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  • Christine Chumbler
    Nov 30, 2004
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      Malawi: President And Predecessor Meet to Ease Political Tension

      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

      November 29, 2004
      Posted to the web November 29, 2004

      Lilongwe

      Talks are underway in Malawi aimed at easing tensions between President
      Bingu wa Mutharika and his predecessor, Bakili Muluzi.

      Analysts say one of the main reasons for the divisions in the party has
      been Mutharika's tough stance against graft, which has seen six UDF
      officials arrested on charges of corruption and fraud since he took
      office in May. They note that the UDF has effectively been split into
      two camps: one supportive of Mutharika's anti-corruption drive and the
      other loyal to Muluzi, who retains chairmanship of the party.

      But the talks, which began last week in the capital, Lilongwe, have
      reportedly already hit a snag after a demand from Mutharika to co-chair
      the UDF.

      UDF deputy publicity secretary Mary Kaphwereza-Banda refuted the
      claims, saying the talks had started well, but could not elaborate on
      the issues under discussion.

      "Once everything is through we will let you know - we will not hide
      anything. But what you have to know is that the two sides are in serious
      discussions," she told IRIN.

      However, one observer commented that Mutharika's request to co-chair
      the party would not work, and could possibly heighten tensions among
      ruling party members.

      "In fact, the two [Mutharika and Muluzi] could not co-chair the party -
      this will create more problems within the party. If anything, I would
      suggest that the party should call for a convention for new executive
      members to be elected and let them choose who should lead them," said
      Rafiq Hajat, executive director of the Institute for Policy
      Interaction.

      Boniface Dulani, a political science lecturer at the University of
      Malawi, said that while Mutharika's campaign against high-level graft
      had seriously irked senior UDF stalwarts, who have allegedly accused him
      of "biting the hand that feeds him", the battle in the UDF was about
      control of the party.

      "Muluzi's grip on the UDF has essentially diluted Mutharika's power and
      the new president is well aware of this. It is no secret that Muluzi
      commands great loyalty from the old guard and Mutharika is still
      battling to win support," Dulani said.

      He warned that the UDF would continue to fracture unless the two
      leaders "seriously" negotiated a deal outlining their specific roles in
      the party.

      The gravity of the ongoing political wrangle was exposed last week when
      UDF national executive member Dumbo Lemani claimed that a member of his
      party had rigged the 20 May presidential election in favour of
      Mutharika.

      Vice president Cassim Chilumpha dismissed the allegations, saying the
      president was legally and constitutionally elected.

      But analysts say Lemani's claims were an embarrassment to the party,
      especially when the election results are being challenged in court by
      the opposition.

      Mutharika and Muluzi have agreed to continue meeting until the issue is
      resolved.


      *****

      UK court freezes millions belonging to Chiluba

      Lusaka

      30 November 2004 13:45

      The London High Court has frozen 13 million pounds ($24-million) worth
      of assets held in Britain by former Zambian President Frederick Chiluba
      and four other government officials on trial in Lusaka for theft and
      corruption, the government said on Tuesday.

      The court order on November 24 was issued at the request of the Zambian
      Justice Minister and Attorney General George Kunda, said Mpanzi
      Sinyangwe, a spokesperson for the government's task force on
      corruption.

      It remains in effect until January 12, when the London High Court will
      hear arguments from representatives of the Zambian government and
      Chiluba.

      Sinyangwe did not provide details about the assets that were frozen.
      Chiluba and his lawyers declined to comment on the matter on Tuesday.

      Chiluba, Zambia's first democratically elected president, lead this
      impoverished southern African country for 10 years until he retired in
      January 2002.

      He has pleaded innocent with four other former government officials and
      two businessmen to 169 counts of corruption, abuse of power and theft
      totaling $43-million. He has also pleaded innocent to 65 counts of theft
      totaling about $3,5-million in a separate case.

      President Levy Mwanawasa, Chiluba's hand-picked successor, has pledged
      to fight corruption despite opposition from within his own party, still
      loyal to Chiluba. - Sapa-AP

      *****

      Mozambicans stick to civil war loyalties
      Justin Pearce
      BBC, Maputo


      Twelve years after the end of the civil war, Mozambicans will bid
      farewell to wartime leader Joaquim Chissano in presidential and
      parliamentary elections on 1 and 2 December.

      While some new parties have a chance to get into parliament for the
      first time, the vote is going to be dominated by the two civil war
      adversaries: the governing Frelimo party and the former rebel movement,
      Renamo.

      President Chissano is standing down in compliance with the two-term
      limit that the post-war constitution puts on the presidency.

      Frelimo's candidate is Armando Guebuza, who led Frelimo's negotiating
      team during the Rome peace talks that ended the war.

      Veteran Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama is making his third electoral bid
      for the presidency.

      Of the other six presidential candidates, the one considered to have
      the best chance is Raul Domingos, the former Renamo secretary general
      who is running for the presidency under the banner of his new Peace,
      Democracy and Development Party (PDD).


      Corruption and employment

      Perhaps surprisingly for a party that has been in power since 1975,
      Frelimo's campaign slogan is: "The force for change". It is emphasising
      the progress of recent years, and pledges to continue on the same path.


      Frelimo remains overwhelmingly popular in the south of the country,
      which is the region that has seen the most benefit from post-war
      investment. Even though most people in the south remain poor, mistrust
      of Renamo will ensure Frelimo an easy victory in this region.

      Tackling corruption has been high on most parties' campaign agenda,
      with the recent fourth anniversary of the death of journalist Carlos
      Cardoso drawing particular attention to the issue.

      Cardoso was gunned down in Maputo on 22 November 2000, while
      investigating the theft of millions of dollars during bank
      privatisations.

      Many questions remain unanswered about his death and about the
      corruption that he was investigating, and Cardoso has become something
      of a hero among politically conscious Mozambicans.

      For the poor, unemployment is still the first concern.

      Rapid economic growth, which reached 12% per annum during the 1990s,
      has created many jobs, but, say the trade unions, not enough to
      compensate for the 140,000 jobs lost during the transition from
      socialism to capitalism in the early 1990s.

      In the countryside, peasant farmers are most concerned about the value
      of their products, which has declined in real terms since the
      liberalisation of the market.

      The largely agricultural centre-north region of the country was
      particularly badly hit by cutbacks in the cotton and cashew nut
      industries. It is here that Renamo has its best chance of winning votes,
      though wartime memories of the rebel movement remain bitter, and many
      voters feel that no party truly represents their interests.

      Raul Domingos' Renamo background - plus the fact that he is considered
      a more charismatic figure than Mr Dhlakama - might allow PDD to take
      away some of the traditional Renamo vote.

      His core support will be in his home area, the central Zambezi valley,
      and of the six smaller parties contesting the parliamentary poll, PDD is
      the most likely to break through the 5% barrier needed to send a
      representative to the national assembly.

      Accusations

      The campaign has been calmer than in recent years, though not without
      some violent incidents.

      "Fewer than 10 people" have died and "fewer than 50" have been injured
      during the course of campaigning, according to Felipe Mandlate,
      spokesman for the National Electoral Commission.

      Each of the main parties has accused the others of harassment and/or
      intimidation, but election monitors, both Mozambican and foreign, say
      they cannot see any systematic pattern of abuse.

      The main point of contention between the monitors and the National
      Elections Commission (CNE), which manages the poll, has been the
      question of access to the counting process.

      Mozambique's vote tallying system has been praised as transparent - up
      to a point. Representatives of political parties, local NGOs and foreign
      observer missions are allowed to scrutinise every stage of the counting
      process to the delivery of the local results to the provincial counting
      centres.

      The observers are still worried that there may be potential for
      manipulation in the tallying that is done at provincial and national
      level, and when the CNE makes its judgement on those ballot papers where
      the mark made by the voter is ambiguous, and on the individual polling
      station results sheets which might contain mathematical errors.

      In the 1999 election, the CNE excluded nearly 7% of polling stations
      from the presidential count, and reconsidered 500,000 doubtful ballot
      papers.

      Monitors fear that in the event of a close poll, arbitration on this
      scale by the Frelimo-dominated CNE could affect the final result.

      Former US President Jimmy Carter and former Benin President Nicefore
      Soglo are leading a delegation of observers from the Atlanta-based
      Carter Center, and the European Union - which contributed 13 million
      euros ($17m) to election funds - also has a high-profile delegation in
      the country.

      A coalition called the Electoral Observatory will co-ordinate
      monitoring by Mozambican civil society groups, and intends to carry out
      a parallel vote count at 791 of the 13,000 voting stations.
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