- Electoral Body Chief Under Fire
Panafrican News Agency
December 6, 2000
Malawi's recent local government elections have provoked
recriminations with opposition parties and civil rights groups calling
for the resignation of the head of the Electoral Commission.
The opposition and civil rights groups are particularly irked by a
statement credited to the Electoral Commission chairman,
Supreme Court Justice James Kalaile, in which he reportedly
described the voter apathy as "nonsense."
Malawians went to the polls to vote in local Assembly leaders 21
November after a six-year break.
Analysts claim that only 14 percent of the estimated five million
registered voters cast their ballots.
Defending the turn out, Justice Kalaile said it was a worldwide
trend that voting in local government does not necessarily attract
the same enthusiasm as Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
But James Chimera, Publicity Secretary of the main opposition
Malawi Congress Party (MCP), told PANA Wednesday it was
"myopic" for the judge to make such an assessment.
"If he had prepared adequately for the elections people should
have turned out to vote given the fact they would have been
voting for the first time in six years," Chimera charged.
He said opposition parties had made representations to the
Commission to put in place several measures, including a possible
postponement of the polls, to allow for adequate civic education,
but the suggestions were ignored.
"The judge and his team have failed in their duty, they must
resign," Chimera demanded.
David Nungu, a renowned human rights activist, agrees, accusing
Justice Kalaile of refusing to acknowledge a problem.
"If Kalaile describes the complaints that there is apathy as
nonsense, then we have a big problem in our fledgling democracy.
Those in positions of power should be courageous enough accept
blame," Nungu added.
But Electoral Commission spokesman Fergus Lipenga has
countered that it is irrational and unfair to ask the chairman to
resign because Malawi does not have laws that force people to
"We could not force anybody to vote, it's people's choice so you
can't hold anyone responsible for somebody else's choice," he
Kalaile himself said there were several factors that might have led
to the voter apathy. He said, for instance, that November is in the
rainy season when most people are busy in the field.
He also said that some voters might have been disillusioned with
the political system.
"It's therefore unfair to expect the Commission to police voters
because its role is just to make sure the polling process is
conducted according to law," the Commission boss explained.
President Bakili Muluzi's ruling United Democratic Front won a
landslide, amassing a record 610 of the 860 wards.
The main opposition Malawi Congress Party performed badly,
winning only 84 wards, beaten to the third position by its junior
opposition partner, the Alliance for Democracy, which polled 120
One ward was won by the newly-formed National Independence
Party, while 28 wards went to the independents.
Voting will be re-run in at least 17 wards.
Malawi Relates Experience In Fighting AIDS
Panafrican News Agency
December 5, 2000
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Justin Malewezi, the Malawi vice president, urged participants
gathered in Addis Ababa for a major conference on development
and AIDS in Africa, to intensify their fight against the pandemic.
"We face grief beyond words - and sorrow beyond tears" unless
HIV/AIDS is halted through intensified and accelerated response to
the challenge, he said.
Malewezi was speaking in one of two parallel plenary sessions of
the 2nd African Development Forum.
The presentation on "Country Responses And Building On
Lessons Learned" was made at the gathering which has attracted
over 1,500 participants from 44 African countries and international
organisations to deliberate on the theme of "AIDS: The Greatest
"As leaders we must be at the forefront of breaking the silence,
upholding human dignity and showing compassion for all those
with HIV/AIDS," Malewezi said.
He mentioned specific areas for preventing the transmission of the
virus. Foremost among these was protecting the most venerable
members of society - children and women.
Malewezi said empowering women, who are vulnerable to the HIV
infection, would be the key to reducing the spread of the epidemic.
He also said changing men's sexual behaviour was another
component in his country's fight to prevent the spread of the virus.
Others he cited were the establishment of multi-sectoral
programme to cope with the problem, increasing access to sexual
and reproductive health services and working with civil society to
reduce the impact of the disease on agriculture and rural
"The major impact of HIV/AIDS on agriculture includes serious
depletion of human resources, diversion of capital from agriculture
to patient care, loss of farm and non-farm income and other
psychological impact that affect agricultural productivity," he
On the private sector and labour policy, he said there was need to
scale up the work place programme to provide information about
HIV prevention and care.
He noted that the military should also be addressed, saying
"military personnel are extremely vulnerable to HIV and other
sexually transmitted infections."
"The strengths of the Malawi programme has been our ability to
collaborate across all sectors. We have been ready to listen and
respond to ideas and criticism from all quarters," Malewezi stated.
"This openness is very important as nobody has all the answers."
Malawi Outlines Mineral Resources Potential
Panafrican News Agency
December 5, 2000
In a bid to complement its agro- economy, the Malawi government
has identified a range of mineral resources that could boost the
country's export and local trade.
The government has of late been giving mining much attention as
a possible economic alternative in the wake of perennial dismal
performance of tobacco which currently contributes up to 75
percent of the nation's foreign exchange earnings.
The department of mines, in a document headed "Mineral
Opportunities In Malawi," says millions of metric tonnes of mineral
resources such as bauxite, phosphate, uranium, vermiculite, iron
sulphides, monazite and some diamonds need full exploitation.
It says over 30 million metric tonnes of bauxite with an estimated
excavation life of 43 years are delineated on Mulanje Mountain.
So far, plans are underway to start bauxite mining from the
mountain, a move vehemently opposed by environmentalists who
fear the pristine peak will be destroyed by the activity.
Over three million tonnes of phosphate, a mineral used for
fertiliser production, are lying unexploited also in the southern
districts of Mulanje and Phalombe. Malawi currently imports
The department of mines also says limestone, used in the
production of cement, lime and detergent, are widely spread in the
country particularly in the southern region with estimated 600
million metric tonnes, while 10 million tonnes of iron sulphides are
found in central districts of Lilongwe and Dowa.
Iron sulphides are used in the manufacturing of sulphuric acids
which is used in the production of chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
The department of mines also says Malawi has uranium in the
northern district of Karonga, with deposits grade of 0.23 percent,
and a mine life span of 10 years with exports in the range of 34
million US dollars per annum at present day rates.
An Australian company, Paladin Resources, has so far shown
interest in the mineral and is expected to start mining in 2003.
Also available in the southern district of Machinga and Cape
Maclear in the southern lakeshore district Mangochi are over 10
million tonnes of monazite.
Monazite is used in the production of cobalt magnets for use in
electricity generators, camera lenses, television tubes, toothpaste
and in sugar production.
Malawi also has deposits of up to 16 million metric tonnes of
ceramic clays and heavy mineral sands in central districts of
Ntcheu and Dedza.
Ceramic clays are used for manufacturing kitchenware such as
cups and saucers, in addition to electric insulators on power lines.
Over 100 million metric tonnes and another 11.9 million of the clay
are delineated in Salima and Karonga districts, respectively.
The Mines department says it will soon review the minerals
legislation under the liberalised economy.
Government Finally Approves Teaching of
African Church Information Service
December 4, 2000
Malawian school going children will be learning in their mother
tongue if a government plan to promote local languages as a
medium of instruction in schools is adopted. In the last six years,
the government has introduced four local languages - Tumbuka,
Yao, Sena and Lomwe - on the national radio. There are
commitments to translate important documents, including popular
literature, into local languages.
The national strategy for the promotion of local languages in
schools has been advanced at the second national language
policy symposium which was conducted at the Malawi lakeside
resort of Mangochi on October 25.
Addressing the gathering of 80 participants, former Education
Minister Kassim Chilumpha said studies have shown that learning
in a local language facilitates easy understanding on the part of
He said that the notion that English is superior has come about
because Malawians have wrongly equated education with
proficiency in English.
Chilumpha said that the government will intensify the translation of
important documents into local languages, including important
literature and publications such as dictionaries.
"We would not just confine ourselves to the first four years of
primary education. We have to venture into other areas such as
the translation of relevant documents into local languages," said
Chilumpha, adding that this would accelerate the process of
making knowledge available to the grassroots communities.
Chilumpha, however, accepted that in the long run this would be
expensive on the part of the government as it would require the
recruitment of experts in the various languages.
He dispelled the view that many well to do parents take their
children to private schools because the medium of instruction is
wholly English, saying the major reason was the belief that there
are better teachers in private schools.
The symposium was convened to critically review the role of local
languages in education as a follow-up to the first one held last
year. It was expected to come up with recommendations which will
be used in drafting a national language policy to be presented to
When incumbent President Bakili Muluzi came to power in 1994,
one of the first things he did was to reintroduce the Tumbuka
language on the national radio. He promised that other languages
would be introduced on the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation upon
introduction of a second channel.
This promise was fulfilled four years later, not only with one
additional language at a time, but a proliferation of three other
ethnic languages of Yao, Sena and Lomwe.
Chiyao is largely spoken in the lakeshore districts of Mangochi,
Salima Machinga (the home district of President Muluzi) and parts
of Dedza district. Sena is predominantly spoken in the Lower Shire
districts of Nsanje and Chikwawa, the home of the main Opposition
leader Gwanda Chakuamba.
Lomwe is an ethnic language spoken mainly in the Southern
Region districts of Thyolo, Mulanje and parts of Zomba districts. It
is a language whose roots are in Mozambique where a larger
variety of dialects are spoken.
During the colonial period when Malawi, then Nyasaland, was
under British rule, two local languages were taught in schools.
Chinyanja (later known as Chichewa) was the most prominent
language next to English as medium of instruction and learning.
Chitumbuka, with its own literature, was the major language of
instruction and learning in the Northern Region besides the
During the Kamuzu Banda era, Chinyanja which also spans the
eastern districts of Zambia, was renamed Chichewa, a term which
simply implies a dialect of the same language as spoken in the
Linguists believe that the former president used the language
manipulation as a national uniting factor, so that no ethnic group
should be identifying itself by language, but as an entity of the
However, political analysts say by adopting the Central Region
dialect of Chichewa as encompassing the overall national
language, the former maverick leader was simply trying to give
greater recognition to his own tribe.
But proponents of the scheme thought it had done much to
consolidate national unity. On the other hand, the introduction of
many local languages on national radio is seen as appeasing the
various tribal groupings to feel recognised at national level.
While these changes in language utilisation may pose problems,
linguists say the use of these languages will help to preserve
One of the linguists, Dr Francis Moto who is vice principal of
University of Malawi's Chancellor College, says that the use of
these languages makes people feel part of the country.
This standpoint discounts arguments by some schools of thought
that too many local languages at national level may act as a
wedge and divide the nation. Moto says recognition of different
languages will benefit each tribe culturally.
However, Moto admitted that a lot of work need to be done to
streamline the selection of the national language. This has arisen
by the introduction of Chinyanja by the newly-instituted Mzuzu
University in the North.
While the language is almost the same, the different terminologies
pose serious inconsistencies which need to be looked at by both
the University of Malawi and Mzuzu University, he said.
Moto contends that one thing the University of Malawi struggled to
get rid of was the name of the Department of Languages and
Linguistics formerly known as the Department of Chichewa and
"We struggled to change the name because it sounded as if the
college was only offering Chichewa and now from nowhere we are
told that the Mzuzu University will have a department of Chinyanja
This is really confusing," says Moto, emphasising that Chinyanja is
the former name of Chichewa. "If it were kicked out from the name
of the department at Chancellor College, why bring it back at the
Similarly, Malawians are asking how ethnic languages can be
taught in various parts of the country at the expense of the English
language and at the same time ensure a national unified learning
system. Could this make a positive impact?
In the past, the vernacular national language - Chinyanja or
Chichewa as it was later called - was taught in the first two grades
of primary school before going to English in the third grade.
This, however, has been changed and English is being taught
right from grade one in all schools. It remains to be seen, say
some commentators, how the proposed system shall work. They
believe a lot of hurdles have to be surmounted before a perfect
learning system can be devised.
Plant's bark better than Aids'
OWN CORRESPONDENT, Cape Town | Wednesday
POTIONS made of bark and crushed leaves are being used
successfully to treat infections plaguing Aids victims in
Tanzania's Tanga region, a Commonwealth conference on
phytomedicines has heard.
American David Scheinman told delegates from Africa and Europe
a German doctor had stumbled on the benefits of the traditional
medicines in the region in 1991, prompting a treatment
programme for some 400 Aids victims in the coastal region.
The first guinea pig was an Aids patient called Mohammed at a
hospital in the small town of Pangani, whose condition improved
markedly after taking the traditional medicines and is still alive,
"Patients and doctors say the potions help increase appetite,
gain weight, stop diarrhoea, reduce fevers, clear up oral thrush,
skin rashes and fungus, cure herpes and clear ulcers," he said.
The treatments, which are drunk as tea or mixed with water or
coconut milk and applied to the skin, are made with three plants
that grow wild in the tropics in Africa.
They are not helpful for people with advanced Aids, but
"eliminated some of the misery associated with Aids" and
patients in earlier stages of the disease reported a marked
improvement in their health in one to four weeks of starting
treatment, Scheinman said.
The medicines were best taken continuously and of those
patients who stopped, about 32% reported that their symptoms
The non-governmental group running the programme, the Tanga
Aids Working Group, buys the treatments from traditional healers
for $1.5 for each patient's supply and then administers them in
state hospitals and at Aids sufferers' homes.
"People here sometimes have nothing but aspirin to treat Aids,
and we send the plant medicines to people outside Tanga, but it
is not practical to send off leaves and powder that need to be
prepared," Scheinman said.
"It would be better if we could make medicines and salves out the
The conference passed a resolution to fast-track research into
developing phytomedicines from the plants used in Tanzania "to
redress the epidemic in Africa," which is home to most of the
world's Aids sufferers.
The aim of the conference, which ended on Tuesday, was to find
explore exporting African medicinal plants to the rest of the world
as a way of uplifting poor communities on the continent. - AFP
Mugabe Rejects U.N. Envoy Pleas
By Angus Shaw
Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2000; 7:08 a.m. EST
HARARE, Zimbabwe ** The government rebuked a top U.N. envoy
Wednesday for trying to "lecture" President Robert Mugabe on the need to
restore law and order to Zimbabwe's program to confiscate white-owned
The Herald newspaper, a state-controlled government mouthpiece that
reflects official thinking, said Mugabe "was not amused" by comments made
by Mark Malloch Brown, a special representative of U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, during a visit to Harare last week.
It quoted unnamed government officials as saying a Friday meeting between
Mugabe and Malloch Brown achieved little. The envoy tried to lecture
Mugabe on the rule of law, forcing Mugabe to take time to explain the
background to the land seizures, The Herald said.
Several thousand whites own about one-third of the productive land in
Zimbabwe, which also supports 2 million farm workers and their families.
About 7.5 million blacks live on the remaining two-thirds. Since last winter,
though, ruling party militants have illegally occupied about 1,700
white-owned farms, squatting on the land and disrupting farm production.
Mugabe has called the occupation a justified protest against unfair land
ownership by the white descendants of colonial-era settlers who originally
seized black land without paying.
The government has ignored two court orders to clear the squatters from
the private land. Meanwhile, it has proposed its own program for seizing
white land without paying compensation and has begun moving blacks onto
hundreds of the 3,000 white-owned farms it has targeted for confiscation.
Before his departure Saturday, Malloch Brown, who is also the
administrator of the U.N. Development Program, said he met with Mugabe
to explore ways of moving the land reform process forward with donor
assistance. But he warned Mugabe that donors would not support
resettlement unless the law was observed.
The United Nations has estimated it would cost $500 million to $750 million
to compensate the 3,000 whites for their 12 million acres of targeted
farmland. But foreign loans have virtually dried up since political violence
surrounding parliamentary elections in June left 32 people dead and
thousands homeless. Most of the victims were opposition supporters.
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