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  • Christine Chumbler
    Malawi minister backs third term plan The minister of presidential affairs in Malawi, Dumbo Lemani, has defended what he called the democratic right of the
    Message 1 of 1046 , Nov 5, 2001
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      Malawi minister backs
      third term plan

      The minister of presidential affairs in Malawi,
      Dumbo Lemani, has defended what he called
      the democratic right of the people to ensure
      the incumbent president, Bakili Muluzi, can
      stand for a third term.

      The ruling United Democratic Front party
      wants to amend the constitution to facilitate
      such a move.

      But the Malawi Law Society has warned
      against such action, saying that it could set a
      dangerous precedent.

      The Society say that historically, long stays in
      office have often led to dictatorships.

      *****

      "Young Democrats" Implicated in Intimidation

      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
      November 5, 2001
      Posted to the web November 5, 2001
      Johannesburg
      Ruling United Democratic Front's (UDF) party activists, the so-called "young democrats", have become embroiled once again in allegations of intimidation and violence.
      Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) researcher Zoe Titus told IRIN that MISA planned to contact the Malawian government urgently regarding claims in a local newspaper on Monday 5 November that the UDF had drawn up a list of journalist to be assaulted, allegedly for discrediting the party.
      The Daily Times reported on Monday that the UDF was planning to use a group of "young democrats" based in Ndirande, reportedly headed by Shire Buslines chief executive Humphrey Mvula and presidential youth adviser Henry Moyo. The report said, however, that Mvula had disassociated himself from the group. Journalists on the list included Daily Times chief reporter Mabvuto Banda and senior journalist Penelope Paliani, BBC correspondent Raphael Tenthani and Nation newspaper journalist Pilirani Semu, it added.
      Tenthani was quoted as saying he believed that such schemes did not have the blessing of president Bakili Muluzi, who had professed to be a friend of the media. "Dr Muluzi is a gallant peace crusader, so I don't think he can be fighting for peace in other countries while funding a group of people who wants to disrupt peace in his own country. It just doesn't make sense," he said.
      Titus said in a statement that there had been an increase recently in the number of assaults on journalists. "Brian Ligomeka and Chinyeke Tembo have been beaten up during and soon after the SADC conference allegedly for working with NDA leader Brown Mpinganjira; John Saini, publisher of Pride magazine, was also threatened during the summit. President Muluzi has neither condemned nor commented on the assault on journalists, which journalists say may taint the image of his government internationally," the statement said.
      Titus told IRIN that the "young democrats" had been "running amok" and that she hoped Muluzi would honour his repeated statements that he was willing to provide a safe and open environment for journalists to work in.
      In another development on Monday, a justice and peace commission formed by Malawi's Roman Catholic Church protested against what it described as an increase in "state-sponsored violence" aimed at silencing critics of the government.
      AFP reported that the protests came in the wake of church claims that members of the "young democrats" attacked and harassed Roman Catholics holding a fundraising walk in October.
      "We are convinced state-sponsored violence is aimed at instilling fear in people so that they do not question government policies and other issues of national concern," the commission was quoted as saying in a statement signed by commission chairperson George Buleya. "It creates a culture of fear among peace-loving Malawians. We would not like to go back to dictatorship of one party rule that was characterised by fear and intimidation. We do not want to create a dictator for this country."
      Buleya was quoted as saying that one of the militants, apprehended by church members, "confessed that they were young democrats sent by UDF party heavyweights" to cause trouble during the walk.


      *****

      Lemani Threatens Mpinganjira in Parliament

      Daily Times (Blantyre)
      November 2, 2001
      Posted to the web November 2, 2001
      Tiferanji Malange
      Blantyre
      Government business came to a halt yesterday in Parliament when Reverend Dumbo Lemani angred by Lizzie Mpinganjira's remarks, threatened to kill her after he was accused of having ransacked the petroleum Control Commission (PCC) when he was minister of Energy and Mining.
      The quarrel started when Lemani, MP for Zomba Thondwe, who is also Minister of State responsible for presidential affairs stood on a point of order to respond to Nkhata Bay South MP, Sam Kandodo Banda's remarks that Malawians had ransacked two leading institutions-Dematt and Sedom-which are no longer disbursing loans because of non payment of loans.
      Lemani, widley feared in the ruling party inner circle, said it was sad that the member had produced such remarks because Malawians have not ransacked the institution but that because of high interest rates, it was difficult for them to balance their operations.
      Lemani directed his anger at Lizzie Mpinganjira threatening that she was not going to see the day tomorrow.
      "Ufa lero, ine siwopanga nane masewera" (you are going to die today, I am not the person to play with) said Lemani.
      Angry, Mpinganjira stood to her statements inviting cheers and clapping from the opposition.
      This withdrew members from concentrating on the contribution by deputy minister of Commerce and Industry, Phillip Bwanali.
      MP for Mzuzu City Roger Nkwazi stood on a point of order to ask the Speaker why he was allowing such things to happen in parliament.
      The Deputy Speaker said he was disappointed in the way members were conducting themselves and advised that members be serious as they have a duty to represent Malawians and make better decisions.
      Mrs Mpinganjira stood on a point of order and asked the chair why each time Lemani brings problems in the house, nothing is done but when a member from the opposite side does the same, they are sent out of parliament.
      "Mr Speaker sir, each time the member is in the house, business does not go well, but when he is not thing go on finely, why it so?" said Mpinganjira, and added that member are discouraged from coming to the house because of such people.
      The Speaker said he had noted her concerns and again advised members to be serious with business in the house but as he was speaking, there was still an exchange of words, with Minister of Information, Clement Stambuli as well as member holding the floor trying to cool him off.
      When Stambuli rose also on the same issue where he said Lemani had been provoked by unparliamentary remarks by Mpinganjira, the speaker cut him short and told the House the matter had been closed.


      *****

      MPs Approve Better Package for Themselves

      Daily Times (Blantyre)
      November 2, 2001
      Posted to the web November 2, 2001
      Bright Sonani
      Blantyre
      Members of Parliament yesterday did not bother to debate on their renumeration unanimously adopted a report which among other things recommends increased budget for the Assembly, which will consequently see an increase in their packages to 50 percent of that given to ministers.
      Minister get a total of around K400,000 per month which inlcudes allowances.
      The report by an Ad Hoc Task Force also suggests an increased funding of parliamentary committees while at the same time recommending to reduce the committees from 18 to 12 and expand their portfolios to maximize allocation of Parliamentary resources.
      The 83 page report also suggests that all MPs should be issued with diplomatic passports.
      On the remuneration package the report says: "Parliament should include in its budget sufficient funds to ensure that MPs receive remuneration packages that are 50 per cent of (that) for ministers."
      The report came from recommendations by 41 MPs and Parliamentary staff a seminar convened by the Speaker last month to develop strategies for strengthening Parliamentary committees.
      One of the observations in the report is that parliament's budget is not adequate to fund meetings of parliament, committee meetings and neccessary staff and support activities while compensation for MPs and staff were low.
      "Very few committees have been able to meet several times a year. The few that have met relatively frequently have typically been supported by donors," observed the report.
      It further observed that MPs and committees have not played strong enough roles within parliament and in relationships between parliament and the executive due to lack of adequate financial resources.
      The report recommends that to ensure that parliament has the financial resources it needs to carry out its mandates, it should receive funding when needed.
      The report also suggests parliament should take appropriate steps to ensure that treasury adhere to section 183 of the constitution, which protects expenditures incurred to convene Parliament.
      "Annually (should have) no less than the amount of funds in Parliament's approved budget. Monthly, (should have) no less than the monthly draws requested in accordance with the approved budget," reads part of the report.
      "Should circumstances make it difficult for treasury to approve the requested monthly draws, parliament should insist that prior concurrence from parliament be received before any reduction in request monthly draws."
      It also recommended that the budget and finance committee should participate in preparing the parliament budget.
      When the report was presented by the Leader of the House Harry Thomson, who was chaired the seven member task force, it did not take time before the house approved and adopted it without debate.
      The parliamentarians quashed suggestions by first deputy speaker Davies Katsonga for them to go through the report first and discuss it before adoption.
      A plea by Thomson to have the report, which has a total of 54 recommendations, discussed also fell on deaf ears.
      "May I plead one more time that you go through the report tonight and come back tomorrow morning," said visibly concerned Thomson after the Speaker asked him to withdraw an earlier motion that the house discuss and adopt the
      report.
      Only three MPs, Mzuzu City Rodger Nkhwazi (Aford), Machinga South East Thengo Maloya (UDF), and Likoma's George Mtafu (UDF) had a different opinion with the rest of the house.
      "It will be completely wrong for parliament, extremely undemocratic and relatively uncivilised if we just collect this document and said yes," said Mtafu.
      While Maloya said the hasty adoption of the report will set a precedent whereby any bill can pass without being discussed.
      Speaker Sam Mpasu said during a press briefing on the report that K36 million has been set aside to implement what was contained in the report and a new Committee for Parliamentary Development and Coordination will be formed to coordinate implementation and to help mobilise funds.


      *****

      "Dumbo Fired Me"-Kadzamira

      Daily Times (Blantyre)
      November 2, 2001
      Posted to the web November 2, 2001
      Mc Donald Chapalapata
      Blantyre
      PRESIDENTIAL Affairs Minister Dumbo Lemani pressurised the then Minister of Education Brown Mpinganjira to dismiss from the Polytechnic a niece to former official hostess Mama Cecilia Kadzamira, a public inquiry at the Ombudsman heard yesterday.
      Beatrice Kadzamira who was a Lecturer at Polytechnic said she was dismissed by Lemani because his wife Ruth, a fellow Lecturer at the same institution, was not comfortable with her.
      "I made my own efforts to meet Mpinganjira in August last year and he told me that it was Dumbo Lemani who told him to fire that 'Kadzamira girl because my wife is there and she is not comfortable with her around," Kadzamira, niece to former Official Hostess Mama Cecilia Kadzamira, told the inquiry.
      She said Mpinganjira told her that when he consulted President Bakili Muluzi on the matter, the President is said to have exonarrated himself from the issue.
      "Mpinganjira said he consulted his Principal Secretary and other officials in the ministry on the matter but he was receiving a lot of pressure from Lemani and he had no choice but to carry the orders," said Kadzamira.
      She said she started lecturing at the Polytechnic in 1978. She went for further studies in the United Kingdom for two years and again for a year in 1983.
      Kadzamira was seconded to the Foreign Affairs ministry and went to London to be personal Assistant to the High Commissioner.
      But in 1993, she received a letter from Patrick Kachimera who was head of Human Resources in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informing her that government was interested to take her into the civil service.
      But when she finished her term in September 1994, Kachimera is said to have told her that there was no post for her.
      "I saw Dr Anacklet Phiri, the Principal for Polytechnic who assured me that I could go back to Polytechnic because my name was already there. But I asked for some time to settle down properly," said Kadzamira.
      But Ms Kadzamira could not start work immediately because of her relations were going through the Mwanza murder trial.
      Kadzamira had to undergo interviews at the Polytechnic because they had declared her post vacant after she had not reported for work for over a year. She was succesful and was offered employement.
      "But two weeks into my job, I was told by the then Principal Henry Chibwana that I had been dismissed because clearance procedures were not followed," said Kadzamira.
      She said she contacted the chairman of the board of governors Mike Polera who told her that the decision to fire her came from Mpinganjira.
      "I instituted legal proceedings, considering the mental torture and the financial difficulties I was going through as I had to support my two kids.
      But when my lawyer Mordecai Msisha got a date at the High Court, the file would miss and this went on for three years," said Kadzamira.
      Ombudsman Enock Chibwana has adjourned the matter to December 14, 2001 to allow Mpinganjira, Kachimera and Polera to testify.


      *****

      Corruption Worries IMF

      Daily Times (Blantyre)
      November 1, 2001
      Posted to the web November 1, 2001
      Thomas Chafunya
      Blantyre
      A SENIOR International Monetary Fund (IMF) official said yesterday the fund was still worried with long standing uncompleted corruption cases which if not resolved will erode the full value of the Anti Corruption Bureau's (ACB) work and create public doubt.
      Thomas Gibson, IMF Resident Representative told Daily Times that while the ACB has performed a major public service in identifying instances of corruption which he said was laudable, the bureau was bound to lose face if the cases are not fully resolved.
      " Moreover, civil society and the print media have brought to light that individuals figuring prominently in these cases continue to serve in high positions," he said adding that the reputations of prominent business persons, public servants and politicians were under a cloud therefore the process must be settled to allow what he described as "the restitution of the good names of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty."
      He said the local authorities could wish to adopt the practice followed in many countries in cases where prominent public figures in public positions are allegedly involved in corrupt scandals. He said they take administrative leave while cases are being dealt with by the judiciary.
      "This has the effect of heading off charges that the influence is being used," he said.
      Gibson said corruption cases such as that of APEX, Secucom and alleged misappropriation of taxpayers money in Petroleum Control Commission (PCC) needed to be brought to closure.
      "The audit of the PCC was completed almost three years ago and prosecution is about to commence. More rapid progress in this case has also been slowed by the involvement of foreign jurisdictions," he said.
      Gibson also picked another worrisome area, the dragging in settling the tax evasion case with an importer (name withheld) who admitted evading duty but disputed the K250 million which was the amount in question.
      He said the total liability for tax evaded and the its fine were determined, however, in terms of both the purchasing power of the Kwacha and the United States Dollar value of the originally alleged evasion was but a 'pittance.'
      "Moreover, it is usually the practice for the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) to bargain these amounts so it will instructive to see how much is actually paid by the importer," he said adding that the results of this case will make a strong impression and send a messege whichever way it was resolved.
      He also said government must demonstrate the transparency and openness with which countries affairs are dealt with.
      "This is a real incentive to investors who value the rule of law, the enforceability of contracts and the efficacy of the legal system-the type of investors Malawi wants- and is to be valued," Gibson said.
      He also said an IMF mission will arrive in the country soon to review the three year Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF), the 2001/2002 budget and the general performance of the economy.


      *****

      Skin Disease Outbreak in Blantyre

      Daily Times (Blantyre)
      November 1, 2001
      Posted to the web November 1, 2001
      Daily Times Reporter
      Blantyre
      THERE is an outbreak of an infectious skin disease in the country's most populous region-southern region-with about 1.5 million people risking contracting the disease called onchocerciasis in seven districts.
      National Onchocerciasis Control Programme (NOCP) warned yesterday that the disease can lead to blindness if reaches an advanced stage. It is caused by a worm called onchocerca volvulus.
      Programme Manager Phelimon Tambala said the signs and symptoms of the disease can be noticed by skin irritation, itching and sores aggravated through scratching. He said the disease is curable with proper medication in its early stages.
      This was disclosed at a one-day workshop organised to brief health workers on the disease which is transmitted by black flies and is prevalent in Mpemba, Zingwangwa and Madziabango townships in Blantyre and some parts of Mulanje, Thyolo, Mwanza and Phalombe districts.
      "These are the most hit areas because geographically, they are close to river banks where there is active transmission of the disease," he said.
      Tambala said: "There is need to sustain the control programme at community level and it requires health personnel to fully put into action an integrated system to avoid misconceptions that can lead to people shunning drugs."
      He warned the practitioners from them to refrain from taking advantage of the disease by selling Suramin and Benecid, the drugs which will be distributed freely to all impact areas.


      *****

      Pay $70m to victims, court tells Mugabe
      By Philip Delves Broughton in New York
      (Filed: 01/11/2001)


      PRESIDENT MUGABE was dealt a humiliating blow last
      night when his Zanu-PF party was ordered by a New York
      court to pay $100 million (รบ70 million) compensation
      to victims of violence that engulfed Zimbabwe's
      parliamentary elections last year.

      It is unlikely that the money will be paid, but
      lawyers for the victims plan to begin freezing and
      appropriating Zanu-PF assets in Zimbabwe and
      worldwide. One of the plaintiffs, Maria Stevens, whose
      husband, a white tobacco farmer, was abducted and
      killed by militants, said the award proved that some
      of Mr Mugabe's followers "are absolute thugs and
      terrorists".

      Even if she never sees the money, she said, the case
      brought further credibility and attention to the
      accusations of human rights abuses in Zimbabwe. "At
      least I can tell my children I did everything in my
      power," she said last night from her new home in
      Britain. Any money received from the suit will go
      first to the plaintiffs, to provide for their
      children's education and living costs, and the
      remainder to a welfare fund.

      Three victims, including Mrs Stevens, testified in New
      York last week. Adella Chiminya described how her
      husband, Tichaona, campaign manager for Morgan
      Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for
      Democratic Change, was burned alive in his car by
      Zanu-PF activists in April. Elliot Pfebve joined the
      class action to seek justice for his brother, Matthew,
      beaten to death when a mob of more than 300 attacked
      their home.

      The Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum documented more than
      1,000 crimes from beatings to torture committed during
      the 2000 election campaign. It said 31 people were
      killed in violence widely attributed to supporters of
      the ruling Zanu-PF, who were later given an amnesty
      for their crimes.

      *****

      Zambia struggles as
      copper price falls

      Zambian firms may have to cut costs and therefore jobs
      Fear exists that the falling price of copper
      could upset the Zambian economy, which relies
      heavily on copper export revenues.

      Copper is now worth about 64 cents per
      pound, compared to 81 cents a year ago and
      is expected to fall further in the coming
      months.

      Zambia's copper and cobalt mining industry is a
      major source of employment in the southern
      African country of 11 million people.

      Already some projects in the country have
      been put on hold.

      Dependent economy

      The mining sector accounts for about 80% of
      Zambia's export revenues, Ignatius Chicha,
      treasurer at Citibank in Zambia, told the BBC's
      World Business Report, so the falling price of
      copper means there is potential for a huge
      balance of payment deficit.

      Zambian companies are already reporting that
      they are operating at a loss this year and if
      this continues they will have to cut costs and
      therefore jobs, he added.

      However Razia Khan, economist at Standard
      Chartered Bank said that as yet the fall in the
      price of copper hadn't had too much of an
      impact on the Zambian economy yet.

      Delayed projects

      "A lot of copper producers would have been
      hedged against the possibilty of weakness of
      copper prices," she told the BBC's World
      Business Report.

      "As of yet, there hasn't been too much of a
      macro economic impact of the fall of the
      copper price in Zambia...the only difficulties
      they have had so far have been the delays to
      new copper projects...the only way to keep
      prices supported is to control output," she
      added.

      The Zambian economy has been growing at a
      rate of 5%, helped by copper mine
      privatisations in the 1990s, which - though
      they led to job losses - in many cases helped
      revive the "copper belt economy".

      "Those towns that were very dependent on
      copper mining have seen the economy
      improve," she added.

      No surprise

      The falling price of copper is set to result in
      job cuts across the world.

      Phelps Dodge announcement last week of a
      14% cut in capacity will mean about 1,440
      employee layoffs.

      "A cutback of any magnitude has been long
      coming given the weak environment that we've
      been experiencing, plus very high inventories,"
      said John Gross, president of consulting firm JE
      Gross & Associates.
      "The soft conditions were all being
      exacerbated by the tragic September
      situation."

      For the copper price to recover fully, other
      producers should follow suit, analysts argue.

      "We are looking at the lowest prices in some
      metals since the early 1980s as prices have
      been bludgeoned by the slowdown in the US
      and global economy," said Lawrence Eagles at
      Commodityexperts.com.

      *****

      Kaunda's son running in
      Zambian election

      The former Zambian ruling party, the United
      National Independence Party - UNIP - has
      announced Tilyenji Kaunda will be its candidate
      in the presidential election.

      He is the son of Kenneth Kaunda, who ruled
      Zambia for three decades after independence
      but finally stepped down as head of UNIP last
      year.

      The Zambian presidential and parliamentary
      elections are to be held before the end of this
      year, but no date has yet been announced.
    • 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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