- Feb 1, 2001Malawi minister causes
By Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre
Malawi's commercial capital Blantyre witnessed
high drama on Thursday as a government
minister appeared in court.
A visibly unconcerned Dumbo Lemani, the
minister of state for presidential affairs arrived
at the High Court in style.
Chauffeur driven in a
Mercedez Benz saloon
number plates - Dumbo
1 - Mr Lemani told the
that he had brought
with him a suitcase ready to go to prison.
Mr Lemani is charged with contempt of court
for ignoring a gagging order.
"I tasted Kamuzu's prison," he said referring to
former president Hastings Kamuzu Banda's
notorious prisons. "I want to taste [President]
Dr Bakili Muluzi's now."
Inside, the court heard how Mr Lemani had
ignored a court ruling stopping politicians
commenting on the corruption case of sacked
minister Brown Mpinganjira.
The case was adjourned to allow the defence
more time to prepare its case.
Outside the courtMr
Lemani displayed his
He led a group of at
least 200 supporters,
women, in song and
Despite protestations from court officials that
the noise his supporters were making was
disturbing other cases in progress, the minister
went ahead to address his supporters on the
"I am not afraid of prospects of going to jail
because with the coming to power of President
Bakili Muluzi, human rights in prisons have
greatly improved," he said.
About 20 NDA supporters and officials, who
came for the case, were grossly outnumbered
and overwhelmed by Mr Lemani's vocal
They just looked on as the minister and a
horde of UDF MPs and officials criticised their
Mr Lemani, who is never far from controversy,
is the first minister in all President Muluzi's
seven years in power to appear in court while
still a minister.
Known as cowboy for his sometimes rowdy
antics, Lemani is a trained church minister
whom President Muluzi recently jokingly
referred to as the "reverend without a church."
Fugitive MP Alleges Political Harassment
Panafrican News Agency
January 31, 2001
Posted to the web January 31, 2001
A Member of Parliament from the ruling United Democratic Front
(UDF), from the central district of Kasungu is on the run after
allegedly being roughed up by fellow party members on suspicion
that he supports dismissed minister Brown Mpinganjira's National
Democratic Alliance (NDA) pressure group.
Bamani Zgambo said Wednesday from his hideout that on Friday
members of the UDF's Young Democrats (militia thugs) confronted
him at the UDF office in the district. They asked him why he had
attended Mpinganjira's rally in the northern city of Mzuzu a
fortnight ago, he said.
"I was being forced to declare my allegiance to Hon. Mpinganjira,"
Zgambo claimed that his interrogators were not satisfied with his
answers and decided to go physical with him. He said he was
beaten so hard that he had to report to police in order to seek
treatment at the hospital.
A little publicised Malawi law requires those injured in violent
incidents to report to the police first before getting treatment.
A nurse at Kasungu District Hospital confirmed treating Zgambo of
bruises and nose bleeding.
The MP, who claimed he has not recovered fully from the assault,
said he attended the rally because the NDA was not a political
party, but a mere pressure group.
He said he had to flee Kasungu with his family for fear of his life.
He said he has since lodged an official complaint with the UDF
deputy secretary general, Paul Maulidi, of his treatment and
warned that the assault would make him reconsider his affiliation
to the ruling party.
Maulidi confirmed receiving a complaint from Zgambo but told
PANA that if Zgambo was indeed roughed up it was not sanctioned
by the UDF politburo.
"That notwithstanding, I summoned Zgambo to a meeting with his
alleged assailants. The MP did not turn up," he said.
Zgambo said he could not attend the meeting because he did not
want to blow his cover.
The fugitive MP is not new to controversy. He went into politics as
an MP for the main opposition Malawi Congress Party, or MCP, but
defected to the ruling party.
He later claimed that he had to borrow money to fund the
by-election his defection had caused with promises that the UDF
would refund him the campaign expenses.
After the elections the party did not refund him, making his
creditors to confiscate his two vehicles, he added.
UDF secretary-general Willie Katenga Kaunda described that
claim as nonsense.
The political fall-out following Mpinganjira's own fall from grace
does not seem to show any sign of dissipating any time soon.
On Monday, it was reported that 300 people have been
earmarked for dismissal at the Malawi Telecommunications Limited
allegedly for being Mpinganjira supporters.
Parastatals with board members believed to be sympathetic to him
have been replaced. Many others lost their jobs since Mpinganjira
publicly said he was against Malawi President Bakili Muluzi's
intention to run for a third term, a provision not provided for in the
ZIM VETS STORM
Joseph Msika has criticised
independence war veterans who
have stormed six local
government offices in the last two
weeks, driving out workers
suspected of supporting the
opposition. "Listen, you are losing
direction. You are now closing
government and council offices,
beating up workers and chasing
them away. You are getting lost,
bafana (boys)," state media
quoted Msika as saying. The
veterans have invaded hundreds
of white-owned farms and last
year led violent campaigning for
parliamentary elections. - Reuters
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