- Nov 30, 2004Malawi: President And Predecessor Meet to Ease Political Tension
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
November 29, 2004
Posted to the web November 29, 2004
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
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
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 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
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
Mutharika and Muluzi have agreed to continue meeting until the issue is
UK court freezes millions belonging to Chiluba
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
It remains in effect until January 12, when the London High Court will
hear arguments from representatives of the Zambian government and
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
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
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,
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
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.
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
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
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
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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