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  • Christine Chumbler
    Jul 21 5:57 AM
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      Jzu Rejects Bingu Offer

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      July 20, 2005
      Posted to the web July 20, 2005

      Pilirani Phiri

      MCP President John Tembo has confirmed that State President Bingu wa Mutharika offered him the position of second Vice President but he flatly turned it down.

      Speaking Saturday during a news conference at his Area 10 house, Tembo said a government entourage, whose members he did not name, came to his house to tell him of the offer.

      He said the group told him Mutharika had sent them to inform him that MCP must approve the national budget in exchange for him being appointed to the position of second Vice President.

      But Tembo said he told the government delegation that he was happy working in the opposition, fighting for the welfare of the people of Malawi, especially those in villages. "I said 'No!' I refused. No, I can't accept to be appointed Second Vice President. I am sure that when you were coming for the press conference some of you were thinking that I had joined government as VP. No, I refused. I cannot be bought." He said he was startled to learn that the delegation wanted him to confirm he would support the budget at his house. "I asked them: Where in the world is a budget passed or supported through politicians coming to the house of somebody like they did? "I told them I could not tell whether my party would support it or not, but I am happy that we eventually supported it because it (the budget) finally adopted our initiative of introducing the universal fertilizer subsidy." Parliament approved the National Budget in principle on Friday after some amendments that included the universal fertilizer subsidy on maize and tobacco that the MCP insisted on as a means of improving food security in the country.

      Asked if the universal subsidy would not bring some complications to government, considering that the IMF and World Bank restrict third world countries from practicing it, Tembo said that was not his problem. "I don't know how government is going to deal with that but my problem is dealing with matters in Malawi, and not with IMF or World Bank, "Let that be a problem with the IMF and World Bank but let it be something important to our people in the villages," he said.

      The MCP President then disclosed that his party supported the approval of the budget so that government in future would not blame the opposition for failing to fulfill their promises if the opposition had rejected it.

      Back on the VP issue, Tembo further said he refused to accept the offer because he has noticed some of his colleagues who were in the opposition but now who are in government are surprisingly very quiet. "When people go there (government) they stop working for the people and become very silent. I don't want to do that," he said.

      Tembo, who is the Leader of Opposition, suggested that if the President were serious in wanting to offer him the position of VP he would have made it very public. "If President Mutharika comes into the open and says there is a problem which he thinks will be solved by me becoming VP, that would be another issue," said Tembo.

      Commenting on the impeachment motion, which the UDF party is set to table in Parliament, Tembo said although the issue has never been on MCP's agenda they would react to it once it is on the floor. "When it comes on to floor, we will weigh the grounds given for impeachment and, if there would be valid grounds we will support it but if not, we will wash our hands off it," he said.

      However, he confirmed that his party is in full support of amending parliamentary standing orders to lay the way for impeachment because, he said, doing so would bring the standing orders in line with the Republic Constitution. "We are supporting the amending of standing orders so as to regularize the procedure," he said.

      In the event that Tembo had accepted the offer he would have lost his parliamentary seat as stipulated in the Republic Constitution in section 80 (7) (e). He would have also risked being stripped of his position as Leader of Opposition in Parliament.

      Lecturer of political science at Chancellor College, Boniface Dulani said Tembo risked losing his position of Leader of Opposition in Parliament if he became second VP. "Just as the name suggests, Leader of Opposition comes from the largest opposition party in Parliament and if he joined government he would automatically have lost his position. "He cannot continue to be Leader of Opposition if he is working in government," said Dulani.

      He said if Tembo had accepted to become VP, the Leader of Opposition would have come from the UDF party, which is an opposition party.

      Even though President Mutharika ascended to the presidency on a UDF ticket, the party is in opposition after Mutharika dumped the party on February 5 this year.

      Parliamentary Standing Orders define Leader of Opposition as, "Leader of the largest party, elected by the parliamentary membership, which is not in government or in coalition with a government party, and who is recognized by the Speaker as such".

      The position of VP has been vacant ever since President Mutharika came into power in May last year. The last holder of the position was Chakufwa Chihana of AFORD who has been the only holder of the post so far. President Mutharika has so far seen no political benefit in appointing anyone to the post.


      Impeachment Shifted to September

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      July 20, 2005
      Posted to the web July 20, 2005

      Levison Mwase

      Parliament, which rises this Friday after discussing the Budget, is expected to reconvene in September to deliberate on the motion to impeach President Bingu wa Mutharika as demanded by the UDF party, The Chronicle has learnt.

      Sources at Parliament said the decision to reconvene Parliament in September came from President Bingu wa Mutharika. "The President told leader of Government business in Parliament Henry Chimunthu Banda to convince his colleagues in the Business Committee of the House to devote the current session entirely to the Budget and have a special session in September to discuss anything else, including the impeachment," said the sources.

      The sources said Mutharika wants the impeachment concluded so that the opposition, led by the UDF, does not use it as a decoy to divert his zero tolerance on corruption and derail his development agenda.

      When the House reconvenes in September the priority, according to the sources, will be to debate a motion Balaka North Member of Parliament (UDF) Lucius Banda moved recently that seeks to include in the Parliamentary Standing Orders procedures for the impeachment of the President or his Vice.

      Once the motion for the procedures for impeachment is passed, another UDF MP Ibrahim Matola will move another motion to indict (formerly charge) the President.

      According to the proposed procedures for impeachment, a motion to indict the President will have to be signed by one third of the MPs and sent to the office of the Speaker of Parliament 7 days before the motion is moved in the House.

      The Notice of Motion for the indictment of the President, according to the procedures, shall be accompanied by a concise statement of the provisions of the Malawi Constitution or written laws of the Republic which the President or his Vice is alleged to have seriously violated.

      The statement shall also contain facts, relied upon to prove the seriousness of the violations.

      According to the Procedures, upon receipt of the motion for indictment, the Speaker of the National Assembly shall issue a writ of summons to the accused President or his Vice citing the serious violations and notifying him to appear before the House.

      The date on which the accused President or his Vice shall appear before the House shall be fixed by the National Assembly where the President shall confirm if he understands the grounds of impeachment against him. "After the motion has been debated the Speaker of the National Assembly shall call upon Members of the National Assembly to vote on the motion.

      The Motion of indictment shall be passed if affirmed by a two thirds vote of the Members of the National Assembly and the committee of the whole house," outlines the procedures.

      After the President or his Vice has been indicted, a full impeachment trial shall commence and shall be presided over by the Chief Justice at a date fixed by the National Assembly. "The period between the indictment of the President or his Vice President on impeachment and trial of an impeachment shall not be less than 14 days," says the procedure provision.

      The accused President or his Vice shall again be called to appear before the House to answer on the grounds of impeachment against him.

      The accused President or his Vice shall also be given time to plead to each of the counts in the articles of impeachment, according to the procedures.

      During the impeachment trail, both sides (the accused and the accusers) shall be accorded an opportunity to bring into the House witnesses.

      The procedures state that after the accused President or his Vice has finished his defense, the House shall debate the motion for impeachment. "The Chief Justice shall thereafter ask the House to vote on the motion to impeach the accused. Conviction on impeachment shall require the affirmative vote of two thirds of the Members of the National Assembly," read the procedures in part.

      Constitutional experts say the whole impeachment process could take more than a year to conclude. Clerk of Parliament Roosevelt Gondwe was not available to confirm the September sitting.

      However, Home Affairs Minister Uladi Mussa told the House last week Parliament would reconvene in September where, among other things, the establishment of the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) would be discussed.


      Party Caucuses Causing Political Instability - MP

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      July 20, 2005
      Posted to the web July 20, 2005

      Gregory Gondwe

      Party caucuses, which different political parties conduct close to parliamentary sittings, are causing the political turmoil currently being experienced in the country. Karonga Nyungwe Member of Parliament, Richard Msowoya, declared this recently.

      He was speaking during a public discussion in Lilongwe last Tuesday conceding that as parliamentarians, they have failed to become agents for political stability in the country because they face severe pressure from party Presidents. "What I am telling you is that there are party caucuses. If you don't understand what party caucuses are, you better send investigators there to find out what actually happens. That is where the MPs get so much pressure from the leaders," he said.

      He said the major pressure point that is preventing MPs from contributing to stability is the party leadership itself. "In this country, probably because of its cultural, many people don't want to speak the truth and, because we continue lying we continue hiding the truth from our leaders and keep on misinforming the people," he said.

      He said the truth is that during caucuses the party would tell the MPs what it intends to do, and because of the Malawi culture, MPs will never talk against the leader or criticise him what is being put forward. "If you stand up against the leader of your party and say, 'but Sir, I am afraid you're wrong', then you are also wrong because the next thing that will happen, unless you are financially okay, you are going to lose your influence, even be left out at the primaries." He added that the country has witnessed this happening before and that the worst that further happens, especially aided by Malawi's first past the post electoral system is that the 'revolting' MPs would have their seats given to somebody else. The party then begins to de-campaign against you using all available resources. "The moment you develop a culture of talking when the boss is talking then you must have a lot of money. You are expected to keep quite when you go there and if it is an open vote you just look at your friends and you will see them [then you deduce] the signs. If leadership says we are going to the east, you face east," said Msowoya sending the gathering into stitches.

      One of the panellists at the public discussions Rafiq Hajat, Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI) said indeed if MPs were elected on a party ticket they have to toe the party line. "If an MP does not toe the party political line, all sorts of things happen; even ejected from the party as we have seen so many times. So if you have all those issues in this boiling pot what do you expect the MP to do?" wondered Hajat.

      He said MPs find it very difficult to differentiate between the party line and in the national interest, "and you have to remember that, by and large, in Malawi party ideologies are very weak most of our parties are personalised, with focus on an individual". "What happens is that we have personal politics coming into play and that is the weakness of our political parties. If we have weak political parties then we have a weak parliament.

      Msowoya said the Godfather type of leadership is not only available in the system of Malawi politics but it would also happen even with the proportional representation system. "I was in Namibia and there is a very able Professor Chitendero who was the Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia but now he has no job.

      Even today I sit, I think; that that intellectual should be somewhere in SADC doing something useful. But why? He differed with the president on the selection of a presidential candidate," he said Adding that now Chitendero is seen as the useless man in town.

      Msowoya therefore said when the country talks of stability the forums like the public discussion organised by the Lilongwe Press Club must make people look at ways of how our party leadership can meet and discuss issues of national importance without an ulterior motive as parliamentarians do.

      He said party leadership is where the problem of political instability is. "Most of the things that make the leadership create problems, is not even poverty, it is just pure greed," he said.


      Lipenga Downplays Parliamentary 'Chaos'

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      July 20, 2005
      Posted to the web July 20, 2005

      Gregory Gondwe

      Information Minister and Phalombe East Member of Parliament Dr. Ken Lipenga has downplayed what he described as 'chaos in the national assembly' describing it as a catalyst for bringing political stability in the country.

      The minister was making his contribution last Tuesday at a public discussion on the role of parliamentarians in bringing political stability in the country. The debate was organised by the Lilongwe Press Club. "When I saw the title of the discussion, I began to think of what people tend to think as instability. Sometimes when we see some temporary chaos we quickly jump to conclusions that there is instability," said Lipenga.

      He went on to add that despite the temporary quarrels that people hear in parliament, the MPs have actually a high degree of camaraderie in that house because they look and laugh at each other from time to time. "It is very good," he said, "in fact, I put it to you ladies and gentlemen that parliament is in fact the most important institute or agency of stability because that is where people of different opinions gather. By listening to each other they tend to accommodate each other's views and in the process stability is created," he declared.

      Lipenga said silence in itself is not an indication of stability. "So the temporary chaos that you see from time to time does not mean that there is instability." "We are actually friends, maybe a similar thing ought to be done with our (political) leaders, he suggested adding: "Maybe they also should be locked up in a building from time to time to have some dialogue because it is working for us as parliamentarians." People's Progressive Movement President who was one of the panellists, Aleke Banda said that despite what people see on television and read in the newspapers there is order in the seeming disorder in the house.

      Lipenga said he totally agreed with Banda in that there is a great degree of camaraderie in the house and that it extends even during coffee breaks where they can exchange notes and make fun at each other.

      He said much as parliament is an agent of the people the media as well are also agents of stability because they bring out certain things that jolt the system for a while and eventually they contribute to stability. "It is my opinion that the Lilongwe Press Club is an agent for stability because it gives an opportunity to people of various views to meet and discuss those views," he said.

      In the same vein Lipenga told the debate that there was some indication that the public seems to be demanding that parliament pass the budget without discussing it. "Actually I don't think that's what the public is demanding. The public is simply demanding a sense of priority," observed Lipenga.

      He said on its side Government would not be happy if the budget were to be passed without discussion and debate. "It would be important that we discuss and the various views, which must be taken into consider-ation," observing that the debate and discussion are making a difference. "I cite, for instance the discussions that has been taking place at an individual level between the Minister of Finance and the right honourable Leader of Opposition Hon. J.Z.U. Tembo," he said. "But you find that criticism of the budget does not always come form the opposition. This will also come from members who support government," he said suggesting that this is normal and does not add to instability.


      'Civic Education Could Ease Political Instability'

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      July 20, 2005
      Posted to the web July 20, 2005


      By educating Malawians on democracy and governance issues the country could attain political stability because an educated nation would hold their politicians accountable thereby creating more political stability, Nkhatabay South MP, Aleke Banda has said.

      Banda, who is also President for opposition People's Progressive Movement (PPM) party, was speaking last week in Lilongwe at a Lilongwe Press Club (LPC) debate on The Role of MPs in Promoting Political Stability where he was Guest Speaker, alongside Rafik Hajat, Executive Director of Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI).

      Banda said if MPs could only fight for programmes that would ensure civic education, Malawi would maintain political stability because, he said, an educated and understanding nation is capable of initiating political checks and balances, which in turn would create political stability in the nation.

      He also said MPs should push for an equitable share of developmental activities from government so that their constituents should not react to the inequitable distribution of government developmental projects. "In the past we have been hearing about 'support government so that you get development'. This leads to some people being favoured and others being disgruntled. This inevitably leads to political instability," said Banda adding: "This should also apply to the use of state resources. People have, for a long time been reacting to government, accusing it of using and abusing state resources to fulfil the wishes of their parties, "What does government expect the opposition to feel or think? These are things that MPs can debate and ensure that they do not happen so that there is political stability in the country." He then said MPs can also work for political stability by ensuring that people appointed to high office are competent prior to ratification by Parliament.

      He also said that through assets declaration law, MPs must put in place systems to monitor the income and earning base of key politicians in the country. "Through this, wealth would not be accumulated wrongly making people want to cling to positions and therefore create political instability for the nation," he said.

      Commenting on the same topic Minister of Information Ken Lipenga, who participated in the debate, said political chaos should not always be construed as a sign of political instability in a country. "Chaos should not always be construed as a sign of political instability. It is silence that sometimes can be a sign that not all is well politically in country. So sometimes political differences should not always be seen as political instability, in fact sometimes chaos creates stability," Lipenga said.

      Several participants at the debate concurred that MPs, politicians, civil society players, and the media must come together to ensure that political stability reigns in the country.

      Malawi has been engulfed in political tensions ever since President Bingu wa Mutharika quit the UDF, the party that put him into power.

      More tension was created when he declared and launched his own Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), a move that has been condemned by many in the country.

      Reaction from Parliament and the opposition has been swift and acrimonious with attempts being made to impeach President Mutharika.

      Impeachment debate in the House was largely blamed for the death of late Rodwell Munyenyembe, Speaker of Parliament who collapsed in the House and died a few days later at Milpark Hospital in South Africa.

      The Lilongwe Press Club has been hosting numerous debates on topical subjects that have generated a lot of interest from society.

      The debates are supported with the kind assistance of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).


      Minister Advocates for Vernacular Parliament

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      July 20, 2005
      Posted to the web July 20, 2005

      Gregory Gondwe

      Information Minister Ken Lipenga has indicated that he would support the use of local language as a medium of communication in the legislative assembly, saying that the continued use of English, which is the colonial language, was an embarrassment.

      "I think the day will come, by the way, when we will move on and use our own language. I think there is a case to be made for that. It is humiliating to have to be using the language of our colonial masters," bemoaned Lipenga. "We still do use it, much to our embarrassment. The levels of competence in this 'foreign' language obviously varies from individual to individual and we noticed that there are certain English words that are grossly mispronounced in the national assembly," he said.

      But Lipenga said some of those who mispronounce those words actually make the most important contributions to the debate and that this therefore, should not surprise anybody because English is not a natural language for Malawi.

      Lipenga said that he observed with one of his friends that MPs, despite the assertions that they fight so much in the national assembly, learn from each other so much and in this learning, they also learn the wrong way of speaking English. "What we found interesting is that over the period of time some new Members of Parliament because look up to the more experienced members and tend to learn the mispronunciations as well and begin to speak like them," he observed.

      He said that this is interesting because it indicates that, indeed members of parliament do learn from each other even if sometimes they learn the wrong things in the process.

      Lipenga said people mispronounce certain words because they look up to certain people that they respect and then adopt those mispronunciations. He insisted that articulation in the local language would be the best lingua franca for Parliament.


      Abuse of Minors On the Increase

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      July 20, 2005
      Posted to the web July 20, 2005

      Chikondi Chiyembekeza

      Many under-age children, especially destitute boys in the Capital, Lilongwe are being sexually abused after being coerced by monetary favours and job opportunities, The Chronicle has established.

      Most of the culprits (child abusers) are said to be foreigners, who dupe the minors by offering them household chores at their residences.

      Others, it has been learnt, pick up these unsuspecting destitutes at night from under the bridges within the capital where they sleep.

      They are shown huge sums of money, which they (the abusers) promise to give them after providing sexual services.

      However, in most cases at the end of it all, the unsuspecting children do not get the money they were promised.

      According to two minors, both under 12 years old, who The Chronicle bumped into last week, they have managed to escape after undergoing the ordeal for more than eight months now at a certain posh residence in Lilongwe. "I have now escaped the ordeal. Our boss cheated us by offering us work at his residence when in actual fact he wanted to abuse us sexually" said one boy (name known but withheld), while sobbing.

      He added that they were sexually abused almost on a daily basis and they had to flee to escape the ordeal. "It was a painful experience for us," added one, in a rather low voice, his face clearly showing the signs of pain he has gone through.

      The Chronicle has however, established that the trend (of abusing the minors sexually) is on the increase but that it is proving difficult to track down the culprits, as the abuse is carried out in the confines of their (abusers) houses. "The picking up of these minors is mostly done in the middle of the night and it is difficult to know where they are taken to," said one destitute man who identified himself as Yonasi Lumero.

      He told The Chronicle that he has been in the streets for close to five years and has seen whatever happens at night to some of his fellow destitutes who are young.

      Most of the minors who are exposed to the abuse are orphans who have fled their homes and try to earn a living in town by begging.

      The Ministry of Gender, Child Welfare and Community Services, is tasked with the responsibility of looking after the welfare of children.

      However, asked to elaborate on how the Ministry helps these destitute who are being subjected to such kind of sexual abuse, the Minister responsible Joyce Banda said last Wednesday that she has not yet received such reports but said her ministry would investigate. "I will have to find out from my ministry on the issue and to investigate if indeed such things are happening because that is a police case," said Banda, sounding concerned with the issue.

      Cases of abuse of minors are not only isolated to boys but to young girls as well.

      Recently, it was revealed that a certain businessman in Lilongwe is operating brothels where girls as young as 11 years are involved in prostitution.

      The Ministry of Gender promised to investigate and bring the culprits to book but up to now nobody has been apprehended.


      Is this just another political gimmick?
      The Zimbabwean government has started moving some former slum dwellers left homeless by a controversial demolition campaign back to what remains of their destroyed shacks, state television reported on Wednesday.

      "What is happening is that those from Hatcliffe Extension who have ... lease agreements are being asked to return to their old stands," said police inspector Garikai Marange, referring to a once densely populated township.

      Marange, who is in charge of a transit camp on the outskirts of the capital Harare, added: "About 100 people have left the camp so far. We have between 200 and 300 people and they are very happy to go back to their stands."

      Human rights lawyers said 2 000 families were thrown out of their makeshift homes in Hatcliffe Extension, a slum 10km west of Harare when the government launched its controversial clean up campaign in May.

      Some of them were moved to the settlement in the early 1990s after they were removed from the streets of Harare in a clean up campaign on the eve of a visit by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II.

      High Court Judge Tedius Karwi dismissed an application in May by 2 000 families removed from Hatcliffe Extension, who wanted their eviction to be declared illegal.

      "It's not clear whether they are going to stay or if this is just another political gimmick," said Otto Saki of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

      "The other question is what is the government going to do about shelter and property they destroyed and the families who have moved to their rural homes. Are they going to compensate everyone affected?" - Sapa-AFP


      Zimbabwe halts flights over fuel

      A shortage of fuel has forced Zimbabwe's national airline to cancel some of its domestic and international flights, state media reports.
      Two weeks ago, two Air Zimbabwe planes were grounded because of a shortage of spare parts, the official Herald newspaper reports.

      There have been extreme fuel shortages in Zimbabwe for months, with petrol stations remaining dry for weeks.

      Last week, Zimbabwe requested emergency economic help from South Africa.

      Zimbabwe has had a shortfall of foreign currency for several years and has been struggling to pay for imports, such as fuel.


      On Wednesday, Air Zimbabwe confirmed it was forced to suspend some of its flights because of the fuel shortages.

      "We did not have our full operation because we didn't have sufficient fuel," spokesman David Mwenga told the Herald.

      "Some flights were suspended while some are operational as usual," he added without giving further details.

      The Herald quoted an official at the national carrier as saying the cancelled flights included those to the resort town of Victoria Falls, South Africa and London.

      A London-bound flight was delayed on Wednesday for nearly seven hours as "officials ran around to find the scarce commodity", the paper said.
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