- This is gonna be a long one since I'm including all the news from last week when I was on vacation. (Great to see you again, Sean!)
Sacked Minister Accused Of Plans To Burn
Panafrican News Agency
December 30, 2000
Police in the southern district of Mulanje Saturday interrogated
sacked former minister Brown Mpinganjira's on allegations that he
was mobilising supporters to burn down mosques in the country.
Southern Region police commissioner Milward Chikwamba
confirmed that police questioned Mpinganjira, an MP of the ruling
United Democratic Front (UDF), following a tip-off.
Chikwamba denied that politics played a part in the probe.
"There is no crime in police acting on a tip because it is our duty to
ensure that law and order is maintained," he told PANA.
However, Mpinganjira told PANA in a telephone interview that
although the officers who interviewed him were polite, he was
angry because the police were hounding him for nothing.
He described the new investigations as baseless because if he
wants to rule Malawi he would rule Muslims as well.
"These people are desperate to find any other charge that can
have me locked up quickly so that I cannot reveal to the nation the
rot that is going on among the ruling class," he said.
Mpinganjira has warned he will reveal corrupt officials, including
what he termed as Malawi biggest thief, next month, during his trial
on corruption charges.
Meanwhile, political fall-out from the Mpinganjira affair started
Saturday with the UDF politburo dissolving all party committees in
the southern region that are sympathetic to Mpinganjira.
But Winston Sakwata, who was sacked as UDF southern region
treasurer and an avowed Mpinganjira loyalist, said he wilfully
resigned following Mpinganjira's sacking from the cabinet.
Mpinganjira has not been sacked as National Organising
Secretary for the UDF but his parliamentary constituency
committee and those MPs supporting him have all since been
Poverty On The Increase In Rural Malawi
Panafrican News Agency
January 2, 2001
Poverty is increasingly becoming more abject in rural Malawi, the
department of rural development at the Bunda College of
Agriculture within the University of Malawi indicates in a fresh
The study says rural Malawi, host to 85 percent of the nation's 10
million population live, is where the most vulnerable are
concentrated. The rural areas are least accessible to development
and other social services.
Samuel Bota, of the department, presented the study to local
government officials in Blantyre Monday, saying the figures are
coming about despite numerous development projects
government and NGOs have tried to implement in the rural areas.
He said the study, which was carried out in all the 27 districts of
Malawi, reveals that most such development projects fail because
authorities impose them on communities.
He described such strategies as top-bottom approaches, which
mostly bypass priorities in a given area.
"Relief culture remains the biggest challenge. Most vulnerable
Malawians shun away from meetings and development activities
became all they need are handouts that solve their immediate
basic needs such as food," he said.
Bota said the other problem aggravating rural poverty is the
concentration of development activities in certain areas while
skipping others that are in dire need of services.
Secretary for Ministry of Local Government and District
Administration, James Kalilangwe agreed with Bota, calling on the
government and NGOs to spread out development programmes
for the benefit of a greater number of people.
"It is important that the beneficiaries of development programmes
who are the rural communities in the targeted areas should be
involved in identifying, planning and implementation of
development programmes in their areas," he emphasised.
Kalilongwe said government adopted a 10-year decentralisation
policy to enhance the role of communities, civil society and others
in the planning and management of development.
He said the overall objective of the policy is to ensure that
development projects, especially in rural areas contribute to
reduction of poverty through broad based labour intensive growth
that ensure food security at the household and national levels.
The report says that there are much fewer school schools per
given area than in urban areas. And schools in the rural areas
have far fewer teachers.
Newly-published national census results show that up to 25
percent of Malawi's population, most of whom resident in the rural
areas, fetch water for daily use from unprotected wells and rivers,
while up to 22 percent of have no access sanitary toilets.
Sacked Minister Returns Home With Low Profile
Panafrican News Agency
January 2, 2001
By Raphael Tenthani
Malawi's former finance minister, Cassim Chilumpha, who left the
country soon after his dismissal from President Bakili Muluzi's
cabinet, returned home Tuesday to face possible fraud and
corrupt charges in court.
Muluzi fired Chilumpha, along with Labour Minister Peter Chupa
and Transport Minister Brown Mpinganjira in December following
intense public pressure after an official report fingered the
ministers in a multi-million kwacha fraud of public funds.
Mpinganjira appeared in court last week to answer charges of
corruption by an official. Chupa has not been charged yet.
Chilumpha jetted into the country as quietly as he had left,
reportedly to Saudi Arabia to perform a pilgrimage.
But contrary to the expectations of many, no policeman was
waiting to arrest him at Lilongwe International Airport. A police
officer on duty at the airport told PANA in a telephone interview
that police knew of the former minister's arrival Tuesday.
Nobody in government or police was ready to comment on
Chilumpha's arrival. Police spokesman Oliver Soko said that the
police was not ready to comment on Chilumpha because there
was no docket on him yet.
"We don't have anything on Dr. Chilumpha yet," he said.
Director of Public Prosecutions Fahard Assani said it was not his
duty to arrest anybody wanted on anything. He said when
investigating authorities like the police and the Anti-Corruption
Bureau finish investigations they hand over to him information to
prepare a docket.
"The report (by the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee on
high fraud and corruption in government) is not enough to warrant
prosecution of anybody. Investigating authorities have to
investigate the allegations made before pressing a charge," he
Chilumpha's name featured highly in the landmark fraud and
corruption report officially presented in Parliament a fortnight ago.
Peter Chiwona, an opposition MP and a member of the Public
Accounts Committee, fingered Chilumpha as having allegedly
facilitated the pilfering of over 125 million kwacha (two million US
dollars) of government funds by ghost contractors of schools.
He added that Chilumpha was either colluding with the fraudsters
or he was grossly incompetent to authorise the release of the
millions without checking where the money was going.
"But a man of his calibre, Dr. Chilumpha should know something,"
Since his sacking, Chilumpha has been lying low.
Environment minister Harry Thomson, who is the ruling United
Democratic Front Leader in Parliament, said Chilumpha, who he
succeeded as Leader of the House, never officially took leave of
The local press speculated he was on the run until his return
Perhaps journalists who waited for him at the airport were the most
After disembarking from the Kenyan Airways flight, the former
minister - dressed casually and looking calm - briefly rested in the
airport's VIP lounge before he drove away without saying anything
to the press.
Government Reaches Agreement With Striking
Panafrican News Agency
January 3, 2001
Malawi government Wednesday said it would allocate houses to
nurses and set up a task-force to address their grievances
following a nation-wide strike over the Christmas holiday.
Speaking to the nurses in Blantyre after a closed-door meeting
with President Bakili Muluzi, Health Minister Aleke Banda
expressed the President's dissatisfaction over the strike.
Banda said the President was particularly angered by the strike
which brought suffering to the people.
The nurses, however, argued that they staged the strike over the
festive season to press their case.
They have since resumed work with assurances from their
National Association and government that no one is to be
punished for the strike, which the authorities called illegal.
Nurses in government hospitals launched the action demanding
general improvement in their working conditions.
They were also apparently angered by government's decision to
suspend allocation of houses to civil servants, except those on
essential services like security forces and doctors.
The Nurses Association President Gorgina Chinula, insisted that
doctors and nurses work hand-in-hand.
"Without nurses doctors are handicapped," she said.
The strike paralysed hospital services leading to a number of
preventable deaths, especially in the maternity wards.
Sacked Malawi Minister Forms Pressure Group
Panafrican News Agency
January 3, 2001
Malawi's dismissed senior minister Brown Mpinganjira has
announced the formation of a pressure group, named National
Democratic Alliance (NDA).
At least 3,000 people braved an unusually cold foggy weather and
drizzles to hear Mpinganjira announce the launch of NDA
Wednesday in his home town of Mulanje, some 100 km from
He said the pressure group's main aim was to bring back good
governance in Malawi which he said was being threatened by
personal ambitions of leaders of the ruling United Democratic
This was quite a disappointment for many people who thought BJ,
as he is fondly referred to among his supporters, would announce
the formation of a break-away political party from the UDF.
Although Mpinganjira insisted he was still a member of the UDF,
everything about the Mulanje rally resembled a completely new
For instance, the official yellow colour of the UDF was
conspicuously absent. So was the clasping together of hands
which is a symbol of the party.
The UDF slogan was also hapharzadly replaced by a personalised
chant of "BJ!! POWER!!! BJ POWER!!!
Mpinganjira told his supporters the primary aim of his pressure
group was to force the government to form a government of
"For Malawi to develop, the government need to include all
political parties represented in government, the civil society and
representatives of all interest groups like businessmen because all
these people have good ideas," he said.
He added that his arrest last week was as a result of his urge to
President Bikili Muluzi to consider including other players in the
running of the government and that he should not consider
running for a third term.
He explained that for six years after the UDF took over power, the
government has been blaming its failures on the Malawi Congress
Party (MCP), its predecessor. It was now time to include even the
vilified MCP because the UDF has failed.
"Until when are we going to keep blaming the MCP?" he said.
Mpinganjira, however, disappointed his supporters and a horde of
journalists and other observers who followed him to Mulanje with
the hope that he would let out his big revelation about official
corruption in government and who he has been terming as the
biggest thief in Malawi.
He said his lawyer has advised him against that because he wants
to use that as part of his defence when his case commences in the
Blantyre Magistrate's Court Thursday.
The rally was attended by a cross-section of UDF leaders,
including MPs, who vowed to fight against Muluzi's bid to run for a
third term. Representatives of the MCP, churches and chiefs were
also on hand.
Meanwhile, at the preliminary hearing in Blantyre Wednesday,
Director of Public Prosecution Fahard Assani applied to Blantyre
principal magistrate Sylvester Kalembera to contract Mpinganjira's
charges to three counts of official corruption by public servant
instead of the original four counts.
University Lecturers On Strike Over Pay
Panafrican News Agency
January 4, 2001
Lecturers at the Malawi University's Polytechnic have gone on
strike to press their demand for better pay.
James Khomba, chairman of the Polytechnic Academic Staff
Committee on Welfare (PASCOW) told PANA Thursday the
lecturers would neither resume lecturers nor administer any
examinations until the issue of their salaries is resolved.
"The economic situation in this country is in such a way that the
salaries we are getting cannot suffice. We are barely getting by,"
In a petition to the Vice-Chancellor and the University Council,
PASCOW demanded that entry salary for staff associate should
not be less than 20, 000 Malawi Kwacha (about 256 US dollars),
while substantive lecturers should be paid according to
qualification and experience based on the prevailing market value.
Students of the Polytechnic started arriving Tuesday for
registration ahead of the first 2001 semester, which was to have
started Wednesday. They were scheduled to go straight into
But the lecturers' strike has disrupted the programme.
"We already warned the administration here (at the Polytechnic)
that students should not be recalled to campus until this issue is
resolved," said Khomba of PASCOW.
The University Vice-Chancellor David Rubadiri and Registrar
Geoffrey Chipungu, late Wednesday met PASCOW members and
all the staff at the college for negotiations.
Rubadiri, a former diplomat at the United Nations and a former
lecturer at Makerere University in Uganda, reportedly told the
lecturers the Council appreciated their concerns but asked them
to go back to classes while their matter was being sorted out.
But that appeal has been rejected.
"Anything short of our demand is not acceptable," said Khomba.
He claimed that salaries in the University of Malawi are still
colonial, and out of tune with the trend of inflation, especially the
depreciation of the local currency, Kwacha.
Meanwhile, the Polytechnic student union has expressed solidarity
with their lecturers.
Drama In Malawi Court As State Witness Rebels
Panafrican News Agency
January 4, 2001
The case in which former Malawi senior minister Brown
Mpinganjira is being accused of pocketing about 57,000 Malawi
Kwacha (about 731 US dollars) in bribes to favour a contractor
opened in dramatic fashion in Blantyre Thursday, after a state
witness turned against the government.
Yusuf Ahmed Bobat, the businessman who allegedly gave the
sacked former senior minister the money to win the lucrative
contracts in the Ministry of Education, stunned the jam-packed
court-room when he vehemently denied having giving the alleged
Bobat, answering questions in cross-examination from the Director
of Public Prosecutions, Farhard Assani, said it was true he gave
Mpinganjira some money towards the building of his house in
He also admitted he gave Mpinganjira's wife, Lizzie, some more
Bobat, however, said all the money was a loan which the
Mpinganjiras have since repaid in full.
"In fact the Mpinganjiras are family friends and my family has time
and again received financial help from them," he said.
Bobat, who looked sickly due to a diabetic condition, told the DPP
he has never received favours from Mpinganjira.
He won all tenders to supply education materials to the education
ministry through an open tender.
Bobat also told the court he gave Mpinganjira the first loan when
he had already secured a contract from the Ministry of Education.
He said he gave out the next loan when President Bakili Muluzu
had dissolved his cabinet and the last loan when Mpinganjira had
moved from the Ministry of Education to Foreign Affairs.
"I am not a criminal; it's not a crime to be friends with the
Honourable Minister; I am friendly to lots of people," he said.
Assani at one point asked for an adjustment to let the witness
consult his lawyer but Presiding Magistrate Silvester Kalembera
overruled him after protestations from Mpinganjira's lawyer, Ralph
Kasambara, who argued the DPP might try to influence the
The case turned emotional when Mpinganjira's lawyer,
Kasambara, revealed that Bobat made allegations of having
bribed Mpinganjira to fiscal police investigators after meeting
President Muluzi at State House in Blantyre on 17 December 2000
in the company of presidential affairs minister Dumbo Lemani.
While admitting that he met Muluzi, Bobat refused to be drawn in
admitting that the whole case was a political vendetta orchestrated
by Muluzi and Lemani.
"I am not going to answer that question, learned counsel, because
I don't want to be a political witness," he said.
At the beginning of the trial, Principal Resident Magistrate
Kalembera warned all politicians including President Muluzi, his
ministers and ruling party officials and opposition newspapers
against commenting on the trial.
This comes in the wake statements from officials of the ruling party
who have been vilifying Mpinganjira on state radio and television
and an opposition newspaper that implied that the magistrate was
seeking instructions from government on how to conduct the trial.
"Tell the president and his officials not to comment on this case
otherwise anyone commenting on the case will be in contempt of
court," warned Kalembera.
As it was the case during his arrest on Boxing Day, thousands of
Mpinganjira's supporters camped outside the courtroom premises
chanting songs in his praise.
However, a contingent of heavily armed police officers drew a
human cordon, barring them from going hear the court.
All roads leading to the court were sealed off and anybody
entering the court premises was subjected to rigorous questioning
and body search.
More witnesses are expected to testify Friday when the case
Floods Destroy Crops in Southern Malawi
African Eye News Service (South
January 4, 2001
Over 500 peasant farmers in Malawi lost all their crops this week
when the Shire River broke its banks and flooded almost 200
hectares of maize fields, African Eye News Service (South Africa)
Malawi commissioner for disaster preparedness, Lucious Chikuni,
confirmed the flooding on Thursday but said relief operations had
been hampered by funding constraints.
"We need at least 5,000 metric tonnes of maize seed for farmers
to replant their crops. We need to move as quickly as possible to
prevent hunger in the future, but haven't yet received our budget
from government and are therefore hamstrung," said Chikuni.
No one was reported killed in the flooding, but scores of houses,
bridges and other infrastructure was destroyed, he added. At least
570 subsistence farmers were affected in the disaster in Malawi's
southern Chikwawa district on the country's border with
The Shire River, one of Malawi's largest, is a tributary of the
Zambezi and floods following heavy rains in its Blantyre and
Mwanza catchment areas.
Chikuni said Malawi's finance ministry was supposed to transfer
roughly R2 million to the disaster preparedness commission every
year but had failed to do so in 2000 and 2001 due to financial
"We now only get money when disasters strike. This is very
unfortunate, because it leaves us ill prepared for disasters and
make it impossible to respond immediately after tragedy strikes,"
State Witness Disappears in Corruption Case
Panafrican News Agency
January 5, 2001
By Raphael Tenthani
A legal drama ensued again Friday when Malawi's Director of
Public Prosecutions (DPP) Farhard Assani told a packed Blantyre
Magistrate's Court that one of his key witnesses had disappeared.
This followed Thursday's hearing when another key State witness
literally helped the case of sacked former senior Minister Brown
Mpinganjira accused of accepting bribes to favour a contractor.
Yusuf Ahmed Bobat, who is alleged to have bribed Mpinganjira
with 731 US dollars, stunned the court when he said the money
was actually a loan that has since been repaid.
At Friday's session when six more witnesses testified, DPP Assani
said contractor Charles Matsimbe, who allegedly got the money
from Bobat and therefore another key witness, has since
"Your worship, police went to his house in Mulanje this morning but
they were told he was in Blantyre. He wasn't found at either of his
two houses in Blantyre," the DPP added.
Assani said since the police have done all they could to bring
Matsimbe to court, he wanted to submit the witness' written
But Mpinganjira's lawyer, Ralph Kasambara, protested, saying
defence wanted to cross-examine him on some allegations he
made in the statement.
Presiding magistrate Silvester Kalembera ruled that the statement
could not be admitted on its own merit, and ordered the police
mount a hunt for Matsimbe's arrest.
If he is brought to testify, Matsimbe would be the last witness.
Among the 10 witnesses called by the DPP, were education
officials and police officers.
Mpinganjira is alleged to have accepted the bribe from Bobat to
facilitate his clinching of lucrative contracts from the Ministry of
Education where he was Minister.
Mpinganjira denies the charges, arguing that his arrest is political
and linked to his opposition to President Bakili Muluzi, who is
seeking a third term in office.
Malawi Constitution states that a President can only run for two
Judicial sources said Mpinganjira faces imprisonment of between
five to 12 years, if convicted.
Ruling Party Moots Third Term for Muluzi
Panafrican News Agency
January 5, 2001
Officials of Malawi's ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) have
begun stepping up a campaign for President Bakili Muluzi to run
for a third five-year term although the constitution prohibits the
The Malawi Constitution stipulates that a president can hold office
for only two five-year consecutive terms.
And by 2004, Muluzi would be ending his second five-year
consecutive constitutional term.
But, addressing a public rally in Blantyre alongside senior party
officials, MP Elywin Maluwa, of the UDF said party loyalists want
Muluzi to have another go at the presidency.
"Whether one likes it or not Muluzi is standing again in 2004
because that is what people want," he bragged.
Blantyre Mayor John Chikakwiya, also a ruling party member, said
it was imperative that Muluzi stand for a third term because he was
doing a "good job".
He called on senior officials of the party "to start seriously
discussing the issue".
"We should change the Constitution to allow Muluzi to stand
again," he suggested.
But estranged UDF MP, Peter Chupa, who was fired for supporting
sacked senior party official Brown Mpinganjira's opposition to the
third term issue, said while it might be true that Muluzi was a good
man, changing the Constitution to accommodate his wishes would
be setting a bad precedence.
"If we are saying Muluzi is a good man and we should therefore
doctor the Constitution to allow him another term, what will happen
if a bad man comes on the scene? Will we go back to change the
Constitution again to prevent him from running a further term?" he
queried in an interview with PANA.
Opposition parties have also frowned on the UDF campaign to
amend the Constitution for Muluzi.
Dan Msowoya, publicity secretary of the Alliance for Democracy or
AFORD, said allowing Muluzi a further term will be disastrous for
"This is how dictators are made. Dr (Hastings Kamuzu) Banda
originally never wanted to be life president until politicians pushed
him on. And what did we have? A ruthless dictator," he pointed
Msowoya lamented that since UDF uses the economic tactic of
buying vulnerable opposition MPs to vote in favour of its whims,
the third term issue may pass through Parliament.
He, however, said that the issue of the presidency is too crucial
that it does not have to be left in the hands of Parliament alone
but should be put to a referendum.
But leading constitutional lawyer Modecai Msisha said, to change
the Constitution to allow for a presidential third term does not
require a national referendum.
"A two-thirds majority is enough to allow for a change in the
Constitution to allow for a third term.
Only issues concern fundamental human rights require both a
two-thirds majority in Parliament and a referendum for a particular
section of the Constitution to be changed," he said.
Muluzi, who is now 57, has unofficially commented on the matter.
But Heatherwick Ntaba, treasurer general of the main opposition
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) said Muluzi is not unaware of what
his officials are saying.
"He is sending his minions to test the waters," he said.
Muluzi became Malawi's first democratically elected president in
1994 after taking over from the atavistic life- president Banda.
Biogas Use In Malawi Nears Implementation
Panafrican News Agency
January 7, 2001
Plans by the Malawi government to introduce biogas-generated
electricity using human and animal waste as an alternative source
of energy for the rural areas are at an advanced stage, the
environment ministry says.
It notes in a position paper that the project - whose main aim is to
save Malawi's thinning forests - will start in a pilot phase in two
districts chosen for their uniqueness.
For instance, forests in the southern district of Chikwawa were
heavily affected by thousands of refugees who fled the 16- year
civil war in neighbouring Mozambique, and have cleared several
hectares of forests to establish their settlements.
Likewise, the central district of Dowa is currently hosting a group
of refugees and asylum seekers from troubled spots in east and
Environmentalists say forests are the main casualties of the
sudden population pressures.
The ministry cited how the use of biogas has been proven
effective in Ghana and Botswana, saying the pilot projects will act
as demonstration centres which will later build technical capacity
for a lot of Malawians to be able to mass produce biogas.
The ministry says it hopes the successful implementation of biogas
use might cut down fuel wood consumption by at least 49 percent
from its current 90 percent.
"Apart from being environmentally friendly, the project would
considerably reduce over-dependence on trees for cooking," says
Under the pilot project, 40 households in the selected districts
inhabited by over 2,000 people plus other social centres will be
connected to a national grid, which will supply them with
Mixing human and animal excreta produces biogas. The human
wastes are collected from septic tanks or latrine and connected to
Officials at the ministry of environment also say communities will
be able to use biogas to drive machines in maize mills after the
project successfully takes off.
South African Investor Buys Stake in Malawi
Panafrican News Agency
January 8, 2001
One of South Africa's leading investors, United Alliance Media or
UAM, has bought an equity in one of Malawi's two commercial
radio stations, Capital FM.
Capital Radio Malawi Limited chairman Alaudin Osman said UAM's
involvement in his radio is a big boost to commercial broadcasting
in his country.
"It's a very good and positive development because in Malawi it is
very difficult for a business like ours to expand due to high bank
lending rates," he added.
Osman, who is also a presidential spokesman, started Capital FM
as a family business. He said UAM investment in the station will
result in improvement in technical performance of the fledgling
radio station and the establishment of another commercial radio
station, Youth FM, which is already established in South Africa as
Y FM, under UAM.
He said that the new commercial station would target the youth
while Capital FM will continue targeting the adult audience.
Capital FM, which started broadcasting in March 1998, is currently
negotiating with the Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority to
be allowed to broadcast nationally.
It currently only covers the urban centres of Blantyre and Lilongwe
an their immediate environs.
UAM chief executive Anthony Glass said in a statement UAM
investment in Capital FM was part of UAM's expansion programme
in radio and television broadcasts in Africa.
UAM hold stakes in Y FM in South Africa and Yorona FM in
Botswana. It has also secured further stakes in radio stations in
Tanzania and Uganda.
Osman refused to disclose financial implications of the UAM
investment. He nonetheless said the investment will involve
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