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  • Christine Chumbler
    A Chinese AIDS Drug Causes Sensation in Malawi Blantyre, Malawi (PANA) (Panafrican News Agency, April 3, 2000) - There is a new drug that is causing a stir on
    Message 1 of 1046 , Apr 4, 2000
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      A Chinese AIDS Drug Causes Sensation in Malawi

      Blantyre, Malawi (PANA) (Panafrican News Agency, April 3, 2000) - There is
      a new drug that is causing a stir on the Malawi market and exciting hopeful
      headlines in the media.

      The wonder drug is a Chinese drug, called Conthy Capsule, which is widely
      believed to be a cure for AIDS.

      A street vendor, who only identified himself as Steve, told PANA Monday he
      has sold a record 30 packets of the drug since the Mirror newspaper flashed the
      story on the drug on its front page Saturday.

      Desperate Malawians are grabbing for the drug in droves. At 114 US dollars a
      packet of 20 capsules, believed to be the correct dosage, Conthy Capsule is still
      expensive by Malawi standards but affordable comparing to the recommended
      AZT or 3TC cocktail therapy that costs up to 600 dollars a month.

      Another plus for Conthy Capsule is that while the recommended cocktails of
      AZT and 3TC only lengthen lives of the infected but do not cure the disease, the
      Chinese drug is said to be the ultimate cure.

      Lee Xi Cheng, a Chinese national currently visiting Malawi as a tourist, said the
      drug is popular in remote provinces in China. He added that it is mainly
      prescribed as supplementary vitamins for pregnant women and lactating mothers
      that are anaemic.

      "It is also believed the drug can cure cancer," he said.

      But a leaflet accompanying the drug said Conthy Capsule, which is manufactured
      by the Beijing-based Xini Phamarceutical Company, removes insomnia,
      dizziness and fatigue - all symptoms of full-blown AIDS.

      The leaflet also claims the drug enhances white-blood cells thereby strengthening
      the immune system that is wrecked by HIV.

      The drug was first introduced in Malawi during the International Trade Fair in
      1999 at a Chinese stand. Although handlers of the stand did not quite officially
      say the drug was an AIDS cure, they did whisper to excited window shoppers
      that it was the wonder drug that can cure AIDS.

      The drug then found its way into Malawi's growing street vendor community
      who have since hit gold with it. The original price was about 25 dollars but when
      excitement built up around it, the price reached 120 dollars.

      Although the government has not officially endorsed it, most Malawians still
      believe Conthy Capsule is the next good thing from a miracle. With about 14
      percent of Malawi's 11 million people infected with AIDS and six dying daily,
      anything that gives an aura of hope is welcome.

      Health and Population Minister Aleke Banda has since warned Malawians
      against rushing for purported AIDS cures.

      He told last week's donor conference that pledged 110 million dollars to fight
      AIDS in the country that any claim of an AIDS cure will thwart government
      efforts to fight the disease, since people may relax safety measures against it.

      But this is not the first time Malawians have rushed for a purported wonder drug.

      In 1996, Billy Chisupe, a 76-year-old, from the southern remote district of
      Machinga became an instant celebrity when he claimed to have dreamt of a root
      that could cure AIDS.

      Soon after the claim sifted into newspapers, thousands of Malawians flocked to
      the village to sip the wonder drug.

      The footpath to the hitherto largely inaccessible area became the most trodden
      road within three weeks.

      Although government discounted Chisupe's claims, it joined the Red Cross in
      constructing tents for the very sick and toilets for the public.

      Now sick, frail and very old, Chisupe, who was not charging for his tasteless
      concoction, still claims his magic drink was a cure.

      He told PANA recently that a few of his patients came back to him to thank him
      for purifying their blood.


      Refugees Using Underhand Ways to Gain Entry into Malawi

      Blantyre, Malawi (PANA) (Panafrican News Agency, April 3, 2000) - The
      Malawi government is investigating a cartel that is allegedly supplying refugees
      and asylum seekers with fake Malawian passports for their easy entry in the

      This follows the arrest of two former refugees at South Africa's Johannesburg
      International Airport and another at Harare International Airport.

      Officials at the Department of Disaster Preparedness, Relief and Rehabilitation
      said they believe the refugees and asylum seekers connive with immigration
      officials and police officers to obtain the passports.

      Kennedy Mughogho, assistant co-ordinator for refugees in the department, said
      the arrested refugees and asylum seekers have since been referred back to
      Malawian authorities and are currently helping in investigations into the cartel.

      "Some of the refugees even go as far as the UK. We don't know how they get
      Malawian passports," he told PANA.

      Mughogho said Malawi is currently getting up to 100 refugees and asylum
      seekers every week.

      He added that apart from the criminal elements among the refugee community,
      there are others who come to Malawians economic refugees. These includes
      Nigerians, Ghanaians and Cameroonians.

      There are officially 1,800 refugees at the refugee camp in the central district of
      Dowa. Most of these are from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo,
      Uganda and Rwanda while some of them are from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia
      and Sudan.

      But officials believe there must be unregistered refugees in their hundreds who
      have fused among Malawians, especially in the suburbs of Lilongwe.

      Meanwhile, the UNHCR and the government are collaborating on a draft
      legislation to amend Malawi's current refugee laws which bar refugees from
      getting employed, engaging in income-generating activities or getting education in
      public schools.

      In reality, however, some refugees have been engaged in commercial activities in
      the country's markets, while others are teaching in private schools.


      Malawi, Uganda Boot British Company out on Corruption

      Blantyre (Malawi) (African Eye News Service, April 3, 2000) - Malawi's
      government suspended its multi-million dollar contract with British pre-shipment
      clearance company Intertek Testing Services (ITS) on Friday following
      allegations that it was involved in corrupt practices in other African countries.

      The surprise move has been hailed as Malawi President Bakili Muluzi's first real
      public stand against rampant corruption in the small central African country.

      Outspoken new finance minister Mathews Chikaonda said on Friday the
      suspension was ordered by Malawi's Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) following
      confirmation that Uganda had expelled ITS for corruption.

      ITS was originally appointed to handle all Malawi's shipment clearance services
      by Chikaonda's controversial predecessor, Cassim Chilumpha, in defiance of
      Tender Board recommendations that the French company Societe Generale de
      Surveillance (SGS) was better placed to perform the contract.

      Chilumpha dismissed the recommendation, saying he was aware of corruption
      charges against SGS.

      President Muluzi reviewed the contract, however, immediately after elections
      late last year as part of a new clean government initiative.

      "There were concerns about the contract and I then decided to do some more
      research on the issue because I do not wish to repeat the mistakes of my
      predecessor," said Chikaonda.

      Chilumpha lost his finance portfolio seat during a cabinet reshuffle earlier this
      year and is now Malawi's education minister.

      Chikaonda said President Muluzi's office had recommended that SGS be
      awarded the contract following ITS's expulsion but stressed that no final decision
      had been made yet. He confirmed the contract might be put out to open tender
      again, but said ITS would be precluded from entering and all applicants would
      be submitted to in-depth probity checks.

      "I first became aware of irregularities surrounding ITS but reading on the Internet
      that Uganda had kicked the company out of the country," said Chikaonda.

      "This is the kind of information I'm looking for to make a better decision at the
      end of the day for the good of our economy."

      The Internet news reports indicated that Uganda's parliamentary finance
      committee discovered evidence of forged bills of entry and undeclared goods
      which had cost the country millions of dollars in lost revenue.

      Geneva-based SGS has previously won acclaim in Malawi for running various
      revenue collection services and is currently contracted in 140 countries with 845
      offices and 338 laboratories employing 38 000 people.

      "All future tenders will be as transparent as possible, with clearly defined criteria.
      This country needs an internationally reputable pre- shipment clearance system if
      we want to build a competitive economy," said Chikaonda.

      Chikaonda, who was until recently Malawi's Reserve Bank governor, also
      pledged more consultation with the private sector and donor community on fiscal
    • Christine Chumbler
      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
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22, 2006
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        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

        Andrew Lungu


        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

        Harare, Zimbabwe

        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.

        Opposition protests

        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

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