- Apr 3, 2006Bingu courts opposition
by George Ntonya, 03 April 2006 - 05:39:04
President Bingu wa Mutharika on Saturday met leaders of opposition parties to discuss issues that have been threatening the country's hard-won democracy, highly placed sources have said.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president John Tembo, who is also leader of opposition in Parliament, Speaker of Parliament Louis Chimango, Aford czar Chakufwa Chihana and UDF leader in the House George Nga Mtafu are among the people that spent about three hours at the New State House with Mutharika, a day after the Law Commission hosted a four-day conference to discuss areas in the Constitution that require refinement.
"President Bingu wa Mutharika is the one who called for the meeting on Saturday," said a source who spoke on condition of strict anonymity. "Ask the government for further details."
Leader of government business in Parliament Henry Chimunthu Banda confirmed the meeting took place but refused to give more details.
"It was just a brainstorming meeting as we prepare for the opening of Parliament," Chimunthu Banda said in a telephone interview on Sunday.
"The main purpose was to promote unity and harmony between the Executive and the Legislature, but there was nobody appointed to divulge the information," he said when asked to shed more light.
Sources said a government of national unity and the need for Parliament to support government business were some of the issues Mutharika wanted the meeting to discuss.
Some of the delegates to the constitutional conference said they saw Chimunthu Banda pick up Mtafu from Capital Hotel in a ministerial Mercedez Benz and drove towards the New State House.
In a separate telephone interview Mtafu confirmed attending the meeting, but said "it's the host who is supposed to give out information."
Attempts to get a comment from Tembo were unsuccessful because when contacted for the first time, he said he was not ready for an interview.
"Call me at three o'clock," he said and when called again he asked to call back.
Mutharika has not enjoyed support from the opposition, particularly UDF, since he resigned from the party and formed his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
The UDF, which campaigned vigorously for him to win the 2004 general elections, has been trying to woe support from MCP to have Mutharika impeached so that a National Governing Council can be instituted to run the affairs of the country.
Both UDF and MCP also accuse Mutharika of buying their MPs to strengthen the position of the government in Parliament.
Public Affairs Committee (Pac), a grouping of former African leaders and others have tried in vain to bring together Mutharika and the opposition for negotiations.
It is not clear what magic the President used to have the opposition for the Saturday meeting, held three days after he had asked delegates to the constitutional conference to scrap off Section 65 of the constitution which gives the Speaker powers to declare vacant a seat of any MP who goes to Parliament on a party ticket but resigns to join another party also represented in the House.
The President said during the opening of the conference that Section 65 contradicts the same Constitution which allows freedom of association.
Mutharika is expected to open a four-week sitting of Parliament on Tuesday.
Govt shouldn't segregate against MPs, says Lukwa
by George Ntonya, 03 April 2006 - 06:27:00
Senior Chief Lukwa of Kasungu has urged members of Parliament to find ways of ensuring that government money for development projects trickles down to constituencies regardless of political parties the MPs belong.
The Chief was speaking in an interview on the sidelines of a national constitutional review conference which ended on Friday in Lilongwe.
"Money for development should not only go to constituencies whose MPs come from the ruling party. This has been the case in the past and should not be allowed to continue," he said adding that it is unfortunate that some leaders continue to tell political meetings that only MPs who support the party in government will receive money for development in their constituencies.
The chief said that the MPs should fight for effective Constituency Development Fund whose allocation should be included in the national budget but the funds should go straight to the constituency with the MP as patron of a committee responsible the development projects.
"We don't want MPs to be giving out money for coffins or the sick. That is not their job. They should be making policies and laws in Parliament and ensure that people at the constituency level are funded to implement their development projects," he said.
Other delegates to the conference expressed disappointment that only MPs on the government side benefit quite a lot in terms of development projects.
In a related issue, MCP MP for Lilongwe City south west constituency Nancy Tembo said that Parliament is denied highly educated Malawians from the civil service because of the requirement that they resign before they can contest in parliamentary elections.
She suggested that the laws be amended to allow civil servants to participate in such elections and resign only when they get elected into the House.
She said that only those civil servants that contest on the ruling party's ticket are not forced to resign and their employment is guaranteed when they flop in the elections.
"Many civil servants who can make better MPs do not contest in elections because they fear that if they resign from the civil service and lose the elections they will have nothing to fall back on. This is robbing Malawi of great leaders," she said.
Impeachment through referendum*Chiefs
by Bright Sonani, 03 April 2006 - 05:53:10
Traditional leaders in the country have said impeachment of the President should not be handled only by Parliament but through a referendum.
They have also demanded that witchcraft, which is currently not recognized in the laws of Malawi, should be instituted into the Constitution since the current situation makes it difficult for the chiefs as well as the legal system to handle such matters.
Making a presentation during the Constitutional Review Conference on Friday in Lilongwe, the chiefs also commented on the current politically burning issues such as the impeachment of the president, Section 65 of crossing the floor in Parliament, the senate and the recall provision.
T/A Sibande in his submission said the chiefs were not in support of the removal of Section 65 because he said that would encourage corruption and buying of MPs and mostly it would benefit ruling parties since they have the money.
He however said the Speaker's decision on the provision should be subject to scrutiny by the whole House.
On impeachment Sibande said: "MPs on their own should not have powers to impeach a president unless a referendum is done on the removal of the president."
Sibande also said the chiefs were in support of the death penalty.
The chiefs also said they were in support of the recall provision.
T/A Lundu of Blantyre said the Constitution should cover magic and witchcraft since it was no longer a secret that the practice was rampant in the country.
"An example is what happened recently at Chichiri Prison where a prisoner is said to have turned himself into different animals, this shows that there is indeed witchcraft in the country. The British when framing the first Constitution did not think about that because they did not believe that there was witchcraft but as Malawians we are all aware that witchcraft and magic is there," he said.
Lundu said the absence of witchcraft in the laws of the country puts traditional leaders in a fix when handling such matters.
T/A Kabunduli, in his comment on the presentation explained that witchcraft was in two forms; the evil one where people do evil against each other or kill each other while he said there was another witchcraft where a person wants to enrich himself or get luck.
"We just take all this as witchcraft and the Constitution should get all these into consideration," added Kabunduli.
The chiefs, who in their representation were represented by T/A Lundu, T/A Gomani and T/A Sibande also said they would propose changes to the current marriage laws that among several others marriage by repute or cohabiting should be recognised.
"These marriages should be fully recognised. After three years those in such marriages should register and be recognised," said T/A Lundu.
T/A Gomani said also the marriage age should be set at 18 years.
Most of the conference participants agreed that marriage by repute or cohabitation should be entrenched in the Constitution to protect women and children who the participants say could live with a husband or father for several years only to lose everything after his death.
"We want an MP to be in office for five years but at the same time we want development in our areas. Some MPs bring development while others do not perform so we are saying those who do not perform should go because we don't want for five years the areas to remain undeveloped," said T/A Gomani.
On women in Parliament Gomani said the chiefs support a proposal to increase the number of women in the House but said the onus was on women themselves to realise that goal.
MCP MPs gang up against Majoni
by Joseph Langa, 03 April 2006 - 05:51:53
Several Malawi Congress Party (MCP) MPs have ganged up to remove the party's president John Tembo close ally Betson Majoni as regional chairman for the Centre and chief whip in Parliament. The party meet for a caucus at Tembo's Area 10 house in Lilongwe today (Monday).
The MPs have also agreed to tell Tembo they don't want caucuses to be conducted at his house but at the party's national headquarters opposite Reserve Bank in City Centre.
The MPs, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they will ask Majoni to resign from the positions, claiming he has failed.
One MP said they are not happy because Majoni has imposed shadow MPs in most constituencies in the Central Region which is not happening in other regions.
The MPs also accused Majoni of not holding a regional conference and rallies in his area of jurisdiction and accused him of only going to districts when Tembo is addressing a meeting or when he wants to castigate them (MPs).
Asked why they also want to remove him as chief whip, the MCP law makers said Majoni is not active in representing them in Parliament especially on the appointment of committees which they said is solely handled by Tembo.
The MPs said they are also not happy because Majoni is flouting the party's constitution by signing party cheques.
The party's deputy Publicity Secretary Bintony Kutsaira confirmed that Majoni is one of the signatories to the cheques. He also confirmed that a regional chairman is not supposed to be a signatory of the party's accounts saying the constitution mandates the president, treasurer, secretary general and their deputies.
But Kutsaira said he is not aware of a plot to remove Majoni. When asked whether MPs have powers to remove a regional chairman, he said the constitution is silent on it.
"Those might be ideas of individual members of Parliament. We are going to see," said Kutsaira.
Kutsaira also confirmed that some MPs have complained that some people are calling themselves shadow parliamentarian in their constituencies.
When asked to comment on the plot to remove him Majoni said: "That is welcome, tell them. It's all right, don't worry. That's welcome".
Majoni denied that he has imposed shadow MPs in some constituencies and called it a "DPP style of propaganda".
He said the MPs involved are not real MCP MPs but those working for the DPP to confuse MCP and added he will face them today.
Tembo refused to comment on the issues.
Kaliati, Lodge owner in verbal brawl
by Amos Gumulira, 03 April 2006 - 05:55:30
Tourism and Information Minister Patricia Kaliati on Friday engaged in a bitter verbal brawl with the owner of Kiboko Safari Lodge who resisted advice to improve her place after the Minister's surprise visit to the premises in Lilongwe's Area 3.
The verbal brawl forced Kaliati to eventually close the place.
The minister said the lodge had dirty beddings and untidy surrounding which made the place "not fit to accommodate tourists."
But her attempts to suggest improvements met stiff resistance from Morga Kremer who owns the lodge with her husband, Pim Kremer.
"We are closing this lodge. Nobody should be found here until we come on Tuesday (tomorrow) to see if you have improved on the areas we have told you to work on," said the visibly provoked Kaliati.
But the Kremer, who was not around when the minister was inspecting the premises, did not take it well.
"I will go back to Holland if you don't mind," she shouted, only to have a shoot back of "We don't care," from Kaliati.
The tour, which also took the minister to Ufulu Lodge, Capital Hotel, Mafumu lodge, Nelly's Lodge and Cresta Hotel, turned into drama as soon as the entourage arrived at Kiboko Safari Lodge.
The Minister's mini convoy was welcomed by two big dogs which came sniffing at the minister's Mercedez Benz and later followed the people as they walked into the lodge.
The receptionist Besta Mkhaya was at pains to answer the minister's questions as she seemed to have been taken by surprise with the visit.
Kaliati then demanded to see the rooms, where she noted that the beddings were old and some of them worn out.
She also visited the toilets which were clean but visitors had to walk about 20 or so metres from the rooms to get to the toilets.
Then Kaliati met Kremer and told her to have some things, especially beddings replaced.
"The blankets need to be replaced and you have to improve on this by Monday," said Kaliati.
But Kremer did not take it well.
"What's wrong with the sheets, have you seen all travel magazines to see how people like this place," she retorted.
"You don't want to listen. Lets go to the rooms and see if the blankets are good," ordered Kaliati.
Kremer accused the minister of focusing only on the negative.
"Oh! If it is negative what are you going to do to make sure that you make it positive. Or is it that when we go to your house we will find your bedroom looking like this? These are people who use these beddings not dogs," said Kaliati.
She said that the people who come to the lodge have to sleep in clean good beddings despite the fact that some of them come with their sleeping bags.
But the owner of the lodge continued to answer aggressively to what the minister was telling her on why the ministry insists that hotels and lodges should offer good accommodation services
Kaliati described Kremer as uncooperative and ordered Director of Tourism, Isaac Msiska, to close the lodge until Tuesday when they would go again to see if the improvements have been made.
She said the tour was intended to encourage hotels and lodges continue the good work they were doing or to advise those whose services were not up to the ministry's standards to improve.
During similar visits, the ministry has also closed Lilongwe City Assembly Resthouse, Ambassador Resthouse and Bwaila lodge in Lilongwe, Jombo and Mlambe resthouses in Mzuzu.
No Satanism here-Headmistress
by Emmanuel Muwamba, 02 April 2006 - 08:08:09
A form four student at Lilongwe Girls' Secondary School abandoned classes recently, claiming she was under constant attack from satanists. The school headmistress, however, has brushed away the girl's claims saying no one should take her seriously.
The revelations come hot on the heels of similar incidents reported from other schools such as Ekwendeni Girls this week, Neno and Blantyre secondary schools in the past.
The girl (name withheld) said she feared for her life due to nightmares and hallucinations she has experienced twice while on the school campus. Right now she is in Zomba where Nation on Sunday caught up with her at the parents home.
Her situation is said to have improved compared to the time she reached home.
Explaining her ordeal, the girl said she got the shock of her life when in February and March this year she woke up only to find her body riddled with cuts and blood oozing from them.
"I reported the matter to school authorities. They only advised me to go home and not reveal what I went through to anyone. I am not the only one. Some other girls have also had similar experiences and been advised to keep silent," she alleged.
Her face, parts of the hands and legs show traces of scratches or scars from wounds that have healed. Speaking in the presence of her mother and sister, she alleged that a human-like creature appears in classrooms at night when the girls are studying.
"The school is encompassed in an atmosphere of fear but no-one, including the school authorities, want to talk about these issues," she claimed like one resigned to her fate.
In an attempt to exorcise the evil spirits that have apparently been haunting her, she said on two occasions a sheikh prayed for her.
One student when contacted for her views, hesitated for a while and then said: "I cant say anything on that. Just talk to others."
The school acting head, Grace Mulima, dismissed the claims on Thursday saying these were words that cannot be taken seriously. "We have no reports on this issue," she said.
Mulima insisted that such remarks were calculated to create fear by "dropouts who will go to anything to justify their cause."
Her response sounded like that of the acting headmistress of Ekwendeni, Helen Scott who, faced with a similar situation affecting several students, was quoted as alleging that the girls simply wanted "to go home and abort pregnancies."
Blantyre CCAP Synod Education Coordinator Richard Mpaso said experiences the girls at Lilongwe were reportedly going through were similar to those that Neno Girls' Secondary School students went through recently.
But he added that the situation elsewhere could be extreme. For instance at Neno some of the girls revealed that they were witches and were prayed for after this revelation.
Reverend Father Kambalazaza of Charismatic Renewal Ministries said the strange stories were an indication of the presence of satanism at campuses.
"What is happening to these schools shows that God is speaking to us now. There is need to pray hard and seek him more than we did ever before.
"All over the world boarding schools are places Satan frequents to coax pupils into his worship or haunt and harass them. What we need is to pray for deliverance and exorcise these places of the evil spirits," he said.
by Edwin Nyirongo, 02 April 2006 - 07:47:43
One of the suspects in the Mzuzu University K2.5 million scam, Professor Dan Chimwenje is dead.
Chimwenje, who was Mzuzu University Deputy Vice Chancellor, died Friday night at Avenue Clinic in Harare, Zimbabwe after staying in a coma for some time.
Assistant Registrar of the university Yonam Ngwira confirmed the death in an interview Saturday.
"Professor Chimwenje is indeed dead. He died yesterday night just before 9 o'clock in the evening," he said.
Ngwira said little information had come from Zimbabwe and that they would release more after they get it. He however said they were trying to contact his relatives and other university officials, especially vice chancellor professor Peter Mwanza.
Asked what he was suffering from, the Assistant Registrar said he was outside the country and could not have more details. He however admitted that there had been a lot of speculation regarding Chimwenje's illness.
Press reports had indicated that the Deputy Vice Chancellor took poison after learning that he was wanted by the police in connection with the K2.5 million missing money.
"Chimwenje, fearing the embarrassment that would meet him on arrival back home from Zimbabwe where he had gone on an official trip resorted to taking poison and is on a life supporting machine," a university official disclosed last week on condition of anonymity.
Northern Region Police public relations officer John Namalenga confirmed Saturday that Chimwenje was wanted by police in connection with the missing money.
"Chimwenje was one of the signatories to the SSTIP account. His fellow suspects have paid back K400, 000.00 which they say was his share," he said.
Last week the university wrote two letters informing its staff that Chimwenje was sick in Zimbabwe and asking them to pray for his quick recovery.
Zambian president in London for treatment
03 April 2006 01:01
Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa was on Monday being treated in a hospital in London after falling ill at the start of the weekend, news reports said on Monday.
Mwanawasa became ill on Friday in Zambia and had to be evacuated to London for treatment, the state-owned Times of Zambia and Zambia Daily Mail reported on Monday.
The 57-year-old had been forced to cut short his election campaign to Zambia's northern copper-belt province.
Mwanawasa was said to not be feeling well and was due to for a routine medical check-up.
He was later reported to have developed uncontrollably high blood pressure upon receiving news that the condition of his hospitalised sister had worsened and she would undergo major surgery.
Chief government spokesperson Vernon Mwaanga was quoted as saying Mwanawasa had been admitted to London hospital and that his condition was stable.
Mwaanga said there should not be any alarm as Mwanawasa was undergoing medical procedures and would return home soon. -- Sapa-DPA
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