Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.


Expand Messages
  • Christine Chumbler
    Jan 31, 2001
    • 0 Attachment
      Malawi Gets 19 Million-Dollar Debt Relief

      Panafrican News Agency
      1, 3001
      Posted to the web January 30, 2001


      Bilateral creditors grouped under the Paris Club have cancelled
      19 million US dollars of Malawi's foreign debt, repayment of which
      was due between December 2000 and December 2003.

      A press release issued in Paris by Malawi finance officials said
      representatives from Austria, France, Germany, Japan, Italy,
      Spain, Sweden and the UK debated on the restructuring of
      Malawi's external debt within the framework of the World Bank's
      Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.

      "All bilateral debt contracted by the government from its Paris Club
      creditor countries on concessional terms before January 1997 will
      be rescheduled and repaid over a period of 40 years with a
      16-year grace period," the statement said.

      It added that 90 percent of Malawi's non-concessional debt
      contracted before 1 January 1997 will be cancelled while the
      remaining 10 percent will be rescheduled for repayment over a
      23-year period.

      Malawian officials were upbeat about the fallout from talks with the
      Paris Club.

      "This is a far much better deal than we had hoped for," observed
      Aloysius Naphyiyo, director of administration and finance at the

      Naphyiyo said Malawian finance officials ordinarily expected debt
      cancellation of only three million US dollars and a concession only
      for debt accrued before January 1996.

      However, the Paris Club write-offs were not without conditions.
      Among other things, the seven donor nations expect Malawi to
      implement a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper and effect other
      economic reform programmes.

      Malawi has also been strongly urged to face corruption and waste
      more squarely.

      Observers at the Malawi-Paris Club summit included officials from
      USA, Belgium, Canada, Norway and Russia as well as the IMF, the
      International Development Association, the African Development
      Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and

      Established in 1956, the Paris Club is an informal gathering of
      major industrialised nations who meet regularly in the French
      capital to discuss debts owed by the developing world.


      Malawi High Court Judges 5 On Contempt

      Panafrican News Agency
      January 30, 2001
      Posted to the web January 30, 2001

      Raphael Tenthani
      Blantyre, Malawi

      The Malawi High Court Monday started hearing a case of five men
      charged with contempt of court for violently disrupting an
      opposition political rally in Ndirande, Blantyre's most densely
      populated township.

      The accused include the Mayor of Blantyre, John Chikakwiya; a
      member of the ruling United Democratic Front or UDF, and three
      senior police officers.

      Lawyer's for the National Democratic Alliance or NDA, a pressure
      group formed recently by sacked senior minister Brown
      Mpinganjira complained that Chikakwiya ordered the police to
      disrupt a planned joint rally by NDA and the opposition alliance of
      the Malawi Congress Party or MCP and the Alliance for
      Democracy or AFORD on 15 January 2001.

      Lawyers Viva Nyimba and Ralph Kasambara told presiding judge
      Edward Twea that after Mayor Chikakwiya ran an advert on the
      state-run Malawi Broadcasting Corporation banning any political
      gathering on that day, NDA officials sought a court injunction
      restraining the enforcement of the order.

      High Court judge Dunstain Mwaungulu duly granted the injunction
      but, according to Nyimba, Chikakwiya did not revoke his order.

      Acting on the mayoral orders, the police officers fired teargases
      for five hours to disperse the estimated 10,000 people who had
      come to listen to the opposition.

      The NDA lawyers said this was blatant contempt of court by both
      the mayor and the senior police officers who were also served with
      the order.

      "Your worship, the courts have an interest in preserving that their
      orders are upheld. I therefore pray that the accused people be
      held in contempt and be committed to prison," the lawyer said.

      But the defence lawyer Meyer Chisanga, representing the Mayor,
      and Chief State Advocate MacLean Kamwambi, representing the
      three police officers, argued that since the injunction was served
      late in the day, there was no time to consult on how to react.

      Kamwambi said no police officer after being assigned on a duty,
      can act to the contrary before another order from superiors
      advising otherwise.

      He said since they had received the order to disperse the crowd,
      they had no choice but to carry out that particular order, the court
      injunction notwithstanding.

      The presiding judge, Justice Twea, adjourned the case to next
      Monday when he is expected to make his ruling.

      Whichever way Twea would rule, observers believe this will be a
      test case on the fast changing political landscape in Malawi.

      Since the formation of his pressure group, Mpinganjira has been
      wielding huge support nation-wide especially for his constant call
      for the formation of a government of nation unity involving all the
      country's political parties.

      Mpinganjira's opposition to President Bakili Muluzi's intention to
      run for a third term is also attracting many people.

      The former minister complains of frequent police interference in
      the holding of his rallies.

      He cited last Sunday's episode whereby the police withdrew the
      permission he had received from Lilongwe Mayor Charles
      Chimdzeka to hold a rally in the Malawi capital.

      This he said forced him to address the planned meeting in the
      outskirts of the city without the mayor's permission.

      Meanwhile, the High Court in Blantyre has summoned Dumbo
      Lemani, minister of state for presidential affairs and a close aide of
      President Bakili Muluzi, and Davis Kapito, the ruling UDF's regional
      governor for the south, to appear in court on Thursday to answer
      contempt of court charges.

      Lemani and Kapito allegedly defied an order by Blantyre Principal
      Resident Magistrate Silvester Kalembera who ordered that no
      politician, including the president, should comment on
      Mpinganjira's corruption case in public rallies.

      This was after Mpinganjira's lawyers had complained that senior
      UDF officials were making comments on the judgement on the
      case in their public meetings.

      A defiant Lemani, who has recently come under increasing
      pressure from within the ruling party for allegedly confusing the
      party, was unconcerned, telling journalists in Blantyre he was
      ready to go to jail.

      "I hear they plan to arrest me for two weeks. I am not afraid as
      long as they allow me to go inside with my Bible," he said.

      A group of senior UDF officials last week wrote a letter asking
      President Muluzi to fire Lemani as minister and director of party
      affairs because, according to them, his cowboy antics are draining
      the popularity of the ruling party.


      Red Tape Delays Malawi Corruption Probe

      African Eye News Service
      January 30, 2001
      Posted to the web January 30, 2001

      Brian Ligomeka

      Malawi police are refusing to arrest 11 parliamentarians and 44
      other corruption suspects implicated in a US$2,5 million tender
      scam that rocked President Bakili Muluzi's government last year.

      Police spokesman Oliver Soko said on Tuesday police would not
      arrest anyone until Public Prosecutions Director Farhad Assani
      agreed to hand over his original investigation dockets on the
      suspects, as required by law.

      The syndicate allegedly systematically defrauded government of
      US$2,5 million by awarding construction contracts to non-existent
      companies, or companies owned and operated by friends and

      The scandal sparked an international outcry and prompted
      President Muluzi to axe three cabinet ministers named in an
      interim investigation report.

      One of the ministers, Brown Mpinganjira, was however acquitted
      this month on charges of accepting a bribe in return for approving
      tenders while he was education minister in 1998.

      Mpinganjira's name does not appear in the photocopied dockets
      handed to police last week. The dockets contain evidence
      collected by Malawi's Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), Auditor
      General and Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee.

      Soko said on Friday that police were required by law to present
      the original investigation dockets and all related evidence to court
      immediately after arresting suspects.

      Assani expressed concern, however, that evidence would be lost
      or stolen once handed to police.

      "We decided to only give police photocopies as a safeguard
      against disaster. Police have previously lost exhibits and delayed
      justice because investigations had to be repeated," said Assani.

      Assani meanwhile also confirmed that the Anti-Corruption Bureau
      would establish an internal legal unit and hire additional forensic
      investigators in March following public criticism about the length of
      time it took to investigate cases.

      The bureau currently has only two senior investigators, 12 junior
      investigators and one lawyer, Alexius Nampota, who also doubles
      as its deputy director.

      Bureau director Gilton Chiwaula said on Friday that his Lilongwe
      office received 467 complaints, while the bureau's Blantyre office
      received 192 complaints between July and December 2000.

      Resource and budget constraints meant that only two cases were
      investigated in both of the offices. Chiwaula said the bureau
      needed at least 34 senior investigators to handle its current work
      load. African Eye News Service


      Muluzi Denies Plans For Third Term

      African Eye News Service
      January 30, 2001
      Posted to the web January 30, 2001

      Brian Ligomeka

      Malawi President Bakili Muluzi this week denied weeks of public
      speculation that he intended changing the country's constitution
      and running for a third term in office in 2004.

      Malawi information minister and chief government spokesman,
      Clement Stambuli, said Muluzi would honour existing constitutional
      restrictions limiting presidents to two consecutive five-year terms.

      Stambuli tried last week to defuse growing civil society opposition
      to Muluzi's possible re-election by telling national radio that
      speculation was premature.

      "The ruling United Democratic Front, of which Muluzi is president,
      has also just reviewed its own internal constitution to include the
      same limitation. We would not do this if there were plans for Muluzi
      to run for a third term as national president," said Stambuli.

      The denials contradict public statements a string of senior UDF
      leaders, including Blantyre mayor John Chikakwiya, who told a
      rally that Muluzi would seek re-election despite criticism from
      opposition parties and local human rights watchdogs.

      UDF parliamentarian Elwin Maluwa added that the party was
      already preparing a notion to change the constitution, and insisted
      Malawi's electorate should be allowed to democratically decide
      whether they wanted Muluzi for a third term.

      Stambuli declined to comment, but added on Thursday that the
      UDF would soon convene its first national convention in six years
      to "iron out problems that have been dogging us".

      Stambuli declined to specify the problems but senior party
      members told African Eye News Service there was widespread
      dissatisfaction at Muluzi's ousting of former transport minister
      Brown Mpinganjira's from government and the UDF.

      Mpinganjira, who was viewed as a contender for Muluzi's position,
      was axed from cabinet after being charged with criminal complicity
      in a US$2 million tender scam last year.

      He was, however, acquitted by the country's High Court on
      January 16 due to a lack of evidence, and is focusing on building
      his National Democratic Alliance (NDA) lobby group against "bad

      Mpinganjira claimed on Thursday that he was framed for openly
      opposing attempts to change the constitution, and for criticising
      suggestions that Muluzi be allowed to serve a third term. - African
      Eye News Service


      Malawi To Axe Telecomm Jobs Amid

      Panafrican News Agency
      1, 3001
      Posted to the web January 30, 2001

      Raphael Tenthani

      The Malawi Telecommunication Limited (MTL) is expected to fire at
      least 300 workers, in a move MTL officials said is to improve
      efficiency. But critics see it as a bid to purge the organisation of
      sympathisers of sacked senior Minister Brown Mpinganjira, who
      was in charge of the Information, Broadcasting and
      Telecommunications Ministry.

      Chief Executive Emmanuel Mahuka, told journalists in Blantyre the
      downsizing of MTL's 3,000-plus jobs was necessary to improve the
      corporation's efficiency in the face of stiff competition in the
      liberalised telecommunication industry. MTL, a fixed line telephone
      monopoly, has come under fire from customers for failing to
      improve telecommunications in Malawi.

      Some customers say they have been on the waiting list for a line
      for over 10 years. With the coming of two cellular phone
      operators, MTL's monopoly in phone operators has been shaken.
      Mahuka said it was time MTL woke up to the challenge, adding
      that the retrenchment exercise will flush out unqualified

      "We are carrying out extensive retrenchment, training and
      recruitment of new blood to beef up the existing staff. The
      retrenchment will be from top to bottom. "The board will assess
      and see if some of us are not suitable to carry out our duties," he
      said. But Mpinganjira, who has since formed a pressure group, the
      National Democratic Alliance (NDA), alleged that government was
      witch-hunting his supporters.

      A government source claimed Mpinganjira brought into the
      corporation dozens of people from his home district of Mulanje.
      But he denied the nepotism charge, saying that most of the
      Mulanje people at MTL are qualified for their jobs and joined the
      corporation long before he became Information Minister. "This is
      just an exercise to (remove) those people seen to be my
      supporters," he claimed. Mpinganjira also alleged that some
      sympathisers attending his circus-like two-week trial in Blantyre
      have been earmarked for dismissal.

      Two young men from Television Malawi, the State-run and only
      television station in the country, have lost their jobs for allegedly
      being seen at the court. A recent memo to MTL staffers warned
      that the management Board would not hesitate to sack anybody
      seen politicking during office hours.
    • Show all 1046 messages in this topic