- Malawi's Champion For Disabled Rights Dies
African Eye News Service
January 10, 2001
Malawi's fiercest political rivals united in a rare show of solidarity
on Wednesday to mourn the death of the country's champion for
Minister in the President's Office George Claver died unexpectedly
on Monday while campaigning for the economic rights of rural
disabled people in the northern city of Mzuzu.
Claver, himself physically disabled, single-handedly spearheaded
the battle for recognition of economic and human rights for the
disabled since being appointed to cabinet two years ago.
He was co-opted into government after waging a series of
high-profile and highly critical campaigns against Malawi's
treatment of the disabled.
His legacy includes the banishing of discriminatory language, such
as cripple, lame and idiot, from government documentation.
President Bakili Muluzi's office said on Wednesday Claver was
hospitalised at Mzuzu Hospital on Sunday after attending a rally to
launch an economic empowerment scheme for local disabled
Officials declined to comment on the causes of death, but local
newspapers noted that Claver was known to suffer from high blood
The outspoken politician will be buried with full State honours in
Malawi's commercial capital Blantyre on Thursday following a
memorial service attended by President Muluzi, and the presidents
of the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF), opposition Malawi
Congress Party (MCP) and Alliance for Democracy (AFORD).
Claver is survived by his wife. - African Eye News Service
Malawi bids to avoid land
BRIAN LIGOMEKA, Blantyre | Thursday
MALAWI has purchased its first 244 hectares of land for an
ambitious US$25m land resettlement programme in an attempt to
avert Zimbabwe-style land invasions.
Land minister Thengo Maloya said the two lakeside estates in
Malawi's southern Mangochi district would help relieve mounting
pressure for agricultural land by an estimated 21 000 landless
Maloya stressed, however, that the purchase was only a fraction
of the 15 000 hectares needed to create food security for the
country's rural poor.
An estimated 1,4 million hectares of commercial-grade
agricultural land currently lies fallow but the largely absentee
landlords are, Maloya said, reluctant to sell or lease.
"Peasants are starving and cannot understand why they cannot
farm on land that stands unused," said Maloya. "A presidential
commission pointed out the need for a formal and pro-active land
reform programme. We plan to buy or expropriate the necessary
land, but need roughly US$25m for the programme."
Foreign donors have already been approached for the funding, but
government is struggling to secure commitments without
legislating regulations to steer the programme and protect
The presidential commission warned that only unutilised
agricultural land should be targeted for resettlement and
recommended that government negotiate market related values
Maloya warned, however, that the negotiation process and linked
legislative processes were slow and often frustrated hunger or
Roughly 60% of Malawi's 10 million people do not currently own
or enjoy guaranteed access to land.
Maloya declined to compare the situation to recent disastrous
land invasions in neighbouring Zimbabwe, but acknowledged that
"the land issue could easily become a breeding place for
violence" if neglected.
Malawi's most fertile land is concentrated in the tea and coffee
growing areas of the south, and is still largely owned by foreign or
expatriate companies and estates.
Politicians and prosperous individual Malawians own almost all
the fertile alluvial land in central Malawi, where the country's large
tobacco crop is grown.
The nation's estimated 2,5 million subsistence farmers eke out a
living in the country's drought prone northern and far western
Subsistence farmers account, Maloya said, for roughly 78% of
the country's three million economically active citizens. - African
Eye News Service
Elephant Tramples U.S. Tourist
By Rodrique Ngowi
Associated Press Writer
Thursday, Jan. 11, 2001; 9:16 a.m. EST
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania ** An American woman was trampled to
death by an elephant in a Tanzanian national park after it became enraged
by the clicking sounds of her camera, officials said Thursday.
Natalie Waldinger, 24, of Huntington, N.Y., died Sunday in Ruaha National
Park in central Tanzania, during a break in her tour as a U.S. Peace Corps
volunteer teacher in this East African nation.
Waldinger and an unidentified American female left their car to photograph
the wild animal, said Lota Melamari, chief of the Tanzania National Parks
Authority. The pair was traveling with a driver * who was not an official
The sound of metallic clicks from their cameras enraged the elephant,
which charged the two, Melamari told The Associated Press.
Waldinger's friend scrambled to safety only to watch as the elephant
trampled the 24-year-old woman to death. Waldinger, who had been in the
country since 1999, died in the park. Her friend was badly shaken, but
uninjured, Melamari said.
"It is a tragic incident, and we extend condolences to members of her
family," Tourism Minister Zakia Meghji said. "People seem to forget that
animals in our national parks are wild and are not in a zoo. Contact with
tourists ... has not tamed these animals at all and their behavior remains
Waldinger's body was flown to the United States on Wednesday after a
memorial service at the residence of the American ambassador to
"Natalie was an exemplary volunteer, a teacher well loved by her students
and a person committed to humanitarian work," Gale Metcalf, U.S. Peace
Corps director for Tanzania, said.
A funeral service will be held Tuesday in Huntington.
The deadly attack is the first of its kind in the Ruaha park, which boasts a
large number of elephants, wildlife officials said.
"We have sent a team to investigate why the incident happened and how
similar tragedies could be prevented in the future," Melamari said.
Night Floods Sweep Away Whole Family In
Panafrican News Agency
January 10, 2001
Reports are trickling in from a remote corner of northern Malawi to
the effect that weekend night floods swept away all members of a
family while in their sleep.
According to Keverton Chihana, a clerical officer in the Rumphi
District Chief Executive's office, a mother and her four children
were swept away by floods following heavy floods that also
flattened several houses at a small town of Phwezi in the northern
mountainous district of Rumphi.
"Lungazi River bust its banks after heavy rains that had been
falling here since Thursday," he told PANA in a telephone
Chihana said there are no bridges on the main road that connects
Rumphi with the northern city of Mzuzu below which the river
passes. Instead of bridges there are small culverts.
He said new settlers upland had cut down trees to create a
"On the day of the tragedy the river brought with it huge logs of
trees and rocks which blocked the culverts, forcing the water to
flood the business centre, submerging a number of grocery shops
and houses," he said.
Nothern region police commissioner Emmanuel Chakunkhulira
said although the floods found them sleeping, most people ran
helter-skelter to upland leaving behind most of their property.
But one family was overwhelmed by the floods, he said.
The father of the household, a secondary school teacher, was
away from the house when the disaster struck. But his wife - also a
teacher - and four children, including a five-month-old baby, were
swept away by the rushing water.
However, one child survived the floods by holding on to a shelf.
Reports say after realising four of her kids had been swept away,
the mother put the three-year-old boy on a shelf and sternly told
the toddler not to move until help comes while she tried to save
the other kids.
The heroic mother was, however, herself swept away before she
could save her children.
Chihana, who described the accident as tragic, said despite
desperate search parties comprising police and locals, the five
bodies have not been recovered yet.
"Today (Wednesday), we have sent shovels to try to dig up some
sandy beaches in case they are buried there," he said.
Lungazi River pours its waters into South Rukuru, a tributary of
According to officials from the Department of the Commissioner for
Disaster Preparedness, over 30 families were rendered homeless
after the floods.
The department has since provided them with relief items like
plastic sheets for temporary tents, blanket and food items.
Mchenga Coal Mine management, which is based in the district,
also provided blankets to the flood victims and members of the
search parties because since the search began some of the
searchers have been sleeping in the open woods.
Meanwhile, over 500 local farmers in the Lower Shire Valley in
southern Malawi have lost all their crops after the Shire River
broke its banks and flooded almost 200 hectares of maize fields.
Commissioner for Disaster Preparedness, Relief and
Rehabilitation Lucius Chikuni said the department will require at
least 5,000 metric tonnes of maize seed for farmers to replant their
No one was reported killed in the Shire River incident but scores of
houses, bridges and other infrastructure were destroyed.
"We need to move as quickly as possible to prevent hunger in the
future. But we haven't yet received funds for our budget from
government. We are currently hamstrung," Chikuni said.
Shire River, Malawi's largest, is a tributary of the Zambezi. It
flooded after heavy rains engulfed Blantyre and Mwanza districts,
catchment areas for the Shire which also hosts the country's four
hydroelectric power stations.
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