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  • Christine Chumbler
    Electoral Body Chief Under Fire Panafrican News Agency December 6, 2000 Raphael Tenthani Blantyre, Malawi Malawi s recent local government elections have
    Message 1 of 1046 , Dec 6, 2000
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      Electoral Body Chief Under Fire

      Panafrican News Agency
      December 6, 2000

      Raphael Tenthani
      Blantyre, Malawi

      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
      vote.

      "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
      said.

      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
      wards.

      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
      Leadership Challenge."

      "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
      development.

      "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
      pointed out.

      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

      Blantyre, Malawi

      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
      fertiliser.

      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
      Mother Tongue

      African Church Information Service
      (Nairobi)
      December 4, 2000

      Hamilton Vokhiwa
      Blantyre

      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
      the pupils.

      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
      Parliament.

      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
      English language.

      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
      Central Region.

      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
      Malawi nation.

      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
      them.

      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
      Linguistics.

      "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
      and Linguistics.

      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
      new university?"

      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'
      bite

      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,
      Scheinman said.
      "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
      returned.
      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
      plants."
      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
      land.

      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.
    • 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.

        Crackdown

        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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