ready to work with anyone who shall win as Malawi president," she emphasized.
As a woman aspirant, the former member of the NDA women's forum said she is facing a lot of challenges from her male counterparts including being castigated.
"Our friends keep on castigating us, but people must know that it is now time for women to make a difference," she said.
DR Bingu Wa Mutharika Reveals His Magic As a Presidential Candidate?
Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
May 4, 2004
Posted to the web May 4, 2004
The Malawi Standard Editor Brian Ligomeka recently interviewed Dr Bingu Wa Mutharika, the Presidential Candidate for the ruling United Democratic Front and its electoral partners Alliance for Democracy and the News Congress for Democracy. Here are the excerpts of the interview:
You are one of candidates gunning for the State Presidency. Some people are asking: Who is Dr Bingu Dr Bingu Wa Mutharika?
My name is Bingu Wa Mutharika. I was born at Chisoka School, Kamoto Village, T/A Chimaliro, Thyolo District, on 24 February 1934. My father was Mr Ryson Thom Mutharika, was a respected teacher who had taught for nearly 37 years in mission schools.
What is your educational background?
I attended my primary schools at Ulongwe Mission and Chingoli Primary Schools, Malamulo Mission. I did my secondary school studies at Malamulo Mission, the Henry Henderson Institute (HHI) in Blantyre. He had secondary education at Dedza Secondary School where he obtained the Cambridge Overseas School Leaving Certificate Grade A. I studied at the University of Delhi, India, where I obtained a Bachelor of Commerce and a Master's Degree in Economics majoring in International Trade, Monetary Economics and Development Economics. I obtained a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) Degree in Development Economics from the Pacific Western University, Los Angeles, USA.
Malawi is a God fearing nation. What is your faith?
I am a member of the Roman Catholic Church. During my childhood, I used to worship with my parents in the Nyasa Mission Evangelical Church where my grandfather, Mr. Thom Mutharika, was a preacher at the turn of the last century. When I went out abroad, I discovered that my church was not there so, I decided to join the Roman Catholic Church. I am still a Catholic up to this day.
What is your marital status?
I am a family man. I have been married to my wife, Ethel. I have four children and all my children are working in the United States of America.
What are your hobbies?
I like writing alot. I have four unpublished manuscripts. Besides writing I like playing tennis, golf. Swimming and fishing are some of my best hobbies.
Why should people vote for you?
I have a clean record. I have no record of corruption. My reason for contesting the presidency is to serve the people of Malawi to the best of my capability. I have vast experience in economics and development and if people wants development, I am the right man.
As we approach May 18, how do you assess your chances?
My chances of winning the elections are good and high. The UDF policies are people centred and they are aimed at fighting poverty and lifting the standards of living in the country. The advantage with me is that I have many international connections that will enable me to lure investors to invest in the country. Having worked for international organisations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, I have an edge over other contenders.
The advantage now is that people are no longer interested in politics but development; and I am for development.
Who can single out as your hottest contender in the Presidential race?
It's good that there are many candidates in the Presidential race. This is surely demonstrating that democracy is being entrenched in this country. As far as I am concerned there is no single candidate in the opposition who is posing a threat to me. Nobody in opposition scares me. I am poised to win the elections with landslide victory. People will vote for me as President because of the better policies which are in my manifesto and that of the ruling UDF.
What is your relationship with other opposition parties?
I have very good relationship with all opposition leaders. When I meet them I greet them and we sometimes have a brief chat. I personally now John Tembo, Gwanda Chakuamba, Aleke Banda, Justin Malewezi and even Brown Mpinganjira. Once I am voted into power, I will work with all opposition leaders. We will be consulting each other on how we can run the country. We will be banging our heads together in finding solutions to our problems.
UDF has been accused left, centre and right of perpetrating political violence. How will you approach the issue of political violence once voted into power?
I strongly condemn violence.My leadership will not condone violence as a strategy of achieving political gains. Political leaders should sometimes should the blame for perpetrating violence becuase of sending wrong messages to their supporters. We fought for democracy and political violence is not democracy.
Just imagine that you have lost the May 18 Presidential Elrections. How will you react?
Democracy is a game of choices. If the people of Malawi chooses somebody else as their State President, I will accept defeat. I will respect the choice of the people. I will congratulate the winner and offer him my support. I will make myself available to him for the sake of national unity and development.
What will be the size of your cabinet?
You cut your suit according to your piece of cloth. My cabinet will reflect the economy of Malawi and the needs of the people. I will scientifically appoint my cabinet. It will be full of professionals. I want my cabinet to be full of professional people who can fight poverty. I will also trim my cabinet and where appropriate and neccessary will combine ministries which would duplicate their tasks and functions.
Some people believe that Dr Bakili Muluzi in his capacity as UDF National Chairman will be influencing your decisions. What is your comment on such claims?
That criticism is malicious. It comes from ignorance. Once I become President I will be guided by the Republican Constitution. Dr Muluzi's position of UDF National Chairman and my position of State President will clearly demonstrate how in democracy separation of powers work. Dr Muluzi will be running the party and I will be running the government. I will be consulting Dr Muluzi just as I will be consulting leaders of other parties.
What is your relationship with the faith community in Malawi?
I have a perfect relationship with all the religious leaders expect two priests. (The Malawi Standard have withdrawn the names of the two priests) The two priests are openly decampaigning me. They have abandoned their pastoral work and decampaigning me.
How far should religious leaders be involved in politics?
I believe religious leaders have a role to play in the political development of the country. I don't look at politics as ndale but as the art of running a government. They are free to tell their members qualities they should look for in a good leader. Unfortunately some religious leaders have gone too far by telling people who to vote for or against. By pressuring their members to vote for a particular candidate, the religious leaders are violating freedom of choice. Let the people choose their leaders. Church ministers vow to serve God and the Bible is their tool in guiding their flock to Paradise. It is very unfortunate to see a priest or reverend standing with a party manifesto at the pulpit instead of the Bible.
Just like during the one party state most Malawian women have been reduced to dancing toys of male politicians. When you are elected how will you break this jinx?
Women constitute 52 percent of our population and as such the need to be given all the opportunities to participate in the development of our country. Women should be treated equally. I however think it is wrong to describe women as dancing toys of men. Dancing is part of our culture. Ingoma and Gule wamkulu dancers are usually men. They too dance for men. We should not mistake our cultural practices for gender discrimination. Even in churches women sing and ululate for God. You can't therefore call them singing or dancing toys.
As a State President, will the media have easy access to you?
I will be readily available to the media. I will let the both the ruling party and the opposition have access to the state media. I will introduce a programme called Meet The Press. One day I may surprise you by phoning you - just to have a brief chat with you. I would like Malawi to have professional journalists who will prop the image of our country abroad.
Zimbabwe schools to fight closure
Some of the private schools closed by the Zimbabwe government for "excessive fee increases" are taking legal action, an official told the BBC.
While others are reducing the scale of their price hikes so they can reopen, reports the state-run Herald newspaper.
Police were posted outside the gates of some of the 45 private schools when the new term began on Tuesday.
Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere accused the previously white schools of increasing fees to keep out blacks.
"It is totally unreasonable for the Mugabe regime to adopt this position," said David Coltart, an opposition MP and chairman of Zimbabwe's Petra independent schools trust.
"We believe they are motivated not by a desire to keep school fees down but by a desire to undermine the urban middle classes, which traditionally support the opposition," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.
He said that parent bodies had approved the increases to maintain standards. ks a
However The Herald reports that the chairman the Watershed College board of governors wrote to parents on Tuesday that fees had been reduced by up to 50% after the proposed increases had been rejected by the Education Ministry.
The school will save money by postponing salary increases for teachers, the paper says.
Schools must seek permission to increase fees by more than 10%. Inflation is currently more than 580%.
Some school officials have accused the ministry of being slow to approve fee hikes.
"We are dealing with racist schools. They are all former white schools, all racist," Mr Chigwedere said on state television.
"They throw Africans out simply by hiking fees."
Before independence in 1980, Zimbabwe's best schools were reserved for whites.
But according to the South African news agency, Sapa, the majority of pupils at Zimbabwe's private schools are now black.
The Herald newspaper reports that 30,000 pupils were affected by the closure.
One of President Robert Mugabe's sons and children of many ministers and ruling party leaders are believed to be among those turned away.
Some schools have proposed raising fees by about 50%, saying that this is necessary to keep pace with the rising cost of inputs and teacher salaries.
Some of Zimbabwe's most prestigious schools are charging tuition fees of up to 30 million Zimbabwe dollars ($5,635) per year.
"Things are bad enough here without being stopped from getting the best education for your child if you can afford it," one father told The Associated Press news agency as his daughter was turned away from school.
In his independence day address on 18 April, President Mugabe also criticised the increase in fees for private schools.
"Our principal goal of attaining education for all appears to be in real jeopardy with some schools charging as much as 10 million (Zimbabwe) dollars a term," the president said.
"The government will soon come up with arrangements which will continue to make education accessible to each and every child regardless of his status or family background."
But some observers say the government has allowed the country's education system to decline, after it was greatly expanded after independence.
State-run schools in the country are reportedly in a critical condition - with many having classes of around 80 pupils.
There is also said to be a shortage of teachers, textbooks, desks and classrooms.
A recent survey by an International Monetary Fund research group, reported that school enrolment had declined by 60% in Zimbabwe last year because of fee hikes in both state and private schools.
Mobile phones the talk of Africa as landlines lose out
05 May 2004 07:19
Africa has become the first continent to have more mobile phone users than fixed-line subscribers.
A report has estimated that there will be 60 million people using mobile phones by the end of the year - more than double the 27 million who have a landline - despite the fact that half of Africans remain out of range of a cellular network.
A new survey by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) found that Africa had become the world's fastest growing mobile phone market.
Over the past five years the continent's mobile phone use has increased at an annual rate of 65%, twice the global average. Africa gained more than 13-million new cellphone subscribers in 2003, bringing its total to more than 52-million.
"Africa is by far the world's fastest growing mobile market," Michael Minges, the author of the ITU's African Indicators report, said. "Mobile communications have had a tremendous impact on improving Africans' access to telecommunications."
He said an important question was whether this rapid growth could be sustained.
The boom in mobile phones in Africa has surprised even the most optimistic observers.
One reason for the rapid growth is that the continent lags far behind the rest of the world in conventional, fixed-line telephone networks, and cellphone networks are much cheaper and faster to establish than stringing up telephone wires.
Just 2,8% of Africans have ordinary telephone services, the world's lowest rate, while 6% use mobile phones.
"Africa has been able to leapfrog from having the most backward systems to taking advantage of the latest technologies," Vanessa Gray, an ITU spokesperson, said.
"The challenge now is not just to increase the level of cellular phone use across Africa, but to increase access to the internet. The availability of information and data on the internet could be a significant boost to the continent's development."
The main hurdle to future growth is that large proportions of the untapped population are rural subsistence farmers whose income may not be sufficient to support a mobile phone network. - Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004
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