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  • Christine Chumbler
    Jan 29, 2004
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      Malawi's Vice President to Stand As Independent Presidential Candidate

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      January 28, 2004
      Posted to the web January 28, 2004

      Brian Ligomeka
      Blantyre, Malawi

      Embattled Vice President Justin Malewezi is swimming in hot waters of controversies with new reports emerging that he intends to dump the People's Progressive Movement (PPM) and stand as an independent Presidential Candidate.

      But why does Malewezi want to stand as an independent Presidential Candidate and not gun for the coalition's Presidency?

      The new controversy comes after PPM has short listed Aleke Banda as its candidate at the Presidential Primary elections, which Mgwirizano Coalition will hold on February 9 this year.

      Chairman of the Christian Churches Committee on Electoral Process (CCCEP) Anglican Bishop James Tengatenga told The Malawi Standard that Malewezi was not eligible to stand as a Presidential candidate for the Mgwirizano Coalition because he was not elected by his party to be President or Presidential Candidate.

      Bishop Tengatenga stressed: "According to the Memorandum of Understanding they have signed, the contestants for the coalition's presidency would be the candidates who were elected as party Presidents or Presidential Candidates at their conventions."

      This criterion certainly bars Malewezi contesting as a Presidential Candidate for the Alliance because at the recent PPM, convention the party voted Aleke Banda as the party's President and Presidential Candidate. PPM is therefore expected to field Aleke Banda as its candidate, when members of the Mgwirizano Coalition choose its joint candidate within two weeks.

      PPM's recent convention elected Aleke as its President and Presidential Candidate, and his preferred running mate is the party's director of research and marketing Mark Katsonga because the First Vice President Justin Malewezi is barred by the Constitution from running for the third term as a running mate.

      It is reportedly said it is this criterion of only allowing democratically-elected party presidents to vie for the coalition's top leadership, which has infuriated Malewezi to resort of standing as an independent Presidential Candidate.

      What does Malewezi say on this issue?

      "I am not yet decided on the issue. All I would say is let's wait and see how political events unfold in the next few weeks. As you know politics is dynamic, let's just wait and see what happens next," he said in a telephone interview.

      Asked if he decided to stand as an independent candidate because Republican Party President Gwanda Chakuamba is the one tipped to lead Mgwirizano Coalition, Malewezi responded: "Although I did not attend the Coalition's meeting held at Mount Soche Hotel in Blantyre, I think it is premature to say that Mr. Chakuamba is the one who will lead the alliance."

      He added: "The Chairman of the talks Bishop Tengatenga has phoned me telling me that issues of alliance leadership will be re-negotiated because both MCP and NDA are still interested in the coalition. The Chairman says the issue of leadership and how to elect a leader will be re-negotiated. The three parties that have not signed (the Memorandum of Understanding) will have their concerns discussed."

      But sources close to Malewezi from his new residential base, Likuni in Lilongwe however told The Malawi Standard in confidence that the country's embattled Vice President has already held secret meetings with some politicians such as Jimmy Koreia Mpatsa, Anthony Mukumbwa and Harold Williams to help him when he begins to campaign as an independent candidate.

      Mukumbwa and Williams have already resigned from Mafunde Party after their attempts to have Malewezi elected as Mafunde President flopped after George Mnesa beat Malewezi at the party convention.

      "If Malewezi had won the Mafunde Presidency, he would have resigned from PPM where he is serving as Vice President. His victory in Mafunde would have allowed him to contest for the candidacy of Mgwirizano Coalition," says one Mafunde official.

      Malewezi however refuses having canvassed for Mafunde Presidency; but the party's spokesman Redson Munlo insists that Malewezi filed the nomination forms for the position.

      "Politics is a tricky game. Today he is refusing to have aspired for the presidency, yet he signed the nomination form for Mafunde Presidency and campaigned for the position through his stooges. We will one day produce the nomination form he signed when the need arises.

      How can he distance himself from his own political move justified by the fifty delegates who voted for him, and others resigned after his defeat at the polls?" argues Munlo.

      Sources say that Malewezi has finalised all the plans of standing as a Presidential Candidate, becoming a second aspiring candidate to announce that he would stand without party sponsorship.

      "Whether those in PPM like it or not our boss is manoeuvring on how he can become the leader of the coalition although he knows that Aleke Banda is his political roadblock. If he fails to become the leader of the coalition alliance, he will stand as an independent," said one of his aides.

      The aide further revealed that the advantage with Malewezi is that he has the backing of the Chairman of the Christian Churches Committee on Electoral Process (CCCEP) Anglican Bishop Tengatenga, who is fighting to have Malewezi head the opposition coalition.

      "For your own information, our boss (Malewezi) has already offered K1 million to Bishop Tengatenga for his support," claimed the aide. "Don't you know that both Malewezi and Tengatenga being Anglicans they are working closely. In fact it was Tengatenga who lured Malewezi to resign from UDF to join the opposition ranks so that he could lead it?," revealed our source who asked for anonymity for the fear of losing his job as Malewezi's employee.

      But in an interview, Malewezi rubbished reports that he has offered K1 million to Bishop Tengatenga to assist him in his campaign for the Presidency.

      Describing himself as a man of high integrity, Malewezi said he does not believe in money politics. "I don't believe in the politics of dishing out money to individuals.

      There are better ways that we can improve the welfare of our citizens rather than dishing out handouts." Malewezi says although he is an Anglican, he does not use religion as a weapon of defending or boosting his political career.

      When asked the type of political relationship, he maintains with Malewezi, Bishop Tengatenga strongly defended himself: "Malewezi is my parishioner. And as a priest, you can't expect me not to know and interact with members of my own church. But on this whole business of favouring anyone, the question is who is saying it and why are they saying it?"

      Tengatenga says he cannot sink so low to accept bribes from anyone in the name of favouring a politician.

      He also denied claims that some members of the opposition parties have promised him a diplomatic job if they spring into power after May 18 general elections.

      "I have been involved in such talks from early 1990s, from the beginning of change; so to think that now I want something different, it would be unfortunate that somebody can talk so low of me. I am not a politician, I am a church man. Actually, there is nothing I am looking for," said Tengatenga.

      While Bishop Tengatenga denies that he is not offering support to Malewezi, a member of his Anglican Bishop, a Lilongwe based Anglican priest revealed to The Malawi Standard that Tengatenga frequents the embattled Vice President's Likuni residence both during day and night.

      Tengatenga however says as a man of God he allows people from all different political parties to visit him.

      "Just for your own information, recently I received a powerful delegation from National Democratic Alliance who held talks with me. A week later four members of UDF top leadership came to my house at night.

      They asked me why I am supporting the opposition. I told them the truth that I am just facilitating their talks," contends Tengatenga.

      While Tengatenga is reported to have pocketed K1 million from Malewezi, the outspoken General Secretary of Blantyre Synod Reverend Daniel Gunya is alleged to have received K500, 000 from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

      Reverend Daniel Gunya switched off his mobile phone number 08 329 610, when our investigative team asked him if it is true that he received K500, 000 bribe from NDA.

      But NDA organizing secretary Hophman Makande denied that his party offered Reverend Gunya K500, 000.

      "NDA has never offered any member of the clergy some cash, although we work closely with some church leaders on issues of democracy and human rights," said Makande.

      He said people would vote his party into power because of its policies and not because of financial handouts.

      "When we go into power, we have devised strategies that we would use to fight poverty. We would not do it through handouts, therefore there is no way we can bribe a reverend."

      Can members of the clergy be bribed?

      "Oh, yes why not? They are human beings and mind you some enter priesthood or become church ministers by accident," says Reverend Sunday Makuleya of Blantyre CCAP Synod, who is pursuing an Honours Degree in Theology in South Africa.

      Reverend Makuleya says some greedy members of the clergy receive bribes from politicians and even businessmen for their own personal gains.

      "It is such type of religious leaders who become so partisan that their involvement in politics is very questionable."

      Reverend Makuleya however said that there is nothing wrong for church leaders to facilitate opposition talks as long as they are impartial and independent.

      "It is a mistake for any Man of God to favour a particular politician or political party but their mere act of facilitation is acceptable," he said.


      Men Drive HIV/Aids to Greater Heights

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      January 28, 2004
      Posted to the web January 28, 2004

      Wisdom Chimgwede

      To the average Blantyre-based fun-seeker, the name Kamba is all too familiar. This is the spot in town where everything in terms of booze and fun is in great supply. Talk of beer, wine, spirits, the place is awash with all manner of joints where the imbiber will find his favourite brand. Snacks, such as beef, chicken, mang'ina, you name it, they are always in abundant supply.

      Kamba is also famous for its great assortment of music. Balaka reggae, "real" reggae, Kwasakwasa, R and B, it's all there for those who combine a drink and some wriggling of the body.

      Come nighttime, Kamba is bustling with all kinds of noises as fun lovers converge one by one until the "congregation" grows into hundreds.

      But what is it really that attracts so many hundreds to this place which, during daytime, is not particularly attractive? Is it just the food, booze and music?

      To those who dare, one of the greatest attractions of Kamba is the assortment of women that ply the many drinking joints scattered in the township. In fact, as the night wears on, the place has more women than men.

      "I feel great being here," says John (name changed), a Naperi resident who is a regular at the popular drinking joint. He says being in the company of girls, swilling beer while listening to music, is a reflection of being truly alive as a man

      "I always pick one from here," he says nonchalantly, pointing at one of the girls who has just walked in.

      True to form, she is heavily made up and wearing a tight-fitting mini-skirt that leaves precious little to imagination.

      John later walks to the counter and orders five bottles of Carlsberg Green, which he places in one corner where another plump girl is sipping Hunters Gold.

      They smile broadly at each other as the lady taps her feet to the rhythm of a rhumba tune playing loudly.

      After a short conversation, the two get into a white Toyota Corolla and, drive away.

      "This man does this almost every night. Despite the AIDS pandemic, young men of these days are not scared at all," observes one imbiber, who looks in his late 60s, adding: "Men like him are making the AIDS situation worse."

      In fact, some experts say the behaviour of young men has, worsened despite the coming of HIV/AIDS.

      What goes on at Kamba is, in fact, a common sight in most bars, nightclubs and even hotels as long as there is alcohol and women.

      Men just get wild and engage in casual sex without any thought to the devastation of the AIDS epidemic.

      The problem, of course, is that under the influence of alcohol, it is doubtful if such men, and their nocturnal partners, can remember to use "protectors" like the condom.

      Concern for the future of young men is not just a local problem raised by the elderly and conservative in Malawi. Even beyond the country's borders, men appear to be the major catalyst in the spread of AIDS, triggering fears for the future of young men in particular and, mankind at large.

      Health specialists all over the world share the concern.

      An official of the Joint UNAIDS, Call Almedel, once charged that the pandemic is driven by men. He is not alone.

      AIDS and Men, a Panos report states that although women can be more affected by the consequences of HIV, it is the sexual and drug addiction behaviour by the large majority of men, which accentuates the rapid spread of the virus.

      According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more men than women are infected by this mainly sexually transmitted disease the world over.

      Men and AIDS - A Gendered Approach, a year 2000 World AIDS Campaign document agrees that HIV infections and deaths in men outnumber those in women on every continent.

      However, health specialists prophesize that the ratio of men and women living with AIDS will be reversed as time goes on. Not only will most women with the virus fall ill with AIDS, but many will also pass the virus to their newborn babies.

      Latest statistics reveal that 150,000 children are infected by the virus every month and, that one in four adults in Sub-Saharan Africa is HIV positive.

      In Malawi, figures show that over 200 people contract the virus every day and that many newborn babies get the virus from their mothers.

      But former National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) Manager, Dr. Chalamira Nkhoma, thinks both men and women are to blame for the spread of the disease.

      "It's not proper at the mean time to put the blame on one gender because of the fast spreading of the disease everywhere. Both men and women must shoulder the blame for the spread of AIDS," he says.

      However, UNAIDS still feels men are the number one culprits in the spread of the deadly virus because of many factors including the fact that power to determine where, when, and whether sex takes place is largely vested in men, a thing that puts women at a special risk of HIV.

      A recent survey, conducted in neighbouring Tanzania, revealed that many truck drivers visit between 50 and 100 sex workers a year.

      Another survey in Harare, Zimbabwe, showed that more male drug addicts have sex with prostitutes, on average seven times a month.

      Although it is claimed that condoms are used on half of these occasions, PANOS insists that most men have 40 unprotected encounters of sexual intercourse with different partners a year, hence 40 chances of contracting or transmitting the deadly HIV.

      According to UNAIDS, men have more opportunity of contracting or transmitting AIDS because " men usually refuse to protect themselves and their partners."

      "What is perhaps less often recognized is that cultural beliefs and expectations also heighten men's vulnerability," notes UNAIDS Executive Director, Dr. Peter Piot.

      This is perhaps why the Malawi Government earmarked K5.8 million to be used in the campaign on cultural change to help curb the disease for the period 2000 to 2004.

      A NACP document presented during a Resource Mobilisation Meeting in October 2000 accepts that culture has contributed largely to the spread of HIV in Malawi, where a million lives are already at risk and many others have already died from AIDS- related complications.

      UNAIDS states, "All over the world, and on average, men have more sex partners than women." "Moreover, HIV is more easily transmitted sexually from men to women than vice versa," reads the document adding that without men, HIV would have little opportunity to spread.

      Over 70 percent of HIV infections are estimated to occur through sex between men and women the world over.

      A further 10 percent of infections are traced to sexual transmission between men and, in addition, over five percent of infections are estimated to result from the sharing of needles and syringes by people who use needles for injecting drugs, four-fifth of whom are men, according to the UN document.


      Tsvangirai wraps up evidence


      29 January 2004 07:41

      The leader of Zimbabwe's main opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, who is facing charges of plotting to assassinate President Robert Mugabe, on Wednesday wound up his evidence before a Harare High Court hearing his trial.

      The leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) denies charges for which he faces the death sentence if convicted, alleging he was framed by the government in a bid to discredit him ahead of presidential polls in March 2002.

      Recalling three meetings he held with a Canadian political consultant in 2001, Tsvangirai has denied before the court over the past week-and-a-half that he ever conspired to kill Mugabe.

      The state's evidence in based on a secretly recorded and partially audible video tape of a meeting he attended in Montreal with former Israeli intelligence agency and now political consultant Ari Ben Menashe.

      The hearing was adjourned for two weeks to February 11, when the defence and the state attorneys are expected to begin arguing the case.

      Throughout the defence he gave over the past eight days Tsvangirai repeatedly denied he had wanted to kill Mugabe, but said that Ben Menashe, whom his party had hired to promote its image and help raise funds overseas, had duped him and started talking about the murder of Mugabe, a subject not on the agenda.

      "Mr Menashe was very clear about what he wanted. He wanted to confirm certain things so he could make use of them," said Tsvangirai on Friday.

      The MDC accused Ben Menashe of receiving US$100 000 dollars from the Harare government to trap Tsvangirai in a bid to prosecute him.

      Ben Menashe, the state's key witness in the case, took five weeks to testify against Tsvangirai in court last year.

      Tsvangirai also faces a separate treason trial for organising anti-Mugabe protests in 2003. That trial is yet to open.

      During his evidence, the opposition leader, whose party has posed the biggest challenge to Mugabe's government in elections over the past two decades, said he regarded Mugabe as his personal hero at independence.

      He, however, said he later changed his impressions of Mugabe because he had "betrayed a number of objectives" of the revolution, "and that is why we formed the MDC."

      Tsvangirai said he believed the long-time leader had to be involved in efforts to end the southern African country's crises. - Sapa-AFP


      Zimbabwe changes land law


      29 January 2004 07:16

      The parliament of Zimbabwe on Wednesday passed a controversial land law that will allow the government to take land more easily from white farmers, the state news agency Ziana reported.

      Parliament, which is dominated by lawmakers from President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF, passed an amendment to the Land Acquisition Act after intense debate.

      The new law allows the government to acquire white-owned farms after publishing a notice of intention in the Government Gazette, scrapping the old requirement that a preliminary notice of acquisition by the government should be served on the farm owner.

      The Government Gazette is a weekly publication sold by the government printers.

      The bill was adopted despite an adverse report from a special parliamentary legal committee. The committe had argued that some sections of the new law violated the constitution.

      The government argues that the law is aimed at helping it to speedily implement land reforms by taking land from whites and giving it to landless blacks.

      The opposition had argued that acquiring land without taking the trouble to personally locate the landowners would prejudice absentee landlords.

      But Zanu-PF MP and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa Tuesday was emphatic that the new law was targeting landlords who had long migrated overseas and whom the government had failed to locate.

      "No white farmer in Zimbabwe was not aware of the land reform programme and that it was targeting their farms," Chinamasa was quoted as saying by the news agency.

      About 4 500 whites used to own a third of the country's land -- 70% of prime farmland -- before the government launched a fast-track land reform programme in 2000.

      Fewer than 400 white farmers now remain in farming in Zimbabwe and own just three percent of the country's land, according to a government audit of the land reform programme. - Sapa-AFP


      UN says 5m people in Zim may starve


      29 January 2004 10:30

      Nearly two-thirds of Zimbabwe's rural population will need food aid in the coming two months, the United Nations said in its bi-montly humanitarian situation report.

      "Around five-million people, 64% of Zimbabwe's 7,8-million rural people, are estimated to be food insecure and requiring food assistance between January and March 2004," stated the report released late Wednesday.

      According to the Famine Early Warning System, maize supplies in rural areas continue to be "erratic and inadequate".

      "Although a wet spell has recently been experienced in most parts of the country, there are pockets of dry areas in the southern districts of Masvingo, Matebeleland South and parts of Manicaland," the report said.

      "This is a cause for concern since the same districts experienced critical food shortages last year and drought is almost a perennial problem in these areas."

      A late start to the rain season and erratic rains have raised fears of a reduction in agricultural production, the United Nations added.

      The World Food Programme (WFP) said in December last year more than four million people would need its assistance in January.

      In July last year, the agency said it needed $311-million to feed 6,5-million people in southern Africa, adding that two-thirds of that amount would have to spent on Zimbabwe. - Sapa-AFP


      Zimbabwean villagers turn to harvesting ginger

      Stanley Karombo | Harare

      29 January 2004 13:27

      At dawn, Tsitsi Savanhu wakes up her teenage daughter so that they can prepare for the 25km journey to neighbouring Mozambique. Once there, they will dig up as much ginger as possible before rivals descend to challenge their claim to certain areas.

      Such is the daily life for many residents of Nyamaropa village, about 270km east of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare.

      Savanhu began crossing into Mozambique illegally after drought all but destroyed the crops she grew at home. Three months after the official start of Zimbabwe’s rainy season, downfalls in the country have been erratic -– leaving millions in need of food aid.

      But, ginger continues to grow abundantly in the forests of Mozambique. And despite the economic woes affecting Zimbabwe, the plant is in demand locally for its pleasant flavour and perceived healing qualities. Many believe that it is effective in treating constipation and minor abdominal pains.

      To get to Mozambique, the Nyamaropa villagers risk their lives by crossing the crocodile-infested Kairezi River. In addition, there have been clashes with Mozambicans who are angered by what some view as the whole-scale looting of ginger roots.

      Maria Jane, an official based in Chimoio -– capital of the western Mozambican province of Manica -– says, “There is a very high influx of Zimbabweans crossing the border into Mozambique for ginger.”

      “Although the tuber is found in abundance in the country and is far from being depleted, our major concern is environmental conservation. The looters dig for the tuber very carelessly, leaving a trail of permanent land degradation,” she adds.

      Savanhu disagrees: “It is true that our neighbours may now be very worried about our increased presence into their country ... But, we always take measures not to destroy the plants and the environment”.

      The Governor of Manica, Soares Nhaca, has also expressed concern about the number of Zimbabweans entering Mozambique illegally.

      But, another Nyamaropa villager, Memory Kupe, says it simply wouldn’t be possible for her to give up harvesting and selling ginger. The plant has served as her economic lifeline for the past four years, since she lost her job on a farm.

      “I’m getting money for the upkeep of my family from selling the ginger tuber. On good months I can earn as much as 100 000 dollars ($125). Although the money is not enough, it assists (us) to survive.

      When the villagers return home, they sell the ginger locally or at wholesale price to vendors from Harare and the southern city of Bulawayo.

      A 20kg bucket of ginger can fetch up to $10 (about 8 000 Zimbabwean dollars) -– and baskets packed with the roots are a common sight on buses which ply the road between Harare and the eastern border city of Mutare.

      However, a specialist in traditional medicines -– Richard Ngwenya -– says people who use ginger may have been misled about its healing properties, the other benefits of the plant notwithstanding.

      “There is so far no evidence of the tuber treating any ailments while in its raw form, although the majority of our people eat it like that,” he said.

      “Ginger, like any other unprocessed herbs, should be taken with maximum caution to avoid overdoses that could result in serious consequences.” - IPS
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