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  • Christine Chumbler
    Malawi minister wins court case By Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre The High Court in Blantyre has acquitted Dumbo Lemani, the flamboyant presidential affairs
    Message 1 of 1046 , Mar 12, 2001
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      Malawi minister wins
      court case

      By Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre

      The High Court in Blantyre has acquitted
      Dumbo Lemani, the flamboyant presidential
      affairs minister and trusted aide of President
      Bakili Muluzi, of contempt of court.

      Charges were brought
      against him and another
      senior ruling party
      leader by sacked former
      senior minister Brown
      Mpinganjira.

      Dressed in a black suit complete with a clerical
      collar, Dumbo Lemani arrived at the court room
      in style, clutching a gold-embossed Bible in one
      hand and waving to his supporters with the
      other.

      His co-accused Davis Kapito, the ruling United
      Democratic Front (UDF) southern region
      governor, who has been experiencing failing
      health lately, could not sit through the
      marathon one and a half hour judgement by
      presiding judge, Justice Frank Kapanda.

      The two were being accused of acting in
      contempt of court when their erstwhile
      brother-in-arms, Brown Mpinganjira, was
      answering an official corruption case at a lower
      court in January.

      Ruling

      Blantyre Principal Resident Magistrate Silvester
      Kalembera had issued a gag order, restraining
      anybody from making judgemental comments
      on the case.

      But the two continued
      castigating Mpinganjira
      regardless.

      However, Justice
      Kapanda told the
      packed courtroom, that
      Mpinganjira's lawyers -
      Ralph Kasambara and
      Viva Nyimba - had
      failed to prove
      contempt in the case.

      He said he doubted the
      authenticity of video tapes presented as
      evidence because the one who filmed it did not
      testify, creating a possibility that it could be
      faked.

      Immidiately after the ruling, Lemani jumped up
      in his seat and started chanting: "I am a free
      man now. I am a free man now."

      Celebration

      He was joined outside the court by a group of
      about about 100 singing and dancing women.

      He immediately climbed
      on board his
      convertible BMW and
      waved a flywhisk at
      them, in immitation of
      the late dictator
      Hastings Kamuzu
      Banda.

      He drove slowly to a
      site near the court
      where he told a group
      of his supporters that
      had he been convicted
      he would have started preaching in prison.

      "I was going to go in not as a minister but as a
      reverend to convert the prisoners to the Lord,"
      he said.

      However, he said, since he had been acquitted
      he was now going to throw his wieght behind
      the controversial push for President Muluzi to
      run for an unconstitutional third term of office.

      *****

      Ruling Party Wants MP Out

      Panafrican News Agency (Dakar)
      March 9, 2001
      Posted to the web March 9, 2001

      Raphael Tenthani,
      Blantyre, Malawi

      Malawi's ruling United Democratic Front (UDF), currently under
      pressure from a new opposition grouping, has asked one of its
      Members of Parliament to resign on suspicion that he was
      working in cahoots with the opposition.

      Bamani Zgambo, a legislator from the central district of
      Kasungu, told PANA Friday that UDF leaders in the central
      region had been haunding him with allegations that he is a mole
      of the new pressure group, National Democratic Alliance (NDA)
      of sacked former senior minister Brown Mpinganjira.

      He said trouble began when he attended an NDA rally in the
      northern city of Mzuzu.

      "Since that time my party does not want to have anything to do
      with me. When I went to ask what was going on, they asked me
      to resign," he said.

      Zgambo claimed some members of the UDF Young Democrats
      beat him up in Kasungu when he went to report the death of his
      son.

      Meanwhile, UDF central region chairman Uladi Mussa, who is
      also minister without portfolio, said Zgambo should quit the
      ruling party because he is double-faced.

      "He is a confused man. One day he is UDF, the next he is other
      things," Mussa said.

      According to Mussa, the UDF party would not miss Zgambo if he
      left. He, however, declined to comment on Zgambo's allegations
      that some UDF cadres beat him up, saying the beating was not
      sanctioned by the party politiburo.

      Zgambo went into Parliament on an opposition Malawi Congress
      Party ticket before he defected to the UDF saying the opposition
      had no leader.

      But after Mpinganjira formed NDA, he has been warming up to
      him as well.

      This is the second time the ruling party has haunded people
      believed to be Mpinganjira loyalists.

      Blantyre's MP, Nicholas Kachingwe, was twice assaulted by
      UDF supporters on suspicion that he was working with NDA.
      Kachingwe has denied the charge.

      *****

      NGO Uncovers Girl Trafficking Ring in
      Malawi

      Panafrican News Agency (Dakar)
      March 9, 2001
      Posted to the web March 9, 2001

      Raphael Tenthani
      Blantyre, Malawi

      Two civil rights groups have reported encountering stranded
      Malawian girls in at least five countries in the southern Africa
      region.

      Katherine Moyenda, executive director of a South Africa- based
      NGO, Women in Difficult Situations of WDS, said her
      organisation has identified up to 10 girls stranded in South Africa
      and Swaziland.

      She said that in all cases the girls approached police who
      referred them to WDS offices.

      She said the girls tell harrowing stories about how some
      business women lured them into South African and Swazi cities
      with promises that they will secure jobs as nannies or in
      restaurants and hotels.

      "When I visited Swaziland they told me they had been brought to
      Mbabane by a woman who told them a certain African restaurant
      was looking for women from the Southern African Development
      Community (SADC) region," Moyenda said.

      But Moyenda said when they reached the Swazi capital the girls
      were handed over to unknown people who forced them to work
      in unregistered brothels or homes.

      She said that since the girls are left without any money in
      strange countries they have no choice but to obey the orders.

      The 10 girls whose cases WDS is handling had fled their virtual
      captivity and approached the NGO for money to enable them
      return home.

      Similar incidents of girl trafficking were reported by the Media
      Association for Human Rights Advancement when its president,
      Thom Chiumia told PANA Friday that it was investigating some
      171 cases where Malawian girls were lured to Zambia,
      Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland.

      Officials of the association, who toured South Africa last month,
      said in a just-published report that they encountered girls from
      the southern Malawi districts of Mangochi, Machinga, Phalombe,
      Mwanza and Mulanje struggling to find their way home.

      Chiumia said while most of the girls who fell in this trap are
      illiterate, some of them were quite educated having gone up to
      O/Levels of education.

      "But because of our failing economy they cannot secure a job so
      this makes them a ready prey for unscrupulous business
      women who take advantage of their vulnerability to exploit them,"
      he said.

      Chiumia said some of the girls have already been deported to
      Malawi by South African authorities.

      These girls are now stranded in Malawian cities of Blantyre and
      Lilongwe, he said.

      "We are appealing to government to rehabilitate and empower
      these destitute girls," some of those who were departed are
      stranded in Blantyre and Lilongwe, he said.

      Police spokesman Oliver Soko confirmed that the police are
      aware of an organised ring of girl traffickers.

      He said the Malawi Police Service was collaborating with Interpol
      and the Southern Africa Region Police Chiefs Organisation to
      bust the ring, which admitted to an uphill task.

      He said the difficulty was that the girls found in such
      predicaments declined to report their problem fearing to suffer
      stigmatisation if they did so.

      Last year several Malawian girls were found in a number of
      European capitals stranded in brothels. Two women were
      arrested for trafficking the girls with promises that they be given
      jobs.

      One of the women has since been acquitted because the courts
      found out that the girls in question were already prostitutes when
      they were being lured to Europe and might have gone there
      willingly.

      *****







      WFP Rushes Food Aid to Flood Victims in
      Malawi

      Panafrican News Agency (Dakar)
      March 9, 2001
      Posted to the web March 9, 2001

      Dakar, Senegal

      In response to one of the worst natural disasters on record to hit
      Malawi, the World Food Programme Friday announced that it
      will start distributing emergency food to some 60,000 people
      stranded by torrential floods.

      "Tens of thousands of people who have fled to higher and dryer
      grounds have only managed to take enough food to sustain
      them for a few days," Adama Diop-Faye, WFP Country director
      for Malawi, said in a press release.

      "The number of Malawians displaced by the floods pounding the
      region is growing every day and we are moving in food as
      quickly as possible to prevent a humanitarian disaster," he
      added.

      Abnormally heavy rains have battered the southern African
      countries of Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe for the
      past several weeks, causing dams to overflow and rivers such
      as the Zambezi and Shire to burst their banks, destroying crops,
      inundating villages and demolishing houses, bridges, roads and
      railways throughout the region.

      WFP food assessment teams just returned from missions to
      the four most-affected districts of Nsanje and Chikwawa in the
      south, and Salima and Nkhotakota in central Malawi, reported
      that nearly 280,000 people have been negatively affected by the
      floods just in the four districts.

      Thirteen districts have been affected to some extent throughout
      the country.

      "Victims are in need of food aid, and non-food items such as
      blankets, plastic sheeting, cooking utensils, medicine and
      potable water," Diop-Faye said.

      Four years after the 1997 floods, Malawi is facing an even worse
      crisis, which has displaced more than 130,000 people from their
      homes to date.

      Many Malawians have sought shelter with relatives, while others
      have fled to public buildings with no access to food or potable
      water.

      While the Malawian government has been feeding flood victims
      through its Department of Disaster Preparedness Relief and
      Rehabilitation, its food stocks are quickly running dry.

      Vice President Justin Malewezi appealed to the donor
      community for 6.7 million US dollars of relief aid to assist
      360,000 people countrywide in the impoverished country of 11
      million people.

      WFP has stepped in at the request of the Malawian government
      in providing food relief assistance by borrowing some 560
      tonnes of food from other programmes in the country to feed the
      most needy 60,000 flood victims in Nsanje, Chikwawa and
      Salima districts.

      The agency is delivering food consisting of maize, beans and
      likuni phala - a maize soya blend for children under five - by
      road, boat and/or canoe.

      However, the 42,100 residents of Nsanje district's Makhanga
      and Makhokwe areas may receive food by army helicopter drops
      because they have been completely cut off by the floods.

      "We are pooling all of our resources and energy to assist these
      Malawians in their time of greatest need," Diop-Faye noted.

      The WFP immediate relief assistance, worth some 180,000
      dollars, will feed families for some three to four weeks while an
      expanded emergency flood operation is being prepared for the
      medium-term.

      *****

      UDF Forms Intelligence Group To Monitor
      Political Moles

      Panafrican News Agency (Dakar)
      March 11, 2001
      Posted to the web March 11, 2001

      Blantyre, Malawi

      The ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) said it has formed an
      intelligence unit to monitor allegiance of party officials following
      the formation of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)
      pressure group of Brown Mpinganjira, who was sacked from the
      government.

      UDF director general, Dumbo Lemani, who is also presidential
      affairs minister, told PANA Saturday that anybody - be they
      ministers or MPs - will be expelled from the UDF should they be
      found working with the NDA.

      "Our intelligence group is very powerful; you will be surprised
      with what we know," he said.

      Lemani was responding rumours that senior ministers and
      parliamentarians are secretly working with the NDA. He said
      those already discovered to be working with the pressure group
      would be expelled.

      Already two UDF MPs and a minister from Mpinganjira's home
      district of Mulanje are being watched, he said.

      Officers of a new intelligence unit, the National Intelligence
      Bureau (NIB), have been posted in a number of police stations
      across the country. NIB's role is not clearly defined but
      Secretary for the President and Cabinet, Alfred Upindi said there
      is nothing sinister about it.

      "Every government anywhere in the world has an intelligence
      gathering body," he said.

      Upindi said NIB replaced the Secret Intelligence Service that
      was within the Malawi Police Service.

      But observers say, like the defunct SIS, which the Malawi
      Congress Party used while in power to liquidate political
      opponents, the UDF is also using NIB to victimise political
      opponents.

      The local press has quoted police officers as saying NIB officials
      are abusing police property to spy on people.

      *****

      The village that has 'eaten itself limb by limb'

      HIV/Aids has had a devastating effect on a Zimbabwean village


      SCOTCH TAGWIREYI

      In Charumbira village in Masvingo province, Zimbabwe, Wednesday is a sacred
      day. According to custom, it is the chief's chosen day and no one is allowed to
      work in the fields or dig - unless it is a grave that's being dug. All women are to
      remain at home while the men gather under a barren fig tree to discuss matters
      arising in the village.

      However, this custom has changed over the past two years. Now every Wednesday,
      200 to 300 widows meet under the fig tree, to learn how to live with the HIV/Aids
      virus.

      The widows, whose husbands began dying of HIV/Aids in the late 1980s, have now
      come together to form a support group that will help them to cope with the impact of
      HIV/Aids. The group has been further divided into smaller groups of 30 to 40 women
      who meet regularly and visit each other to share their experiences or pay visits to the
      sick. The groups also help children with food and money for school, in families where
      both parents have died.

      Each group chooses three or four people to go for training, and on their return to
      impart their newly acquired knowledge about HIV/Aids and how to live with it.

      Although many women in the village have not been tested for HIV/Aids, most believe
      they are HIV-positive. Miriro Mukeda (30), whose husband died a few weeks ago,
      believes she is also infected. "I was still sleeping with Jacob when he fell sick, and
      unless there is some miracle, there is no doubt that I am infected with Aids as well."

      Another widow, Susan Charumbira (44), who lost her husband 12 years ago, says
      villagers have been avoiding talking about Aids. The cause of death is left to
      speculation. "People never wanted to talk about it, but my husband was HIV-positive,
      and I don't know how I have lived to this day. I thought I was going to die, and so was
      my child, who was then only one and half years. It is difficult to believe he is now
      finishing high school. However, I am getting sickly these days," she says, touching
      blisters on her face.

      According to Maget Madenga, also a
      widow, and one of the leaders and
      founders of the support group, the idea of
      a support group started in 1994, but
      could not take off because many widows
      feared to be associated with Aids and
      they refused to join. "It was only two
      years ago, after most of the men had
      died, that women started facing financial
      problems in sending children to school
      and feeding them, that many started
      turning to support groups."

      Aids has destroyed the economic base of the village and provoked changes in its
      social fabric. Mupazi Tsveta (76), one of the village elders, has lost four sons to the
      pandemic and now has to care for their four widows and children.

      "The village has eaten itself limb by limb and it is now hanging on the balance," he
      says. "Once the women start to die there will be no village to talk about anymore."

      It is difficult to establish how many people have succumbed to the pandemic in
      Charumbira. Tsveta stretches out his fingers, only to lose count after a few names,
      and all he can say is, "Pasi radya [the land has swallowed up countless villagers]."

      Chief Fortune Charumbira says all men who were between the ages of 20 and 45 in
      1990 have now died and most of them have left children and wives.

      A survey done by a local secondary school, Mudavanhu, shows that at least 18
      students in a class of more than 40 pupils have no fathers. "It was after we saw an
      increasing number of very bright pupils dropping out of school, missing lessons and
      losing concentration that we decided to look into the matter," says deputy principal
      Reason Tsvakiwa.

      Tsvakiwa says HIV/Aids is causing major disruptions in school. Children can no
      longer afford to pay school fees and as a result the school has resorted to
      fund-raising to keep its operations running.

      "Being a teacher has become more than classroom work. We have to ensure the
      school has minimum resources to continue operating. Sometimes teachers
      contribute from their own salaries to help children who come to school on an empty
      stomach."

      Ruth Banda is one such pupil. Banda, who is now turning 17, has been living with her
      brother Maxwell (18), who has just completed his O-levels, and her cousin Chipo
      (nine). Banda's mother died in 1985 and her father married his late wife's sister. In
      1992 he died and two years later his widow also died, leaving Ruth and Maxwell to
      look after Chipo.

      She is a sad young woman. When one mentions her parents, she weeps
      uncontrollably. A diary she has kept since 1999 relates her emotions.

      "I have no idea how I spend each day, I don't know where I get the energy to wake up
      every day and come to school. It must be just God's will that I continue to live. Life is
      difficult for me, Maxwell and Chipo. Only, if father did not marry Aunt Grace whom
      everyone knew was dying of Aids, he would have been alive today."

      Gerald Nyoka (14) lost his father a year ago, and his mother is very ill. Nyoka is
      always late for school because he has to prepare breakfast for his younger brother
      and sister, Togarepi (one) and Rumbidzai (nine). He also has to attend to chores.

      Charumbira clinic serves a population of about 10 000, and has very little to offer.
      Sister Agnes Mpofu, the clinic's only nurse, says villagers seldom come for HIV/Aids
      test. "It is only when people come asking for gloves and Jik that one can tell that
      there must be an Aids patient in the family. Many of the infected people are
      diagnosed where they work and they just come straight home to die."
    • Christine Chumbler
      ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17 The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22 8:06 AM
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        ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract

        by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17

        The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by government to look for another contractor instead of China Hunan Construction to construct of the long awaited Karonga/Chitipa road.

        China Hunan from Mainland China won the bid which was approved by the ADB but government later wanted to award the contract to a Portuguese firm, Mota Engil, the second lowest bidder, claiming China Hunan's bid was unrealistically low and that the company had very little experience in Africa.

        Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe confirmed on Sunday the ADB rejected the proposal at a meeting held between the bank and Malawi government in Tunisia last week.

        The Malawi government wanted the Tunisia meeting to authorise it to get another contractor for the road, said Gondwe.

        "They did not allow us to look for another contractor because of their regulations. But we are about to get another alternative for Karonga/Chitipa and I would be surprised if it does not start before end June," said Gondwe.

        The minister explained that the bank insisted that regardless of the unrealistic cost estimates, China Hunan should be allowed to go ahead with the construction.

        But Gondwe could not give further details about the alternatives, arguing there are still a few loose ends to tighten up before disclosing it.

        The problem with China Hunan, according to Gondwe, is that it would require more money to meet the total cost of the project.

        This paper reported last week that government met Taiwanese representatives where they offered to fund the road if the ADB continued to reject its favoured contractor, Mota Engil.

        Gondwe could neither confirm nor deny the reports on the Taiwanese offer, saying government was looking at a number of ways to handle the issue.

        According to Gondwe, the China Hunan's bid was 24 percent lower than the consulting engineers' estimates of K7.9 billion and 34 percent below the second lowest bidder.

        President Bingu wa Mutharika laid a foundation stone for the construction of the road this year ahead of a crucial byelection in Chitipa in December last year.

        The President's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the Chitipa Wenya constituency by-election that fell vacant following the collapse and subsequent death of Speaker of Parliament Rodwell Munyenyembe who belonged to the UDF.

        Last week, police and the District Commissioner (DC) for Chitipa stopped a rally that was aimed at soliciting people's views about development projects in the district.

        The meeting, which was reportedly organised by Concerned Citizens of Chitipa, was among other things also supposed to tackle the controversial Karonga/Chitipa road.

        The project failed to start off in 2000 when a contract for an initial loan of US$17 million and US$15 million from the Taiwanese government was signed, with some quarters claiming the Bakili Muluzi administration diverted the money to another road.

        *****

        Chihana operated on

        by Edwin Nyirongo, 22 May 2006 - 06:32:31

        Alliance for Democracy (Aford) president Chakufwa Chihana, who is in South Africa receiving treatment, had a brain operation on Friday at Garden City Clinic, family and party officials confirmed on Sunday.

        Aford national chairman Chipimpha Mughogho said he was told by the family members that Chihana had a successful operation on Friday and was put in an intensive care unit.

        Mughogho said Chihana, who initially complained of headache, was found with a brain tumour which South African doctors removed.

        Mzimba West MP Loveness Gondwe said Aford boss condition was stable.

        "Hon. Chihana had a major operation and after that he was put in the intensive care unit but his condition is stable. I do not know where he was operated on but it had something to do with the skull," she said.

        Deputy Information Minister John Bande referred the matter to the Health Minister Hetherwick Ntaba who was reported to be in Geneva, Switzerland.

        Aford publicity secretary Norman Nyirenda said when Chihana's situation got worse, the family alerted the Office of the President and Cabinet who took him to Mwaiwathu Private Hospital.

        "The doctors at Mwaiwathu advised that he should be sent to South Africa and they even identified the doctor for him," he said.

        He said the costs are being met by the Malawi government, contradicting his earlier statement that his boss covered the cost.

        Mughogho is now in charge of the party.

        Gondwe will be a busy person when Parliament starts meeting on June 6 as she is the only Aford MP remaining.

        *****

        Pillane proposes presidential age limit

        by Emmanuel Muwamba , 22 May 2006 - 06:34:13

        A member of the DPP National Governing Council Abdul Pillane on Saturday urged members of political parties and the civil society to put an upper age limit in the Constitution for presidential candidates.

        Pillane was addressing members of political parties and civil society in Liwonde during a two-day follow up workshop to the National Conference on the Review of Constitution held in March in Lilongwe.

        "My view is that (an upper) age limit should be at 75. We have to give a chance to younger people to lead because in circumstance, when you age you become forgetful especially when sickly," said Pillane. "Overall, chances should be given to young people."

        But UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala, whose party members agitated for the age limit during presentations, played the issue down.

        "I feel there is no logic to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates. If someone is 90 or 80 I don't know how that can influence the electorate not to vote for someone who is younger, I don't see any logic behind that," said Makwangwala.

        MCP participants at the workshop also vehemently objected to the proposal.

        MCP vice president Nicholas Dausi in an interview said: "There is no constitution in Africa which stipulates an upper age limit. So it would be strange in Malawi to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates."

        MDP President Kamlepo Kalua also opposed the need to have an upper age limit.

        "If we have personalities in mind that we want to discriminate against then it is unfortunate. The constitution we want to build is a guiding document for future generations and it should not bar certain individuals on the basis of grudges," he said.

        The Malawi Law Constitution Issues Paper of March 2006 says several submissions that were received put an upper presidential age limit in the Constitution.

        "It is argued that it is common sense that mental knowledge faculties tend to fail with age. As regards what the actual age limit should be the submissions are far from being agreed. The range is from 60 years to 80 years," read submissions in the Issues Paper.

        On whether MPs should double as ministers, Kalua said this should be the case.

        Makwangwala also said it is not right for MPs to serve as ministers because the Legislature, another arm of government, is reduced while the Executive branch is beefed up from another arm of government.

        "There is no separation of powers when MPs double as ministers," said Makwangwala.

        But Pillane said there is no problem for MPs to work as ministers as well, saying MPs are elected by the President.

        "One can serve both posts. There have been no problems before for people to double," said Pillane.

        The Centre for Multiparty Democracy funded the workshop through the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.

        The objective was to come up with a collective position on the Issues Paper which will be presented to the Special Law Commission that will be constituted soon.

        *****

        Mussa hails new driving licence

        by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:58:52

        Transport and Public Works Minister Henry Mussa last week said the design of the Malawi-Sadc driving licence would guard against forgery and ensure that only skilled and legitimate drivers of particular vehicles are licensed.

        Mussa was speaking at the official launch of the licences in Lilongwe where he announced that traffic police would from July enforce speed limits and sober driving using Breathalysers which his ministry is in the process of procuring.

        The minister said financial constraints are the reason for the delay in procuring the equipment but assured that by July they would be available.

        "With the new equipment, the days of those who believe in the thrill of drink and driving are numbered," warned Mussa.

        Mussa added that with the new licence, government is optimistic that the country's roads would be safe.

        Acting Director of Road Traffic James Chirwa said the features that distinguish the new from the old licences are the Malawi national flag and a ghost image of the driver's photograph, among others.

        Those with old licences, according to Chirwa, are expected to get the new ones after the expiry of the former.

        *****

        UDF demands investigation on Kasambara

        by Rabecca Theu, 22 May 2006 - 06:30:46

        The United Democratic Front (UDF) has asked government to investigate Ralph Kasambara on allegations of abuse of office while he was attorney general.

        UDF publicity secretary Sam Mpasu told the press Sunday that the party is neither amused or saddened by the removal of the former AG but asked government to institute investigations on Kasambara.

        "Beyond the removal of the Attorney General, we now urge President Mutharika to institute investigation against Mr Kasambara into allegations that have made rounds in the public domain during the recent past. These include: Mrs Helen Singh and SS Rent-a-Car; SGS and ITS saga; ...........the use of Malawi Police Service in the arrest of three Chronicle journalists and the handling of Mrs Rubina Kawonga," said Mpasu.

        Mpasu also accused Kasambara of awarding government contracts to Lawson and Company where he was a senior partner.

        "We urge government to thoroughly investigate the former AG. We also ask government to cautiously select the new AG ," said Mpasu, who was accompanied by the party's Secretary General Kennedy Makwangwala, leader of the party in Parliament George Mtafu, chief whip Leonard Mangulama and a member of the executive Hophmally Makande.

        But Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati said UDF should give offer its advice to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB).

        "They should advise bodies like the Anti-Corruption Bureau to conduct the investigations and why are they saying this now? Is it because Kasambara has been fired? This is not a personal issue. If they have other pressing issues they should just say so. These arguments should have come up earlier on when the said cases were happening," she said.

        Kasambara asked UDF to proceed with the mission of urging government to investigate him.

        "They can do their job. Everyone has a right to lobby for anything they want in the country. UDF has a right to do that, let them go ahead," he said.

        Kasambara was relieved of his duties as AG by the President last week. Government has not given reasons behind the removal.

        *****

        Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land

        The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

        May 18, 2006

        Posted to the web May 19, 2006

        Andrew Lungu

         

        MALAWIANS who have encroached on both the 'no-man's' and part of the Zambian land at the Mwami border in Eastern Province have plucked out some beacons that were used in the demarcation of the border.

        The Malawians are now using the beacons as stools in their newly-established villages on Zambian land.

        Eastern Province Minister, Boniface Nkhata, said in Chipata yesterday that if the situation was not controlled urgently, Zambia would lose huge tracts of land to Malawians migrating into Zambian in large numbers.

        A check at the Zambia-Malawi border showed a number of beacons had been vandalised and new structures constructed on the 'no man's' land and a large portion of Zambian land.

        Mr Nkhata said the trend extended to many parts of the province bordering the two countries.

        "A large portion of Zambian land has been taken up by the Malawians starting from the Chama boundary up to the Mwami border.

        "The weighbridge at the Mwami border was initially in Zambia from the time both countries gained independence from Britain, but now the bridge is on Malawian soil," Mr Nkhata said.

        The minister, who is former Chama District Commissioner, said there was similar encroachment in Lundazi and Chama districts where Zambia shares a boundary with Malawi.

        He said a Malawian farmer identified as Mr Mfune had cultivated 71.5 hectares on Zambian land and employed about 265 Malawian workers.

        "Khombe Farm in Chama district in Kanyerere's area, along the Muyombe road which leads to Northern Province where this Malawian farmer has cultivated a vast land is on the Zambian territory," he said.

        Workers on the farm admitted that they were farming on Zambian soil but could not go back to Malawi because the land in that country was inadequate for cultivation.

        Mr Nkhata appealed to the ministry of Lands to urgently release money for the demarcation of the Zambia-Malawi border to avoid further land disputes between the two countries.

        Meanwhile, the Immigration Department in Livingstone has arrested a couple and another man, all Zimbabweans, for working in Zambia without permits.

        They were arrested at Gwembe village yesterday where they worked for Into Africa, a tour operating company that provides bush dinners and breakfast.

        According to the Immigration Department in Livingstone, the trio entered Zambia through the Victoria Falls border as visitors but decided to work for the company illegally.

        Last week, immigration officers arrested 10 Zimbabwean traders and six Ethiopians for entering and staying in Zambia illegally.

        The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.

        The Ethiopians were arrested at Konje Guest House when they ran out of money to proceed to Botswana.

         

        *****

        Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests

        Harare, Zimbabwe

        22 May 2006 11:51

        Zimbabwe's biggest labour federation on Saturday threatened to call massive demonstrations against the government over poor salaries and worsening living conditions for workers in the country.

        The threats are ratcheting up pressure against President Robert Mugabe's government after similar threats by the biggest opposition party in the country, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), about two months ago.

        Speaking at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) conference on Saturday, the labour body's president, Lovemore Matombo, said the powerful union wants the government to award workers salaries that match the country's ever-rising inflation.

        "I can assure you we will stage massive demonstrations to force them [employers] to award workers minimum salaries that tally with the poverty datum line," said Matombo.

        Matombo did not say when exactly the ZCTU would order workers to strike.

        Opposition protests

        Meanwhile, the MDC on Sunday said it will push ahead with plans for anti-government protests, saying victory in a key by-election at the weekend was a "sign the electorate supported its policies", including democratic mass resistance.

        A spokesperson of the main faction of the splintered MDC, Nelson Chamisa, said victory over Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF and a rival MDC faction in a Saturday by-election in Harare's Budiriro constituency is a sign Zimbabweans still have confidence in party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his policies.

        Tsvangirai, the founding leader of the MDC, heads the main rump of the opposition party whose candidate, Emmanuel Chisvuure, polled 7 949 votes to win the Budiriro House of Assembly seat.

        Gabriel Chaibva of the other faction of the MDC, led by prominent academic Arthur Mutambara, garnered 504 votes while Zanu-PF's Jeremiah Bvirindi polled 3 961 votes.

        "This election showed that the electorate still has confidence in the MDC [Tsvangirai-led] leadership and its policies," Chamisa told independent news service ZimOnline.

        He added: "We will now move to consolidate our position * we still believe in mass protests. Until we have attained our goals we see no reason why we should abandon [plans for protests]."

        Tsvangirai has threatened to call mass protests this winter against Mugabe and his government. He says the mass protests, whose date he is still to name, are meant to force Mugabe to relinquish power to a government of national unity to be tasked to write a new and democratic Constitution that would ensure free and fair elections held under international supervision.

        Mugabe and his government, who had hoped for victory in Budiriro to show they were recapturing urban support from a splintered MDC, have not taken idly the opposition's threats to call mass protests, with the veteran president warning Tsvangirai he would be "dicing with death" if he ever attempted to instigate a Ukraine-style popular revolt in Zimbabwe.

        Crackdown

        In a fresh crackdown against dissension, the police last week arrested several church and civic leaders for organising public prayers and marches to mark last year's controversial home-demolition exercise by the government.

        The police also banned the marches and prayers, fearing they could easily turn into mass protests against Mugabe and his government.

        However, the marches went ahead in the second-largest city of Bulawayo after organisers had obtained a court order barring the police from stopping the march.

        Political analysts say although Zimbabweans have largely been cowed by Mugabe's tactics of routinely deploying riot police and the military to crush street protests, worsening hunger and poverty are fanning public anger that Tsvangirai -- with proper planning and organisation -- could easily manipulate.

        Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe six-year old economic crisis that has seen inflation breaching the 1 000% barrier. Last year, the World Bank said Zimbabwe's economic crisis was unprecedented for a country not at war.

        The MDC and major Western governments blame Mugabe for wrecking the country's economy, which was one of the strongest in Africa at independence from Britain 26 years ago.

        Mugabe denies the charge blaming the crisis on sabotage by Britain and her allies after he seized white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks six years ago.

        The Harare authorities recently hiked salaries for civil servants, with the lowest-paid soldier now earning about Z$27-million while the lowest-paid school teacher now takes home about Z$33-million.

        But the salaries are still way below the poverty datum line, which the government's Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says now stands at a staggering Z$42-million a month for an average family of six.

        The Zimbabwe government often accuses the ZCTU, a strong ally of the MDC, of pushing a political agenda to remove Mugabe from power.

        Meanwhile, Matombo and Lucia Matibenga retained their posts as president and first vice-president respectively during the ZCTU congress that ended on Saturday. -- ZimOnline

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