Gun-toting Malawian leaders held Three senior members of Malawi s ruling party have been arrested for carrying guns to a meeting with the president. The threeMessage 1 of 1046 , Jan 5, 2005View SourceGun-toting Malawian leaders held
Three senior members of Malawi's ruling party have been arrested for
carrying guns to a meeting with the president.
The three politicians were arrested as they entered the presidential
The talks were about a growing rift between President Bingu wa
Mutharika and United Democratic Front leaders over an anti-corruption
Deputy transport minister Roy Cumsay, Harry Thomson and MP Alfred
Mwechumu have been charged with breach of the peace and released on
One of the politicians said he always carried a gun for his personal
The BBC's Raphael Tenthani says that President Mutharika's relationship
with the ruling party has been deteriorating since his election last
Several top UDF leaders have been arrested in connection with
corruption and fraud scandals.
The meeting on 3 January, which was also being attended by former
president Bakili Muluzi, was intended to end the rift but was abandoned
after the weapons were discovered.
In the Zambian dock, it's good to be a man
Zarina Geloo | Lusaka, Zambia
05 January 2005 08:26
In Zambia, the battle for equality between men and women is being waged
on many fronts -- not least concerning the sentences handed down by
The trial of Chrystal Denn is a case in point.
In the course of her turbulent five-year marriage to Trevor, a
professional football player, Chrystal suffered extensive spousal abuse.
Her husband beat her up, both at home and in full view of others.
After a failed suicide attempt, Chrystal finally killed her spouse in
the course of an argument, in 1999. She was sentenced to life
Women's rights activists promptly lobbied for the sentence to be
overturned -- not because they condoned Denn's actions but because they
felt the law was not being fairly applied in Zambia.
Men who kill their wives in this Southern African country are typically
charged with manslaughter, rather than the more serious crime of
Many are given suspended sentences -- others serve about three years of
jail time, at most. No man has ever been sentenced to life imprisonment
for killing his wife.
"It is time to redress this imbalance. It is time to have the law
applied to all, equitably," says Matrine Chuulu, national coordinator of
the Zambian chapter of Women in Law in Southern Africa (Wilsa), a
regional network of lawyers.
In a recent publication entitled Justice for All, Wilsa gives
additional examples of cases that demonstrate the imbalance in
sentencing for men and women.
It cites a 1994 case involving Teddy Kasuba, who opened fire on a car
that his wife was travelling in, killing her.
After Kasuba claimed that he had been confused at the time of the
incident, the court said his actions reflected what "any reasonable man
could have done". It convicted him of manslaughter, and gave him a
The husband of Nolisa Nata beat her to death in 1998. But the court
sentenced him to 18 months in jail for manslaughter -- and advised him
not to be violent when he remarried, "because you may not be so lucky
This contrasts sharply with the case of Esther Mwiimbe, who killed her
abusive husband in 1984 by pouring boiling oil over him after he
threatened to kill her and her children.
Mwiimbe pleaded self-defence and cumulative provocation. But, the court
rejected the plea and sentenced her to death.
She was pardoned by former president Kenneth Kaunda in 1991 after
spending more than seven years in prison.
Effects of abuse
Chuulu says Zambian courts are failing to recognise the effects of
domestic abuse when considering the mental state of women involved in
killings: "The court is quick to reduce charges of femicide to
manslaughter on claims of provocation for the slightest of wrongs,
ranging from not cooking food to serving cold food -- but does not
consider the same in homicides."
Instead, notes the Wilsa report, there is a tendency to focus on "what
the woman did to bring this upon herself".
Take the case of Margaret Kazhila, who was killed by her husband in
1998 after a domestic dispute: the court sentenced her husband to just
12 months' imprisonment, because "the deceased was to blame".
This trend was clearly evident during Mwiimbe's trial.
Her husband was a high-ranking member of the intelligence services, who
had subjected Mwiimbe to the same torture techniques used against people
interrogated by the state.
Mwiimbe's vagina and toenails were burnt with sulphuric acid; she also
suffered stomach problems because of numerous beatings with sticks,
iron-fitted hosepipes and her husband's fists.
"I had a police file which tabulated all the complaints I had laid over
the years about my husband's cruelty," says Mwiimbe. "But that file was
never produced in court. It disappeared and I was seen by the court as a
Mwiimbe says the judge in her trial admitted, upon her release, that
the material in the file might have changed his view of the case.
But she is sceptical about whether this sort of pronouncement marks a
change in the way the legal system views women who kill their partners,
claiming the courts "are naturally" biased against them.
"The judges are men, so they empathise with their menfolk," observes
Mwiimbe. "It's a cultural thing -- women are considered chattels ...
[and] people are uncomfortable about dealing with spousal abuse, so they
do not want to deal with its results."
Classified as assaults
This is further reflected in the way in which cases of domestic abuse
are handled. Under Zambian law, these incidents are generally classified
In cases where the parties are not related, the police and courts take
claims of assault seriously.
But, if the parties are husband and wife, the matter tends to be
considered a "domestic dispute" -- and not worth the trouble of
In the case of Denn, the court recognised that her marriage had not
been a peaceful one, but refused to take into account the eight reports
filed about her husband's abuse.
These included documentation of an incident in which he demanded to
inspect her sexual organs for evidence of infidelity -- this in the
presence of a servant.
The court also refused to consider the fact that Denn had two small
children who were in need of care.
Yet, in another case involving a man who beat his wife to death, the
court said it was mindful that the accused would now have to look after
his children alone.
The judge sentenced him to only two years' imprisonment.
"The court looks from the point of a view of a reasonable man and not
from the view of a reasonable battered woman," says former Judge Fuckfon
Kabazo, adding: "The threat of being killed or severely injured is very
real for any battered woman, and it is time the courts recognised the
reality of the dangers for many women."
There are currently two cases pending of women who killed their
husbands in 2004.
Chrystal Denn, meanwhile, has reached the end of the road in the quest
for her sentence -- which has now been reduced to 15 years -- to be
Her final hope is Article 59 of the Constitution, which allows the head
of state to pardon or reduce the sentence of a convict.
Wilsa has petitioned the president in this regard, and is awaiting a
response. -- Sapa-IPS
Zambia's Kaunda rejects legal bill
The founding president of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda, has refused to pay a
legal bill of $600,000.
Mr Kaunda said in a statement he had not contracted any of the lawyers
who defended him in cases under Frederick Chiluba's previous government.
"I never gave instructions to any of the lawyers to act for me," he
"They only came forward in solidarity as a result of victimisation and
harassment suffered at the hands of Chiluba's government."
During the 1990s, a group of lawyers teamed up to defend Mr Kaunda in a
number of cases including once when Mr Chiluba's government attempted to
deport him for being Malawian, his office said.
He was also arrested for unlawful assembly and he challenged the 1996
presidential election result after being barred from contesting the
polls for having a foreign parent.
Mr Kaunda, who is 80, led Zambia from 1964 until stepping down after
landmark multiparty elections in 1991.
Cracks widen in Zimbabwe's ruling party
05 January 2005 11:58
Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party was wracked by further divisions on
Tuesday when ordinary members briefly held hostage National Political
Commissar Elliot Manyika.
Protesters, many of them from Zanu-PF's Women's League, blocked the
entrance to Zanu-PF's looming headquarters in downtown Harare, refusing
to let Manyika leave the premises until he addressed them.
Attempts by Manyika's driver to force his Mitsubishi twin-cab through
the crowd failed as angry protesters swarmed the vehicle. Efforts by
police to disperse the crowd failed.
Eventually Manyika, a fierce Mugabe loyalist, emerged from the car.
"I am not running away," he claimed. "I have been called to an urgent
meeting by [Zanu-PF national chairperson] John Nkomo and I am coming
back to attend to your grievances."
Meanwhile, the Zanu-PF protesters said they are unhappy with the
imposition of candidates for soon-to-be-held party primary elections.
Zanu-PF leaders have in recent days banned, barred and dropped several
senior members, denying them the right to hold office in the ruling
The move, which has been described as the worst split in Zanu-PF since
the 1970s, has seen the party divide into several factions.
Rural divisions have also erupted in recent weeks, with police having
to quell fighting between Zanu-PF factions.
Recent skirmishes in the eastern district of Makoni have seen
Agriculture Minister Joseph Made accused of fanning violence by "hiring
thugs" to disrupt meetings held by his opponent in the primaries, MP
The alleged violence prompted Munyoro to write to Zanu-PF leaders,
complaining that his meetings have been disrupted.
"To my surprise, Dr Made has been hiring thugs in the form of workers
from the local Grain Marketing Board depot in Makoni district to disrupt
my peaceful meetings, despite warnings by the police in nearby Rusape to
campaign peacefully," Munyoro wrote in a letter to Zanu-PF's Nkomo.
Made denies the allegations.
The intra-party violence follows similar charges that saw gangs of
warring Zanu-PF thugs clash in the northern Lomagundi district last
month. Supporters of Zanu-PF lawmaker Kindness Paradza and Leo Mugabe,
the president's nephew, clashed at Hombwe business centre, resulting in
several arrests. -- Sapa
Somali tsunami toll victims rise
Almost 300 Somalis have died in the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster, the
regional authorities are saying.
At a news conference, officials in the semi-independent region of
Puntland announced that 298 Somalis had died.
The giant waves hit the north-eastern Somali coastline at the height of
the fishing season, when the population of coastal villages is larger
The United Nations has distributed more than 150 tons of food aid and
helped 9,000 Somalis so far, it says.
The UN agency, the World Food Programme, says it is preparing to help
almost double that number.
The largest quantities of food are being distributed in the Hafun
peninsular, which was one of the worst affected areas.
A UN team is travelling to the area to assess the situation.
On Tuesday the UN launched an appeal for help for saying at least $13m
was urgently needed to help the 54,000 Somalis affected by the tsunami.
Along the north-eastern coast a large number of shelters, fishing boats
and equipment have been lost or damaged and wells have been washed away.
Relief workers have been trying to distribute immediate aid, such as
food and clean water, to survivors.
But they say they are finding it difficult to reach a number of areas
because some of the road tracks have become impassable and the main
bridge which connects the Hafun peninsula to the Somali mainland has
been washed away.
US and German soldiers, based in neighbouring Djibouti, have been
helping aid agencies in Somalia to get fresh water and other supplies to
Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Ghedi cancelled a planned visit to
the affected region at the weekend.
It would have been his first trip to Somalia since his appointment from
exile in Kenya.
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