Malawi: More Needs to Be Done to Stem Brain Drain UN Integrated Regional Information Networks April 14, 2006 Posted to the web April 14, 2006 Lilongwe AlthoughMessage 1 of 1046 , Apr 17, 2006View SourceMalawi: More Needs to Be Done to Stem Brain Drain
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
April 14, 2006
Posted to the web April 14, 2006
Although the government has increased salaries and tired to improve the conditions of Malawi's health workers, the country's health professionals warn it is not yet enough to stem the brain drain.
"Top-up [of salaries] has slightly improved the situation. It has been able to attract some retired paramedics or those who resigned because of frustration, but it has failed to retain doctors and registered nurses," said the head of the Nurses and Midwives Council of Malawi, Maureen Chirwa.
Malawi has an extremely low ratio of less than 2 doctors and 29 nurses per 100,000 people, with only 13 Malawian doctors working in the 27 district hospitals. "The main problem is that most of the doctors we sent for training in the UK remain there after completing their studies," deputy director of Clinical Services, Davis Mtotho, told IRIN.
One consequence of staff shortages and the lack of resources was that Malawi's maternal mortality rate in 2004 was among the worst in the world, at 1,800 deaths per 100,000 live births.
That same year, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) stepped in to help support the health system with a US $175 programme to help raise salaries of health workers, double the number of nurses and triple the number of doctors in training. It also turned to international volunteer health workers to temporarily fill gaps while Malawian professionals were being trained.
A DFID statement stressed that, although it was early days in a six-year programme, salary top-ups have had a positive impact on staff numbers, with 450 new health workers hired in the first nine months of the initiative.
"Reports from districts suggest the top-ups have helped slow the exodus of nurses;
the Ministry of Health has recruited over 570 new staff, and aims to fill a further 600 posts by July 2006; recruitment of 61 international volunteers has .. beaten the target set for the first year; new laboratories are being built at the College of Medicine, allowing the start of new degree courses," a DFID statement noted.
However, Chirwa pointed out the majority of doctors and nurses "look beyond salary increments, they are looking at their own personal development, which is not there. Some are interested in specialisation, and they cannot find it here in Malawi. Others need better housing and better education for their children, which cannot be provided in remote parts of the country".
Malawi is a poor landlocked country, which in recent years has struggled to feed itself; 30 percent of the population goes hungry for at least three months every year. Most hospitals do not have adequate equipment, and an HIV infection rate among adults of 14.2 percent has increased the workload of health workers, while also cutting into staff numbers.
At the launch last week of a World Health Organisation (WHO) global health report, Luis Sambo, Regional Director for Africa, said the chronic shortage of staff across the continent was a direct result of decades of under-investment in education, training, salaries and working conditions. He called on national governments and the international community to do more to address the crisis.
Lawyers caution on Domestic Violence Bill
by Bright Sonani, 16 April 2006 - 06:54:28
Rubbish. This is the view of lawyers in the country over the proposed legislature on domestic violence, due to come up in Parliament during the current sitting.
Punching holes in the proposal that some commentators fear might only serve to destroy family life than usher in peace and understanding, General Secretary of the Malawi Law Society (MLS), Maureen Kondowe, says the document is a badly drafted bill.
It would be costly to implement and a threat to the social and cultural fabric of the country if it passes in its present form, says Kondowe.
She agrees that it is necessary to have a law that would protect victims of domestic violence but emphasises that any law to deal with that needs to have practically realistic enforcement measures that take into account the country's socio-economic and cultural contexts.
"This is a badly drafted piece of legislation. [It] needs further consultation and more work as we risk destroying the social and cultural fabric of Malawi if it is enacted in its present form."
She notes that no one can deny the rise in incidents of domestic violence cases in the country, which makes the proposal to have this legislation a noble one.
However, the problem with it is that "it has totally ignored Malawi's social and cultural realities. Culturally, matters of this sort are dealt with by marriage advocates, yet they have been given no defined roles or duties," she points out.
The other 'greatest' omission is the bill's "total disregard of circumstances giving rise to the acts of violence, Kondowe says. In this regard the proposal should have considered that while violence is unacceptable, it is often provoked and at times a protection measure or an expected reaction to provocation.
The bill is also in danger of "flouting established rules of evidence if enacted in its present form" because of its apparent relaxation of the rules of evidence and permitting applicants to rely on hearsay evidence.
"The standard of proof in any criminal case is proof beyond reasonable doubt. It is surprising that the proposed legislation lowers this standard to proof on a balance of probabilities, yet people may be thrown out of their properties and be required to pay up to K1 million," she points out.
She observes that the proposed compensation of not more than K1 million is unrealistic considering the country's local socio-economic context. The biggest joke about the amount, probably, is the lack of definition of courts that would try cases of domestic violence.
In the draft bill power to try these cases has been given to any court within or near where an applicant or accused person resides or works "without considering Malawi's geographical location of courts, their prescribed criminal jurisdiction and sentencing powers."
Kondowe suggests that since the country has only four High Courts * in Blantyre, Lilongwe, Zomba and Mzuzu * magistrates courts would be better placed to deal with such cases since they are sited within reach of people.
Minister of Gender, Joyce Banda, whose ministry is behind the proposed bill parries away criticisms saying people should thoroughly understand its intentions before throwing stones at the framers.
Its purpose, she says, is to act as a deterrent to the many incidents of domestic violence in the community.
The main thrust of the bill is to give powers to police and neighbours to protect victims of domestic violence, she says.
"These orders are temporary until the issues in that particular home are resolved," she defends the document.
In present circumstances fights or bitter quarrels between spouses or relations are considered a family affair. Anyone trying to intervene would be considered a fool and dismissed as an intruder, even by the weaker person one intends to help. This is one reason why, for instance, a woman today can be battered by her husband in full view of a crowd that watches helplessly.
Banda does not flinch on the inclusion of "visiting relationships" in the proposed legislature. "If there is proof and evidence that the man has been visiting that particular woman and sleeping in the house, this Act would give powers to the woman to go and get an order to stop the man coming into the house. But the bill protects both men and women," she quickly adds, before one could accuse her of coming up with a document that is only female friendly.
Kondowe too agrees that there is no problem with visiting relationships being taken on board in the bill because "violence occurs even in such relationships."
The MLS also finds fault with the proposed legislature in the following areas and says:
*The proposed protection, occupation, and tenancy orders would encourage vexations and frivolous allegations of domestic violence since the degree of violence that would lead to the orders' application is not clear.
*There is failure on tenancy orders to recognise that landlords have the freedom to contract and choose a tenant of their property.
Kondowe stresses that in the event that a property was acquired using resources of only one party, it would be absurd for the sole owner to be deprived of their right to enjoy property on allegations of domestic violence. "Where would the person then live?"
The responsible committee is currently sensitizing legislators on the contents of the proposed bill so that they are ready to discuss it when it is presented in the House. So far, it seems to be facing strong condemnation from political parties and civil society *who have punched holes in it saying some of the issues it raises and advocates are laughable and contrary to the country's traditions and culture.
Wives at risk in own bedrooms*Malewezi
by Bright Sonani, 16 April 2006 - 07:00:41
Married women are more vulnerable to contracting HIV/AIDS from within the confines and comfort of their bedrooms, than sex workers who are normally considered to be of high risk.
This is due to cultural beliefs and religious convictions that oblige wives to be respectful of and obedient to their husbands even when there is enough ground to suspect infidelity, says Justin Malewezi who chaired the Parliamentary Committee on HIV/AIDS.
In short, because women cannot question movements and habits of their spouses, they are often infected with the virus by own husbands in their bedrooms that are supposed to be safe havens.
In most families, it is usually the husband who, for example, travels 'out on duty' from base for a number of nights. What the husband does while 'out on duty' and how he conducts himself during hours of relaxation at a hotel or lodge is almost sacrosanct * never disclosed to the wife.
Even if the wife suspects that the husband is straying and being unfaithful, she will not question anything but give in to his sexual advances thus putting herself at a very high risk of contracting the virus in a family bedroom. "This is because a woman was brought up not to question the husband and to be submissive. They also want to save their marriages," observes Malewezi.
He adds: "It is [also] very difficult for women to suggest the use of condoms out of fear that the husband will turn against her and accuse her of having an affair."
Apart from culture and religion, the blame is also put squarely on the general lack of economic empowerment of the woman that breeds a feeling of insecurity. Malewezi observes that "these hinder women from asking their husbands to use condoms," unlike sex workers who put it as first condition before engaging in sex with clients.
Malewezi advises that if the fight against HIV/AIDS is to be won, the country should not only look at one approach to the problem. "Even the ABC approach is not enough. The country should also look into cultural and gender issues to fight the spread of the virus."
The ABC approach stresses the need for ABSTENANCE from sex for people who, in the first place should not indulge in the activity when not married; BEING FAITHFUL to one's partner for those who are married and if the above won't work use of CONDOMS each time one indulges in intercourse.
Commenting on condoms, Malewezi says scientifically these have been proved to be useful in curbing the spread of the HIV. "However, there are two problems: the condom must be used properly and consistently," he says, noting that most people fail in this regard.
The question remains: in the family how can the woman be freed and allowed to protect herself from this latent danger she lives with? The same applies in a situation where it is the wife who travels frequently.
Some husbands testify that attempts to suggest to wives that they go for voluntary counselling and aids test explode into fierce arguments.
"Sometimes even suggesting use of a condom to a wife turns nasty as she wonders whether it is you who is not sure of your status," offers Dave, a Blantyre resident.
Dave says for quite a long period he had been having it plain with the wife because they trusted each other. However, due to increased knowledge and awareness of various ways of getting infected with the virus and advantages of taking precautions, he thought they could start using condoms.
"I regret the night I mentioned this subject. My wife exploded and demanded to know which woman had taken her place and damaged me?" Dave says.
Chilumpha back at Mudi
by Bright Sonani, 16 April 2006 - 06:58:48
Vice President Cassim Chilumpha who recently relocated to Lilongwe in line with President Bingu wa Mutharika's directive that all cabinet ministers should reside in the Capital has made a u-turn and is once again operating from his Mudi Residence in Blantyre.
Chilumpha is said to have moved to Blantyre after observing that his Lilongwe Area 12 house was not yet ready for occupation as workers were still working on inside details during his brief stay there.
The Veep's Public Relations Officer Horace Nyaka confirmed that his boss was at Mudi but said although the uncompleted work was one of the reasons why Chilumpha went back, he also had several issues to sort out in Blantyre.
"The house in Lilongwe is ready and I can say he has occupied it, but when he moved in technicians were still working on the phones. That is why he had to go back," he said adding that the Veep would be returning as soon as the technicians were through.
Nyaka also explained that although Chilumpha had moved to Lilongwe it did not mean that he would not be using Mudi House, saying whenever he has assignments in the south that would be his residence.
"That is why there is provision for accommodation both in Blantyre and Mzuzu. Once in a while the Vice President will have assignments in these regions and it would be quite expensive to be travelling from Lilongwe everyday, or to sleep in hotels," he said.
Deputy Information Minister John Bande however said he was not aware that Chilumpha was back in Blantyre.
"I need to find out; because of his past behaviour I would not be surprised to hear that he has found such a small excuse and is back in Blantyre," said Bande.
Chilumpha, who is currently battling with Mutharika in court for the acceptance of his 'constructive resignation' surprised the nation last month when he moved to Lilongwe after over 20 months since Mutharika directed that all cabinet ministers relocate to Lilongwe.
Kutengule posted to OPC
by Joseph Langa, 15 April 2006 - 05:02:20
Interdicted Secretary to the Treasury (ST) Milton Kutengule has been given a new job as Principal Secretary (PS) in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), Weekend Nation has established.
Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Public Service and Human Resource Development, Bright Msaka confirmed the posting on Wednesday in an interview.
Msaka said Kutengule was posted when President Bingu wa Mutharika appointed Randson Mwadiwa as Secretary to the Treasury replacing acting ST Patrick Kabambe who was appointed Secretary for Agriculture.
Kabambe started acting last October when Kutengule was interdicted and later arrested in connection with his involvement in the K20 million Credit Scheme Account for which he was a sole signatory, a development that resulted in theft of government money.
Kutengule refused to comment when contacted Wednesday and referred the matter to Msaka saying he is the best person to comment on the issue.
Apart from Kutengule, the Credit Scheme Account also implicated Mutharika, convicted former Education Minister Yusuf Mwawa, Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe and several other cabinet ministers and senior government officials.
Part of the money was alleged to have been used to fund Mardef's initial activities. Some of it was said to have been used for wooing MPs to support government. The Public Finance Committee of Parliament is supposed to come up with a report on the matter and recommendation on the way forward.
Kutengule's issue was one of the grounds the UDF used in its bid to impeach President Mutharika in Parliament.
Msaka said Kutengule was posted on the same conditions as ST saying he will remain interdicted which means he will not be getting his pay and all his benefits under the contract which will remain suspended.
But senior officials in OPC said Kutengule's posting was done to pave way for the appointment of Mwadiwa because it was not possible for Mutharika to replace Kutengule as ST when he (Kutengule) was still legally holding the position.
Secretary for Human Resource and Development Sam Madula said PSs can be moved any time because their jobs are administrative in nature.
MCP admits MPs wanted Tembo out
by Joseph Langa, 15 April 2006 - 04:59:19
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) has admitted that there were some Members of Parliament who wanted to remove the party's leader John Tembo as Leader of Opposition in the House, but the party has said most of them have backtracked from the move.
Some MPs, who are ring-leaders in the plot, told Weekend Nation they feel the plot to remove Tembo cannot work because most of the MPs who had shown interest to join them have backed off.
"We had 36 MPs from almost all the districts in the Central Region, but most of them do not want to hear this issue now because the president has confronted them directly or indirectly," said the MP from Kasungu.
He said some of the MPs do not see the benefit of removing Tembo because they feel DPP, which has been coaxing them to back the move, has not made any concrete promises on how it will reward them for their support except to the few MPs who are the ring leaders.
But the MP said as of this week only six MPs still want Tembo out.
"These are the ones who drafted a petition during their last meeting," he said.
Another MP, who was also one of the ring leaders, confirmed they have been fighting a losing battle "because they now don't see anyone in the party who can replace Tembo as Leader of Opposition in Parliament or as the party's President".
"Tell me who could replace Tembo. This will not succeed. If you fall out of grace with Tembo in the Central Region, my brother you are gone," said the MP who is from Mchinji.
The MP also said he is bitter with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which is not giving them a clear indication on what they would benefit from supporting the move. The MP accused DPP cabinet ministers of wasting time by fighting each other over the issue.
"Everyone is telling us a different story. I think they are not serious," said the MP.
Another MP from Lilongwe, who was said to be advocating for Tembo's ouster, shouted at the reporter when asked whether he is still baying for Tembo's blood saying he doesn't want to be associated with such issues any more.
Another MP also from Lilongwe, who was mentioned as one of the ring leaders, also said he doesn't want to be party to the allegations saying although there are sticking issues to be sorted out, he is no longer part of the plans to remove Tembo.
For the first time, MCP confirmed through Tembo's political personal assistant Potipher Chidaya some MPs wanted Tembo to be removed.
Chidaya said one of two MPs, who was once very close to Tembo, asked him (Chidaya) to support the move.
He also said some MPs who used to be very loyal to the party's leadership are no longer as loyal as before.
"But what can two MPs (names withheld) do?" said Chidaya, adding that almost all the MPs have chickened out of the plot because they say they have realised MCP needs someone like Tembo and that they cannot succeed to remove him.
"If they were still contemplating to remove him, they could have told me as they did before. But their plan has reached a dead end."
He claimed DPP, which allegedly promised ministerial positions to MCP MPs, was behind the move. DPP has failed to penetrate the Central Region.
"This is our base," claimed Chidaya.
But two DPP officials, deputy national organising secretary Henry Mumba, who is also deputy minister for Agriculture and regional governor for the Centre, Kalanzi Mbewe, said in separate interviews the party has not failed to woo MCP MPs into their camp claiming several of them support government. They did not mention names.
Mumba, who said he is one of the officials that are wooing MCP MPs into the DPP camp, said the party has gained ground in the region and claimed most MPs have joined them but are just afraid to come in the open. He said as a senior DPP and cabinet member, he has a duty to strengthen his party.
On his part, Mbewe claimed DPP has so far penetrated Dowa, Dedza, Kasungu, Mchinji, Lilongwe and Ntchisi, but could not mention the names or the number of MPs they have managed to bring to their side.
"You will see them once they start voting in Parliament. They already respect me as their governor. I was with some of them this week and they assured me that we should not worry. We are together," Kalanzi said.
Mugabe's visit to Malawi: Zanu-PF, DPP to sign pact
by Gedion Munthali, 15 April 2006 - 04:53:32
Western diplomats and political analysts have described as suicidal Malawi Government's hosting of Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe next month, when the Zimbabwe leader is expected to open an EU-funded road which will be named after him.
And if words of our two diplomatic sources are anything to go by, the Midima road opening ceremony will be boycotted by a number of Western representatives.
Two diplomatic sources working for two foreign missions in Malawi indicated that a clear position will be known once full details of Mugabe's visit are known.
"Our policy is not to interfere in internal affairs of any country but there are certain things that sovereign countries must always consider. I mean, there will always be diplomatic sensitivities. The EU has problems with Mugabe, the same bloc funded the road in question, now what do you think the reaction in Brussels will be?" questioned one diplomat.
"The answer is that there will be resentment, this is the reaction that will filter to its membership," he added.
Said the other diplomat: "Obviously there will be unhappiness in the EU membership, you might see some boycotts or low key representation at the ceremony."
The diplomats were reacting to Foreign Affairs Minister Davis Katsonga's confirmation that Mugabe will visit Malawi next month, and will among other things open the Midima road which connects Blantyre and Mulanje.
Information Minister Patricia Kaliati on Friday said government will proceed to host Mugabe and name the road after him because Malawi is a sovereign state and some civil society organisations are being used by some members of the donor community.
"If some countries have problems with Zimbabwe, that should not concern us. Malawi is a sovereign state, fully entitled to choose its friends," said Kaliati without mentioning the countries.
"Zimbabwe has been a friend of Malawi for a long time, and it is playing host to over 5 million Malawians. If we quarrel with Mugabe, where will these Malawians go? Will some of these Western countries host them?" she questioned.
Kaliati said government does not share the position of civil society organisations.
"They are free to express their opinions and they can hold their demonstrations. Malawi is a democratic state. But government has a different view. We believe Zimbabwe is more than a friend, and by naming the road after Mugabe we are underlining this fact," said Kaliati. "When the EU funded the project, the condition was not that Mugabe should not open it. That is no where in the agreement."
Rafiq Hajat, Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI), a Blantyre-based think tank, said on Thursday Mugabe's visit was "highly irresponsible and counterproductive on the part of the Malawi Government and President Bingu wa Mutharika."
"This is highly counterproductive. Inviting Mugabe to Malawi to perform the functions that have been lined up for him, is tantamount to acknowledging his successes and applauding the hardships that have visited the people of Zimbabwe at his hands," said Hajat. "We are setting a very bad example."
Hajat said by honouring Mugabe to open the Midima road, "which was funded by the European Union", and naming it after "a dictator", Malawi was slapping the Union in the face.
"What message are we sending?" asked Hajat, and answered the question himself: "We are slapping the EU in the face. If we are so obsessed with Zimbabwe, why can't we name the road after one unsung hero Attati Mpakati who was hand-bombed on the streets of Harare?"
Mugabe, who is renowned for using public platforms to lash out at the West, notably Britain*Malawi's largest bilateral donor*and United States, is under some EU sanctions, including selected travel restrictions.
"If he lashes out at Britain and the United States we will be committing suicide," warned Hajat. "We are just recovering from donor fatigue, we do not have the luxury of being self-sufficient to be doing this."
Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC)*an umbrella body of over 50 human rights organisation in Malawi*will stage demonstrations during Mugabe's visit, to protest against the poor human rights record of his administration.
HRCC chair Rodgers Newa said on Thursday keeping quiet during Mugabe's visit would be a "regrettable endorsement of the atrocities that are taking place against the great of people of Zimbabwe and all those who have encountered the wrath of the prevalent brutality."
"Definitely, we will stage sustained demonstrations from the first to the last day of the visit," said Newa. "We cannot keep quiet. We cannot stop him from coming to Malawi although we would rather he did not come," said Newa.
He said his organisation has been preparing for Mugabe once it was learnt he was coming to Malawi.
Meanwhile, Mutharika's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Zimbabwe Africa National Union*Patrotic Front (ZANU*PF) will sign a cooperation agreement during the visit, DPP and government officials disclosed on Thursday.
A member of the DPP national governing council disclosed Thursday that the agreement will cement an informal relationship that has existed between the two parties since President Mutharika formed his party last year.
"One of the things that will happen during the visit is to formalise a working relationship between the two parties," said governing council member. "This means the two parties will be working like sisters or brothers."
ZANU PF*which has been in power since 1980 when Zimbabwe gained its independence from the British colonial masters*stands accused of presiding over an administration tainted by human rights violations and economic decline, with current inflation hovering at around 900 percent.
A senior government official involved in the preparations for Mugabe's visit said the agreement is expected to be signed at the New State House on May 3, 2005 in presence of members of the DPP national governing council and the ZANU*PF politburo.
"It is true arrangements are being made for the function you are talking about," said the official. "This will be a climax of the discussion the two leaders have had for some time now."
Ntaba said on Thursday he would make a comment on behalf of the party once "we have been supplied with details of President Mugabe's visit."
"I cannot comment now, until we get details from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At the moment we have not been given any details. Once we get the details, I give you a comment," said Ntaba.
He declined to comment on whether or not DPP is informally working with ZANU*PF.
Foreign Affairs Minister Katsonga said details of the visit will not be released until on the eve of Mugabe's arrival, citing security considerations.
"It will be too early to release a full programme of President Mugabe's visit, but it will be made public at the appropriate time," said Katsonga on Thursday.
When Muluzi was in power he tried to mediate between Mugabe and Opposition. He also tried, together with other SADC leaders, to persuade Mugabe to slow down on his fast-track land expropriation programme which has impoverished the once bread basket for the region. There were fears that Malawi would be affected by the spill-over effect on economic collapse in our second biggest regional trading partner.
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