- Insecurity Forces Malawians to Acquire Guns
Blantyre, Malawi (PANA) (Panafrican News Agency, January 22, 2000) - An
average of two Malawians are everyday approaching police stations across the
country seeking permits to carry fire- arms for self-defence.
This is in the wake of an increase in incidents of armed robberies in which
several people have lost their lives or property or both almost on a daily basis.
Police spokesman Oliver Soko described the increase in the number of people
seeking permits to carry fire-arms as unprecedented. He, however, said the
police will not issue the permits wholesale.
"It is not automatic that when you apply for a firearm permit you will get one," he
Soko said for one to be granted a permit one has to have a clean criminal record
and should be of stable mental health otherwise, he said, instead of being a
solution to armed banditry an influx of legal fire-arms would only aggravate an
already volatile situation.
But Malawians feel the police need to lax their conditions of issuing permits for
firearms since it is the police themselves who are failing to put the situation under
"Nowadays it's not a source of joy to acquire expensive things for yourself. It's a
quick one way ticket to the grave," said one Blantyre resident whose house was
robbed by more than 10 armed robbers recently.
Before the traumatic ordeal was over he had lost a brand new stereo music
system, a television decoder and several pints of blood.
The resident said Malawians need to be allowed to carry fire arms because,
according to him, with citizens armed, robbers will be meeting their match during
their nocturnal exploits.
While the to-be-armed or not-to-be-armed debate among Malawians is going
on, another element blamed for the escalation of crime in Malawi is the lax legal
system which allows everyone, including known hard-core criminals, to apply
and get bail within 48 hours of arrest.
President Bakili Muluzi, who once denied the country had no insecurity
problems soon after taking over government, has also decried the bail conditions
and appointed a special law commission on criminal justice to examine laws
guiding the granting of bail.
The special commission, chaired by Supreme Court judge Leonard Unyolo has
since published its recommendations. Among the recommendations, the special
commission says the police, magistrates and judges should first consider the
likelihood of an accused from committing further crimes or jumping bail before
"The police should also take into account the nature and seriousness of an
offence before granting bail," reads the report.
Justice Minister and Attorney General Peter Fachi said he will prepare a bill
proposing changes to the bail conditions for parliament to consider before it is
put into law.
Muluzi Decries Malawi, South Africa Trade Imbalance
Blantyre, Malawi (PANA) (Panafrican News Agency, January 22, 2000) -
President Bakili Muluzi of Malawi has said he has discussed with his South
African counterpart Thambo Mbeki on ways to correct the trade imbalance
which exists between the two countries.
Muluzi said he met Mbeki during an extra-ordinary meeting of heads of states
from the Southern African Development Community who met in Maputo a week
"There is a one to six trade imbalance in favour of South Africa," he told
journalists on arrival from the Gabonese capital, Libreville, where he attended
the extra-ordinary African heads of state economic summit organised by the
Muluzi said Mbeki agreed for South African and Malawian trade officials to hold
meetings on the issue.
He, however, said Malawian business should gear up for the competition posed
by liberalised economies.
He said leaders in both SADC and the Common Market for the Eastern and
Southern Africa will meet to discuss possible effects of the zero tariffs proposed
by the two economic blocs.
On the on-going row over the textile agreement between Malawi and South
Africa, Muluzi said he impressed upon Mbeki to relax the condition Pretoria
imposed in the trade since "over 10,000 textile workers will be affected by the
Malawi Campaign to deal with inefficient legislators on
Africanews News & Views
January 21, 2000
by Brian Ligomeka
Nairobi - Legislators who do not meet the expectations of the electorate risk being
recalled if a campaign initiated by Malawi's Church of Central Africa Presbyterian
bears fruits. The Church says it will vigorously lobby for the re-introduction of the
constitutional provision which empowers constituents to recall their MPs who do
Charles Masinga, a party branch chairman and staunch supporter of Malawi's
ruling party, the United Democratic Front in Mulanje West constituency is a
frustrated person. "Our member of parliament is my source of frustration. Since we
voted her into power, she has never set her foot in this village. All the promises she
made in the run up to parliamentary general elections are just a heap of lies. She
is just dead-wood," Masinga complains. He is one of the thousands of constituents
in Mulanje West who complain that their parliamentary representative seems
Despite the outcry of the constituents, there is nothing they can do to recall their
parliamentarian. Reason: Section 64 of the Malawi Constitution which empowered
the constituents to recall their member of parliament when he fails to deliver was
repealed from the Constitution in 1995. But five years after the section was
scrapped by Parliament, legislators who do not live to the expectations of their
constituents risk being recalled if a campaign initiated by Malawi's second largest
denominational group, Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) bear fruits.
The Livingstonia Synod of the CCAP says it will vigorously lobby for the
re-introduction of the constitutional provision which empowers constituents to recall
Synod General Secretary Overtone Mazunda says the scrapping in 1995 of
Section 65 of the legislation of the Supreme Laws was unjustified. "When the
current constitution was being formulated, we were consulted. But when Section
64 of the Constitution was being repealed, we were never consulted. As a church
we feel cheated," says Mazunda. Mazunda explains that while parliament can
repeal some clauses of the constitution, there are some sections which need
public consultations. "Section 64 gave powers to the electorate to re-call their MP
who might be inefficient. That was what the general public agreed when formulating
the constitution. However, parliamentarians themselves repealed the section to
their advantage, robbing the electorate their powers, without consulting them,"
The Synod has already started selling the idea to other church organisations,
human rights non governmental organisations and government funded Law
Commission. The Malawi Institute for Democratic Affairs (MIDEA) says it will join
hands with the Church in pressing for the re-enactment of that piece of legislature.
MIDEA Executive Director Shyley Kondowe says: "We will assist our colleagues
who are advocating for the re-enactment of the section. In fact we tried to advocate
for the same in the past three years but there was no room for discussion."
Ollen Mwaulunju, Executive Director of Lilongwe based Centre for Human Rights
and Rehabilitation fully supports the new development. He says the move will
install a sense of responsibility and hard work among many parliamentarians.
"With no code of conduct nor terms of service for MPs, these MPs are at liberty to
do whatever they want to because they are not answerable to anyone. They can
stay for 5 years without doing any development work for their constituencies and
nobody can query them. We want them to be answerable to their employers (the
electorate), " says Mwaulunju.
While some members of parliament strongly oppose the re-enactment of the
section, Louis Chimango, a former University law lecturer and parliamentarian for
Lilongwe Mpenu says as an individual he will accept the popular view on the subject. "Let them bring the issue before us so that
it can be discussed; but basically I respect the popular view on the subject," he
says. One of Malawi's top political analysts Horace Somanje proposes that
besides re-instating Section 64, a conference should be convened to review the
He says: "The laws should be carefully weighed to close all loopholes which would
benefit a few individuals in society." Somanje describes Malawi's current
constitution which came into being in 1994 when the country officially changed
from one-party to a multiparty system of government as "a collection of segments
of constitutions of other experienced plural societies, which were assembled in a
haste to meet the deadline of that year's multiparty general elections."
Parliament scrapped the legislation in 1995 following the collapse of the short lived
coalition government of the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) and the
opposition Alliance for Democracy (AFORD). AFORD members who had been
appointed to ministerial positions, refused to resign either as cabinet ministers or
party representatives despite the call by their party president Chakufwa Chihana to
The ruling UDF defended the move arguing that AFORD members had the right to
remain both in cabinet and parliament in the interests of national unity. The
opposition on the other hand challenged the move contending that Section 65 of
the Constitution mandates the Speaker of Parliament to declare vacant the seat of
any member of the National Assembly who was at the time of his or her election,
is a member of one political party represented in the National Assembly.
The civil society has always been complaining about certain laws in the
Constitution which need to be reviewed because they favoured some and not all
Malawians. With the pressure mounted by the religious and human rights group,
Charles Masinga and many other Malawians are able to see some rays of hope at
the end of the tunnel that one day in the future they would be able to recall their
MPs who are inefficient.
ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract
by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17
The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by government to look for another contractor instead of China Hunan Construction to construct of the long awaited Karonga/Chitipa road.
China Hunan from Mainland China won the bid which was approved by the ADB but government later wanted to award the contract to a Portuguese firm, Mota Engil, the second lowest bidder, claiming China Hunan's bid was unrealistically low and that the company had very little experience in Africa.
Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe confirmed on Sunday the ADB rejected the proposal at a meeting held between the bank and Malawi government in Tunisia last week.
The Malawi government wanted the Tunisia meeting to authorise it to get another contractor for the road, said Gondwe.
"They did not allow us to look for another contractor because of their regulations. But we are about to get another alternative for Karonga/Chitipa and I would be surprised if it does not start before end June," said Gondwe.
The minister explained that the bank insisted that regardless of the unrealistic cost estimates, China Hunan should be allowed to go ahead with the construction.
But Gondwe could not give further details about the alternatives, arguing there are still a few loose ends to tighten up before disclosing it.
The problem with China Hunan, according to Gondwe, is that it would require more money to meet the total cost of the project.
This paper reported last week that government met Taiwanese representatives where they offered to fund the road if the ADB continued to reject its favoured contractor, Mota Engil.
Gondwe could neither confirm nor deny the reports on the Taiwanese offer, saying government was looking at a number of ways to handle the issue.
According to Gondwe, the China Hunan's bid was 24 percent lower than the consulting engineers' estimates of K7.9 billion and 34 percent below the second lowest bidder.
President Bingu wa Mutharika laid a foundation stone for the construction of the road this year ahead of a crucial byelection in Chitipa in December last year.
The President's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the Chitipa Wenya constituency by-election that fell vacant following the collapse and subsequent death of Speaker of Parliament Rodwell Munyenyembe who belonged to the UDF.
Last week, police and the District Commissioner (DC) for Chitipa stopped a rally that was aimed at soliciting people's views about development projects in the district.
The meeting, which was reportedly organised by Concerned Citizens of Chitipa, was among other things also supposed to tackle the controversial Karonga/Chitipa road.
The project failed to start off in 2000 when a contract for an initial loan of US$17 million and US$15 million from the Taiwanese government was signed, with some quarters claiming the Bakili Muluzi administration diverted the money to another road.
Chihana operated on
by Edwin Nyirongo, 22 May 2006 - 06:32:31
Alliance for Democracy (Aford) president Chakufwa Chihana, who is in South Africa receiving treatment, had a brain operation on Friday at Garden City Clinic, family and party officials confirmed on Sunday.
Aford national chairman Chipimpha Mughogho said he was told by the family members that Chihana had a successful operation on Friday and was put in an intensive care unit.
Mughogho said Chihana, who initially complained of headache, was found with a brain tumour which South African doctors removed.
Mzimba West MP Loveness Gondwe said Aford boss condition was stable.
"Hon. Chihana had a major operation and after that he was put in the intensive care unit but his condition is stable. I do not know where he was operated on but it had something to do with the skull," she said.
Deputy Information Minister John Bande referred the matter to the Health Minister Hetherwick Ntaba who was reported to be in Geneva, Switzerland.
Aford publicity secretary Norman Nyirenda said when Chihana's situation got worse, the family alerted the Office of the President and Cabinet who took him to Mwaiwathu Private Hospital.
"The doctors at Mwaiwathu advised that he should be sent to South Africa and they even identified the doctor for him," he said.
He said the costs are being met by the Malawi government, contradicting his earlier statement that his boss covered the cost.
Mughogho is now in charge of the party.
Gondwe will be a busy person when Parliament starts meeting on June 6 as she is the only Aford MP remaining.
Pillane proposes presidential age limit
by Emmanuel Muwamba , 22 May 2006 - 06:34:13
A member of the DPP National Governing Council Abdul Pillane on Saturday urged members of political parties and the civil society to put an upper age limit in the Constitution for presidential candidates.
Pillane was addressing members of political parties and civil society in Liwonde during a two-day follow up workshop to the National Conference on the Review of Constitution held in March in Lilongwe.
"My view is that (an upper) age limit should be at 75. We have to give a chance to younger people to lead because in circumstance, when you age you become forgetful especially when sickly," said Pillane. "Overall, chances should be given to young people."
But UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala, whose party members agitated for the age limit during presentations, played the issue down.
"I feel there is no logic to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates. If someone is 90 or 80 I don't know how that can influence the electorate not to vote for someone who is younger, I don't see any logic behind that," said Makwangwala.
MCP participants at the workshop also vehemently objected to the proposal.
MCP vice president Nicholas Dausi in an interview said: "There is no constitution in Africa which stipulates an upper age limit. So it would be strange in Malawi to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates."
MDP President Kamlepo Kalua also opposed the need to have an upper age limit.
"If we have personalities in mind that we want to discriminate against then it is unfortunate. The constitution we want to build is a guiding document for future generations and it should not bar certain individuals on the basis of grudges," he said.
The Malawi Law Constitution Issues Paper of March 2006 says several submissions that were received put an upper presidential age limit in the Constitution.
"It is argued that it is common sense that mental knowledge faculties tend to fail with age. As regards what the actual age limit should be the submissions are far from being agreed. The range is from 60 years to 80 years," read submissions in the Issues Paper.
On whether MPs should double as ministers, Kalua said this should be the case.
Makwangwala also said it is not right for MPs to serve as ministers because the Legislature, another arm of government, is reduced while the Executive branch is beefed up from another arm of government.
"There is no separation of powers when MPs double as ministers," said Makwangwala.
But Pillane said there is no problem for MPs to work as ministers as well, saying MPs are elected by the President.
"One can serve both posts. There have been no problems before for people to double," said Pillane.
The Centre for Multiparty Democracy funded the workshop through the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.
The objective was to come up with a collective position on the Issues Paper which will be presented to the Special Law Commission that will be constituted soon.
Mussa hails new driving licence
by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:58:52
Transport and Public Works Minister Henry Mussa last week said the design of the Malawi-Sadc driving licence would guard against forgery and ensure that only skilled and legitimate drivers of particular vehicles are licensed.
Mussa was speaking at the official launch of the licences in Lilongwe where he announced that traffic police would from July enforce speed limits and sober driving using Breathalysers which his ministry is in the process of procuring.
The minister said financial constraints are the reason for the delay in procuring the equipment but assured that by July they would be available.
"With the new equipment, the days of those who believe in the thrill of drink and driving are numbered," warned Mussa.
Mussa added that with the new licence, government is optimistic that the country's roads would be safe.
Acting Director of Road Traffic James Chirwa said the features that distinguish the new from the old licences are the Malawi national flag and a ghost image of the driver's photograph, among others.
Those with old licences, according to Chirwa, are expected to get the new ones after the expiry of the former.
UDF demands investigation on Kasambara
by Rabecca Theu, 22 May 2006 - 06:30:46
The United Democratic Front (UDF) has asked government to investigate Ralph Kasambara on allegations of abuse of office while he was attorney general.
UDF publicity secretary Sam Mpasu told the press Sunday that the party is neither amused or saddened by the removal of the former AG but asked government to institute investigations on Kasambara.
"Beyond the removal of the Attorney General, we now urge President Mutharika to institute investigation against Mr Kasambara into allegations that have made rounds in the public domain during the recent past. These include: Mrs Helen Singh and SS Rent-a-Car; SGS and ITS saga; ...........the use of Malawi Police Service in the arrest of three Chronicle journalists and the handling of Mrs Rubina Kawonga," said Mpasu.
Mpasu also accused Kasambara of awarding government contracts to Lawson and Company where he was a senior partner.
"We urge government to thoroughly investigate the former AG. We also ask government to cautiously select the new AG ," said Mpasu, who was accompanied by the party's Secretary General Kennedy Makwangwala, leader of the party in Parliament George Mtafu, chief whip Leonard Mangulama and a member of the executive Hophmally Makande.
But Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati said UDF should give offer its advice to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB).
"They should advise bodies like the Anti-Corruption Bureau to conduct the investigations and why are they saying this now? Is it because Kasambara has been fired? This is not a personal issue. If they have other pressing issues they should just say so. These arguments should have come up earlier on when the said cases were happening," she said.
Kasambara asked UDF to proceed with the mission of urging government to investigate him.
"They can do their job. Everyone has a right to lobby for anything they want in the country. UDF has a right to do that, let them go ahead," he said.
Kasambara was relieved of his duties as AG by the President last week. Government has not given reasons behind the removal.
Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land
The Times of Zambia (Ndola)
May 18, 2006
Posted to the web May 19, 2006
MALAWIANS who have encroached on both the 'no-man's' and part of the Zambian land at the Mwami border in Eastern Province have plucked out some beacons that were used in the demarcation of the border.
The Malawians are now using the beacons as stools in their newly-established villages on Zambian land.
Eastern Province Minister, Boniface Nkhata, said in Chipata yesterday that if the situation was not controlled urgently, Zambia would lose huge tracts of land to Malawians migrating into Zambian in large numbers.
A check at the Zambia-Malawi border showed a number of beacons had been vandalised and new structures constructed on the 'no man's' land and a large portion of Zambian land.
Mr Nkhata said the trend extended to many parts of the province bordering the two countries.
"A large portion of Zambian land has been taken up by the Malawians starting from the Chama boundary up to the Mwami border.
"The weighbridge at the Mwami border was initially in Zambia from the time both countries gained independence from Britain, but now the bridge is on Malawian soil," Mr Nkhata said.
The minister, who is former Chama District Commissioner, said there was similar encroachment in Lundazi and Chama districts where Zambia shares a boundary with Malawi.
He said a Malawian farmer identified as Mr Mfune had cultivated 71.5 hectares on Zambian land and employed about 265 Malawian workers.
"Khombe Farm in Chama district in Kanyerere's area, along the Muyombe road which leads to Northern Province where this Malawian farmer has cultivated a vast land is on the Zambian territory," he said.
Workers on the farm admitted that they were farming on Zambian soil but could not go back to Malawi because the land in that country was inadequate for cultivation.
Mr Nkhata appealed to the ministry of Lands to urgently release money for the demarcation of the Zambia-Malawi border to avoid further land disputes between the two countries.
Meanwhile, the Immigration Department in Livingstone has arrested a couple and another man, all Zimbabweans, for working in Zambia without permits.
They were arrested at Gwembe village yesterday where they worked for Into Africa, a tour operating company that provides bush dinners and breakfast.
According to the Immigration Department in Livingstone, the trio entered Zambia through the Victoria Falls border as visitors but decided to work for the company illegally.
Last week, immigration officers arrested 10 Zimbabwean traders and six Ethiopians for entering and staying in Zambia illegally.
The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.
The Ethiopians were arrested at Konje Guest House when they ran out of money to proceed to Botswana.
Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests
22 May 2006 11:51
Zimbabwe's biggest labour federation on Saturday threatened to call massive demonstrations against the government over poor salaries and worsening living conditions for workers in the country.
The threats are ratcheting up pressure against President Robert Mugabe's government after similar threats by the biggest opposition party in the country, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), about two months ago.
Speaking at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) conference on Saturday, the labour body's president, Lovemore Matombo, said the powerful union wants the government to award workers salaries that match the country's ever-rising inflation.
"I can assure you we will stage massive demonstrations to force them [employers] to award workers minimum salaries that tally with the poverty datum line," said Matombo.
Matombo did not say when exactly the ZCTU would order workers to strike.
Meanwhile, the MDC on Sunday said it will push ahead with plans for anti-government protests, saying victory in a key by-election at the weekend was a "sign the electorate supported its policies", including democratic mass resistance.
A spokesperson of the main faction of the splintered MDC, Nelson Chamisa, said victory over Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF and a rival MDC faction in a Saturday by-election in Harare's Budiriro constituency is a sign Zimbabweans still have confidence in party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his policies.
Tsvangirai, the founding leader of the MDC, heads the main rump of the opposition party whose candidate, Emmanuel Chisvuure, polled 7 949 votes to win the Budiriro House of Assembly seat.
Gabriel Chaibva of the other faction of the MDC, led by prominent academic Arthur Mutambara, garnered 504 votes while Zanu-PF's Jeremiah Bvirindi polled 3 961 votes.
"This election showed that the electorate still has confidence in the MDC [Tsvangirai-led] leadership and its policies," Chamisa told independent news service ZimOnline.
He added: "We will now move to consolidate our position * we still believe in mass protests. Until we have attained our goals we see no reason why we should abandon [plans for protests]."
Tsvangirai has threatened to call mass protests this winter against Mugabe and his government. He says the mass protests, whose date he is still to name, are meant to force Mugabe to relinquish power to a government of national unity to be tasked to write a new and democratic Constitution that would ensure free and fair elections held under international supervision.
Mugabe and his government, who had hoped for victory in Budiriro to show they were recapturing urban support from a splintered MDC, have not taken idly the opposition's threats to call mass protests, with the veteran president warning Tsvangirai he would be "dicing with death" if he ever attempted to instigate a Ukraine-style popular revolt in Zimbabwe.
In a fresh crackdown against dissension, the police last week arrested several church and civic leaders for organising public prayers and marches to mark last year's controversial home-demolition exercise by the government.
The police also banned the marches and prayers, fearing they could easily turn into mass protests against Mugabe and his government.
However, the marches went ahead in the second-largest city of Bulawayo after organisers had obtained a court order barring the police from stopping the march.
Political analysts say although Zimbabweans have largely been cowed by Mugabe's tactics of routinely deploying riot police and the military to crush street protests, worsening hunger and poverty are fanning public anger that Tsvangirai -- with proper planning and organisation -- could easily manipulate.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe six-year old economic crisis that has seen inflation breaching the 1 000% barrier. Last year, the World Bank said Zimbabwe's economic crisis was unprecedented for a country not at war.
The MDC and major Western governments blame Mugabe for wrecking the country's economy, which was one of the strongest in Africa at independence from Britain 26 years ago.
Mugabe denies the charge blaming the crisis on sabotage by Britain and her allies after he seized white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks six years ago.
The Harare authorities recently hiked salaries for civil servants, with the lowest-paid soldier now earning about Z$27-million while the lowest-paid school teacher now takes home about Z$33-million.
But the salaries are still way below the poverty datum line, which the government's Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says now stands at a staggering Z$42-million a month for an average family of six.
The Zimbabwe government often accuses the ZCTU, a strong ally of the MDC, of pushing a political agenda to remove Mugabe from power.
Meanwhile, Matombo and Lucia Matibenga retained their posts as president and first vice-president respectively during the ZCTU congress that ended on Saturday. -- ZimOnline