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  • Christine Chumbler
    Rival Muslim Leaders Fight Over New Opposition Group Panafrican News Agency May 23, 2001 Posted to the web May 23, 2001 Raphael Tenthani Blantyre, Malawi There
    Message 1 of 1046 , May 23, 2001
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      Rival Muslim Leaders Fight Over New
      Opposition Group

      Panafrican News Agency
      May 23, 2001
      Posted to the web May 23, 2001

      Raphael Tenthani
      Blantyre, Malawi

      There is a bitter struggle between two influential Muslim leaders
      over the involvement by one of them with an opposition group,
      the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) of former minister
      Brown Mpinganjira.

      Sheik Alhaj Alin Likonde, chairman of the Kadriya Muslim
      Association, accused Sheik Abdul Hamid Bughdad el-Banna,
      an influential Muslim cleric, of abandoning Islamic teachings to
      embrace opposition politics under the NDA banner.

      Likonde said that Banna - who has his base in President Bakili
      Muluzi's home village of Ntaja in the southern district of
      Machinga - is being used by the NDA to lure Muslims into
      joining the NDA.

      "Sheik Bughdad is a confusionist," he said.

      Likonde said that Banna is pitting Muslims against Muluzi by
      telling them that despite being a Muslim himself, the president
      has done little to raise the profile of Muslims and Islam in
      Malawi.

      He also alleged that Banna solicited money from Muslims for
      the NDA. Banna, while admitting his association with the NDA,
      told PANA Wednesday that he, as chairman of the Sunni
      Muslim Supreme Council, was the rightful leader of Muslims in
      his area and the Kadriya sect.

      "I was elected by 25 sheiks and Muslim clerics to lead them.
      When I openly disagreed with President Muluzi on policy
      matters, the president used his political and financial muscle to
      elevate his protege, Sheik Alin Likonde," he said.

      Banna said he planned to meet the president to discuss the
      fallout. He said as a Muslim cleric he would meet the president
      to tell him of the plight of Muslims in his home district in
      particular, and the country in general.

      On allegations that he collected money from other Muslims for
      the NDA, Banna said it was actually Muslims from three villages
      who approached him to assist them in building a new mosque.

      "They wanted me to help them build a mosque so I said, 'Let's
      collect money amongst ourselves'", he added.

      Banna said his association with the NDA was his democratic
      right as a Malawian.

      The Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM), an umbrella group for
      all Muslim sects in Malawi, has thrown its weight behind
      Likonde.

      MAM Secretary General Ronald Mangani said the association
      recognised Likonde as the legitimate leader of the Kadriya
      sect.

      "It's unfortunate if indeed Sheik Bughdad is associating in
      politics because Islam demands of its clerics to stay
      non-partisan in political matters," he said.

      *****

      Student Arrested For Stabbing Fellow
      Students

      Panafrican News Agency
      May 23, 2001
      Posted to the web May 23, 2001

      Raphael Tenthani
      Blantyre, Malawi

      Police in the central district of Dedza have arrested a student
      who stabbed fellow students Tuesday during a dispute.

      According to Dedza police chief Agnes Namacha the student,
      identified as 22-year-old Mathews Khonje, ran riot after
      quarrelling with students in a lower class.

      Khonje is repeating the last year of secondary school known as
      Form IV. The students he quarrelled with were in Form III.

      Sources told PANA that Khonje used to bully and tease junior
      students in the last academic year, that his return to repeat the
      class caused fear among the juniors.

      The junior students then decided to organise themselves to
      beat up Khonje in revenge for the bullying. After a bitter fistfight
      and outnumbered, Khonje sneaked out of the school premises
      to buy a knife and a catapult.

      He returned to confront the junior students, stabbing three of
      them seriously. The stabbed students bled so profusely that
      they had to be admitted at Dedza District Hospital, Namacha
      said.

      She added that Khonje has since been charged with
      aggressive conduct and causing bodily harm, a charge which -
      if convicted - could send him to jail for up to a year.

      There is tension at the school as the other students want to
      avenge for their hospitalised friends.

      Teachers, who are calling for restraint, are refusing to teach in
      fear of their safety.

      A senior education official, Jeremiah Kankuza, was dispatched
      to the school to restore calm.

      *****

      Solar Eclipse Committee Accuses
      Government of Stalling

      Panafrican News Agency
      May 23, 2001
      Posted to the web May 23, 2001

      Raphael Tenthani
      Blantyre, Malawi

      A Malawi committee to promote the first millennium solar eclipse
      on 21 June has issued an ultimatum to government, accusing it
      of lack of commitment for what has been billed as both a
      national and international event.

      Malawi will experience a full eclipse at the mosquito- infested
      and floods-damaged small trading post of Marka in Nsanje
      district, bordering Mozambique, 207-km from Blantyre.

      Marka, its little and poor infrastructure devastated by recent
      floods and lacking sanitation and clean water, can only be
      reached by road after six hours of gruelling driving in
      four-wheel vehicles through a potholed and an unpaved road,
      a legacy of neglect by the current regime.

      "Our major concern is the fact that there is no perceivable or
      tangible commitment from government. We are unable to
      kick-start this major event because it will involve bringing
      together services from the government," the Solar Eclipse
      Committee's ultimatum said after a crucial meeting failed to take
      place in Blantyre.

      The committee, which said it wanted a government response
      before Friday "because time is against us," was set up in March
      and comprises six ministries, led by the ministry of tourism,
      parks and wildlife, and the private sector.

      Only junior officials from the ministries of tourism and foreign
      affairs showed up at the meeting, which angered members from
      the private sector who demanded government's stance on the
      issue.

      "We would like to find out whether it would be worthwhile to
      proceed with spending time and resources in arranging for the
      event at a national level," the ultimatum read.

      Malawi was hoping to cash in on a potential two million US
      dollars which would be generated by tourists seeking to see the
      total eclipse at its very start.

      But Victor Chavula, a representative of the Kenyan Airways
      who sits on the committee and signed the ultimatum, told PANA
      "taking tourists to Marka will be a nightmare."

      The 30-km road from Nsanje Town to Marka will need to be
      gravelled, an aerodrome for small aircraft to land at Nsanje
      upgraded, clean water and sanitation facilities brought to the
      area.

      "We don't want to embarrass ourselves and there appears to
      be no sign that government will be doing these things before 21
      June," Chavula noted.

      He said his airline was looking at the possibility of channelling
      clients from Zambia, where facilities and air travel have been
      fully booked for the solar eclipse, to Malawi.

      "This is a rare phenomenon happening once every 300
      hundred years and the nation can take advantage as other
      countries within the region have done. It will not only bring in
      revenue, but can serve as a forum to market the country to
      prospective tourists."

      A government official said just gravelling the 30-km stretch
      would require only 120,000 kwacha (1,500 US dollars).

      An official from the tourism ministry acknowledged that
      "government has really failed to prepare adequately for this
      event. We should have started three years ago."

      *****

      'War vets' leader
      guarded in hospital

      Hunzvi: Thought to have cerebral malaria
      The leader of Zimbabwe's self-styled war
      veterans, Chenjerai Hunzvi, is being guarded in
      hospital as he recovers from an illness.

      A local independent newspaper reported on
      Wednesday that Mr Hunzvi collapsed on
      Monday in a hotel in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's
      second city.

      The newspaper said that he is suffering from
      "suspected cerebral malaria".

      Mr Hunzvi was the man who led the farm
      invasions last year that created political
      turmoil in Zimbabwe.

      He is also an MP but was not appointed to the
      cabinet by President Robert Mugabe.

      No entry

      When a journalist tried to visit Mr Hunzvi he
      was barred from entering by a war veteran
      dressed in a military type uniform.

      Another source said
      that there were 10 war
      veterans guarding Mr
      Hunzvi's room.

      A doctor looking after
      Mr Hunzvi refused to
      disclose the exact
      nature of his illness but
      did say that his health
      was improving.

      Reports say that Mr
      Hunzvi, 51, collapsed
      after a whirlwind
      political tour during which he held a number of
      meetings with war veterans.
    • Christine Chumbler
      ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17 The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22, 2006
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        ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        Chihana operated on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Mughogho is now in charge of the party.

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

        *****

        Pillane proposes presidential age limit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        Mussa hails new driving licence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        UDF demands investigation on Kasambara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land

        The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

        May 18, 2006

        Posted to the web May 19, 2006

        Andrew Lungu

         

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.

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

         

        *****

        Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests

        Harare, Zimbabwe

        22 May 2006 11:51

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

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

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

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

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

        Opposition protests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Crackdown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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