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  • Christine Chumbler
    Oct 2, 2000
      Malawian Parliament At Odds With Judiciary

      Panafrican News Agency
      September 30, 2000

      Blantyre, Malawi

      Malawi's Speaker of Parliament Sam
      Mpasu is contesting the High Court's decision to lift the one-year
      suspension on opposition leader Gwanda Chakuamba for
      repeatedly boycotting the Houses sessions, particularly when
      President Bakili Muluzi is present.

      Mpasu said in a statement issued in Blantyre that he would
      summon High Court judge Anaclet Chipeta to explain himself
      before the parliamentarian Public Appointments Committee.

      Chakuamba boycotts any session attended by Muluzi on
      allegations that Muluzi and his ruling United Democratic Front
      (UDF) rigged the June 1999 elections and robbed him of victory.

      The High Court lifted the suspension after Chakuamba had sued
      Parliament, arguing that it calculated to frustrate the opposition
      and elevate his deputy, John Tembo, a purported government
      stooge.

      Chakuamba and Tembo are locked in a bitter leadership feud in
      the opposition Malawi Congress Party. Tembo, a former critic of
      Muluzi's UDF has since started making conciliatory remarks on the
      government, a clear departure from Chakuamba's confrontational
      stance.

      With UDF's backing, Tembo became leader of opposition in
      parliament after Chakumba's suspension. Since then, he has met
      Muluzi twice since he assumed that post.

      In a tersely worded press release, Mpasu accused Chipeta of
      over-reaching himself in his judgement.

      He claimed that the ruling stripped Parliament of its powers to
      discipline its members.

      "We will call the learned judge to ascertain from him if he has not
      violated key sections of the constitution by over-reaching himself
      in this manner," the Speaker's statement said.

      *****

      Muluzi Calls for Rural Electrification

      Panafrican News Agency
      October 2, 2000

      Raphael Tenthani
      Blantyre, Malawi

      Malawi president Bakili Muluzi, who on Saturday switched on
      the 130 million US dollars Kapichira Hydroelectric Power
      Plant to the national grid, has said it is his government's wish
      to make electricity available to the rural masses.

      Muluzi said his government set up the National Electricity
      Council for this purpose.

      "This project has cost us several millions of dollars. Why
      should my poor government invest so much money in
      energy? It is because I strongly believe that energy is the
      life-blood of modern industrial economy," he said.

      The state-run Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi
      (ESCOM) has embarked on a special programme where it
      is supplying electricity to even thatched houses in peri-urban
      centres. Since most people in these areas are low income,
      ESCOM has designed a nominal flat rate charge for the
      electricity.

      Muluzi commended ESCOM for that initiative but asked the
      corporation to extend the project to the rural areas where,
      ironically, close to 90 percent of the population lives but only
      1 percent have access to electricity.

      Malawi's national access to electricity is only 4 percent of
      Malawi's 10 million people, the lowest in the 14-member
      Southern African Development Community (SADC) whose
      average regional electricity accessibility for its combined
      400 million people is 20 percent.

      With the switching on of the new power plant, ESCOM has
      added 64 more megawatts to the national grid, bringing
      ESCOM's power generation capacity to 284.7 MW.

      Managing director Overtone Mandalasi said in an interview
      Monday with the commissioning of the new plant, ESCOM
      customers should experience minimal power interruptions
      and load shedding.

      "Blackouts and load shedding result from disruption in
      supply. I am glad that this new plant has adequate generation
      capacity that even in the event of losing one machine
      (generator), we can still generate power," he said.

      ESCOM is funding 30 percent of the new plant while the rest
      is a loan from the International Development Agency of the
      World Bank, German Development Funding Agency,
      European Investment Bank, Commonwealth Development
      Corporation and the Dutch finance institution, FMO.

      The project is situated at the site of Kapichira Falls on the
      Shire River in the southern district of Chikwawa. The project
      has brought engineers and equipment from all over the world,
      including Argentina, USA, France, Germany and Sweden.

      US-based Tippets-Abbot-MacCathy-Statton Incorporated,
      Piesold and Partners and Merz and McLellan won the
      contract for the hydroelectric power project in 1992.

      *****

      Police consider
      Tsvangirai arrest

      Mr Tsvangirai denies threatening the president
      Police are reported to be considering
      prosecuting the leader of Zimbabwe's main
      opposition party, Morgan Tsvangirai, after he
      allegedly threatened President Robert Mugabe.

      The Movement for Democratic Change leader
      told 20,000 supprters at a rally on Saturday
      that if Mr Mugabe did not want to step down
      before the next elections scheduled for 2002
      "we will remove you violently".

      On Monday, state news agency ZIANA quoted
      police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena as saying
      police were examining Mr Tsvangirai's speech
      with a view to establishing grounds to charge
      him.

      "Any threats of violence
      are unlawful. There are
      legitimate claims for
      police to act and moves
      are already in place,"
      the police spokesman
      was quoted as saying.

      On Sunday, Zimbabwe's
      ruling party warned the MDC that it would
      respond with violence to any attempt forcibly
      to remove President Robert Mugabe from
      office.

      Increasing tension

      MDC secretary for legal affairs David Coltart
      said that Mr Tsvangirai had no legal case to
      answer.

      "The MDC's position is
      that Morgan Tsvangirai
      was giving a warning to
      President Mugabe to
      consider history. There
      is a long line of
      dictators who have
      refused to go
      peacefully - and the
      people have removed
      them violently," he
      said.

      Our correspondent in
      Harare says that Mr Tsvangirai's comments
      reflect an increasing desperation on the part of
      many Zimbabweans as they watch the
      economy continue to disintegrate after months
      of political instability.

      In the run-up June's parliamentary elections at
      least 31 people died - mostly MDC supporters.
      The MDC won 57 seats in parliament ending
      Zanu-PF's virtual monopoly on power since
      independence in 1980.

      However, tension between the opposition and
      ruling party has remained high since then.

      Last week the MDC said a recent grenade
      attack on its hq was the work of a police
      agent, but the government alleged that the
      MDC itself was behind the attack.
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