- Groups Gang Up Against Moves To Change
Panafrican News Agency
January 8, 2001
A group of church leaders, trade unionists and civil rights
NGOs in Malawi Monday resolved during a meeting in
Lilongwe to lobby Parliament to block constitutional
amendments that would enable President Bakili Muluzi to
serve for a further term and abolish the Senate.
Speaker after speaker decried what they termed as the
"raping of the Constitution" to save whims of the ruling elite.
In a particularly emotional speech, Bishop Patrick Kalilombe
of the Roman Catholic Church wondered how Malawian
politicians have what he termed as a short memory.
Kalilombe, who was forced into exile for his opposition to the
autocratic regime of the late Kamuzu Banda, said
constitutional amendments to suit particular politician's
wishes led to the creation of a dictator in the country.
"If we allow to be dragged back to the past, I will be the first
one to curse you," he added.
While the bishop was spiritual in his opposition to the
proposed constitutional amendments, Kamlepo Kalua - the
leader the small opposition Malawi Democratic Party - was
He called on Malawians to demonstrate in the streets and
abandon work to show their opposition to the proposed
"Malawians are tired of being swayed to dance to the wishes
of a few people," he said.
Although the president has not officially commented on the
third term issue, his top lieutenants have stepped up their
campaign. They allege that Muluzi is a good man and there
is nobody in the party who can replace him.
The issue has already led to a split in the ruling party.
Monday's meeting - organised by the Catholic Commission
for Justice and Peace - resolved to lobby Parliament against
changing the Constitution willy-nilly.
On the issue of abolishing the Senate, which has power to
impeach the president, one NGO - the Malawi Institute for
Democratic and Economic Affairs, vowed to take the issue
The Senate itself, which would have included traditional
leaders and lawyers, is yet to be set up. It was supposed to
be established within 60 days after local government
elections were held.
Cholera Epidemic Spreads to Malawi
African Eye News Service (South
January 8, 2001
The regional cholera epidemic spread to southern Malawi at
the weekend where 40 Blantyre residents were admitted to
hospital with severe diarrhoea.
The outbreak follows the death of at least 110 people and
infection of 15 000 others in neighbouring Mozambique,
South Africa and Swaziland.
Blantyre City Medical Services Director Lycester Bandawe
said on Monday that recent flooding and growing sanitation
problems in the country's southern Chikwawa and Nsanje
districts appeared to have caused the outbreak.
"We are currently treating roughly 40 suspected cholera
cases in the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre
after flooding on the Shire River two weeks ago," said
Bandawe's announcement coincided with the release of
Malawi's National Statistical Office (NSO) report on Monday
warning that almost 22 percent or two million of the country's
residents have no access to proper sanitation or sewerage
NSO said in its Malawi Population and Housing Census that
22 percent of the country's 9,9 million residents are at threat
from life threatening diseases because of chronic sanitation
The report claims that two million Malawians don't have
access to toilets, while 7,2 million other residents use pit
latrines. The pit latrines are, however, hazardous and
contribute to the spread of water borne diseases.
"Some of the pit latrines are shallow, poorly constructed and
collapse when it rains heavily -- resulting in the contents of
such latrines permeating into rivers and wells where
unsuspecting people fetch untreated water for drinking," said
He added that Blantyre's city council, the country's health
ministry and various health non-governmental organisations
launched an intensive anti-cholera campaign before the rainy
season started in November.
"Our primary focus is educational, using chiefs and social
groups to stress that all well or river water should be treated,
that all food should be washed and that people should wash
their hands and be hygienic," said Bandawe.
The NSO's latest census report indicates that at least 2,5
million Malawians, or 25 percent of the population, draw their
drinking water from unprotected wells.
Cholera outbreaks in South Africa have killed at least 60
rural villagers and infected roughly 13 000 others primarily in
KwaZulu Natal, but also in the Mpumalanga and Gauteng
provinces. The epidemic, which hit South Africa in August,
has subsequently spread to Swaziland where it has killed
eight people and to Mozambique where it has killed roughly
50 people and infected 2 400 others in the capital Maputo
alone. - African Eye News Service
Top judge lashes ‘lawless’
OWN CORRESPONDENT, Johannesburg | Tuesday
ZIMBABWEAN Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay has publicly
rebuked Robert Mugabe's government for "harassment" of
Zimbabwe's judiciary, saying the state had a basic
misunderstanding of the rule of law.
In his customary remarks at the opening of the legal year - his
only speech outside the confines of legal cases put before him -
the 69-year-old jurist denounced the authorities' refusal, on
Mugabe's orders, to enforce repeated judicial rulings for action to
end ongoing violence by ruling Zanu PF party activists.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Home Affairs Minister
John Nkomo were conspicuously absent from the ceremony,
which was attended by 11 of Zimbabwe's 27 judges at the High
Court, acting German ambassador Werner Kohler and heads of
the legal profession.
Four of Zimbabwe's six white judges were present among the
Gubbay said judges' orders demanding an end to lawlessness
were "not to prevent the government from pursuing land
resettlement. This has never been the aim or policy of the courts,
which unhesitatingly accept that the past inequities in the
distribution of land must be redressed urgently," he said.
"But the most disturbing conduct has been harassment of the
High Court and Supreme Court judges by war veterans and their
followers. Judges should not be made to feel apprehensive for
their personal safety."
Militants claiming to be ex-guerrillas from the 1972-80
independence war in former Rhodesia stormed the Supreme
Courtroom on November 24 just before a scheduled hearing of a
constitutional test case on the rights of invaded farmers.
"Disappointingly, there was no official condemnation of the
incident, not a word was heard from the Minister of Justice," said
the Chief Justice.
Diplomats felt the speech by the internationally-respected
Gubbay may increase pressure on Mugabe by President Thabo
Mbeki of South Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and UN
secretary General Kofi Annan to restore the rule of law, and
accept a plan proposed by UN Development Programme experts
for land reforms that will safeguard white farmers' rights and
attract international donor funding.
Gubbay and the other four members of the Supreme Court,
Zimbabwe's highest tribunal, are due January 19 to hear another
crucial test case in which MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai is
contesting Mugabe's attempt to bar investigation of corruption and
gross malpractice during last June's general election.
Zimbabwe 'vote buying'
By Joseph Winter in Harare
A row over vote buying has developed in
Zimbabwe ahead of a by-election this
The ruling Zanu-PF party is trying to win back
the Bikita-West seat in the south-east of the
country from the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).
On Sunday, the government announced that
90,000 hectares of land would be redistributed
in Bikita, and that 3m Zimbabwean dollars (just
over $50,000) would be handed out in the area
for income generating projects.
MDC Secretary-General Welshman Ncube
expressed outrage at what he called "blatant
Cash for votes?
He accused the Zanu-PF government of using
state resources to boost its campaign and said
it was unfair for it to pour funds into an area
during an election.
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo dismissed
these allegations as untrue.
He argued that it was the job of the
government to develop the country and this is
what it was doing.
Test of support
In the general election, last June, the MDC
won the seat by a few hundred votes but the
MP has since died, causing the by-election.
of power will not be
affected by whoever
wins, both Zanu-PF
and the MDC are taking
it extremely seriously,
as it will be seen as a
gauge of which party is
making ground in the
crucial rural areas.
More than just verbal
blows have been exchanged between
supporters of the two parties.
Clashes have left one Zanu-PF activist dead,
and the MDC say that its members have been
attacked by Zanu-PF supporters.
Youths to be sent in
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai told a party rally
on Monday that Zanu-PF had unleashed a
reign of terror on his supporters.
"We are going to deploy about 20,000 youths
to protect our parents who have fled their
homes and sought refuge in the hills," he said.
Zanu-PF said it was shocked by this
announcement, saying that the MDC was
Zanu-PF, which has ruled Zimbabwe since
independence in 1980, narrowly defeated the
MDC in June. The MDC won an unprecedented
57 of 120 parliamentary seats.
At least 31 people, most of them MDC
supporters, were killed in the run-up to the
The violence came amid an invasion of
hundreds of mostly white-owned farms by
supporters of President Robert Mugabe.
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