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  • Christine Chumbler
    Parliament expels Malawi MPs By Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre Seven opposition politicians in Malawi have lost their parliamentary seats for ostensibly
    Message 1 of 1046 , Nov 8, 2001
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      Parliament expels
      Malawi MPs

      By Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre

      Seven opposition politicians in Malawi have lost
      their parliamentary seats for ostensibly
      violating a controversial section of the
      constitution.

      Among them are a former senior minister Brown
      Mpinganjira, and his wife Lizzie, who were
      expelled from the ruling United Democratic
      Front last year and have since formed the
      National Democratic Alliance pressure group.

      Under the constitution,
      MPs are forbidden from
      associating themselves
      with parties or political
      groupings, other than
      the party they
      represented when
      elected.

      The pressure group has
      managed to garner
      some support from the UDF stronghold of the
      southern region, and analysts say the move to
      ban some of them was designed to undermine
      that.

      Heated exchange

      The debate on the issue in parliament on
      Wednesday followed the circulation of a letter
      by two MPs, one ruling party and another
      opposition, to the speaker, asking him to
      declare their seats vacant because they had
      left their origin party.

      During the heated exchange it was argued that
      five of the disaffected MPs were voted in as
      ruling party representatives and as they have
      now joined groupings whose objectives, it is
      claimed, are political in nature, they have
      forfeited claims to their seats.

      The other banned
      president of the
      opposition Malawi
      Congress Party of
      former President
      Hastings Banda was
      also banned.

      The letter accused Mr
      Gwanda Chakuamba
      and his right-hand
      man, the outspoken
      Heatherwick Ntaba, of
      forming an alliance with
      the third largest group
      in parliament and taking senior positions within
      it.

      Unfair action

      But when the Speaker allowed the debate to
      go ahead despite the absence of the seven
      accused MPs, even senior ruling UDF MPs
      protested, saying it was unfair.

      The leader of the house said rules of natural
      justice demand that the seven be heard before
      any action was taken against them.

      One opposition member wondered why only Mr.
      Chakuamba and Dr Ntaba were being singled
      out.

      Loveness Gondwe said that if the motion was
      not vindictive, then all other MPs in the
      alliance should also have their seats declared
      vacant.

      Condemnation

      But the speaker curtailed the debate, saying
      his decision was final.

      Also banned from parliament is the tycoon and
      former financier of the ruling party, James
      Makhumula, who left the party early this year
      citing corruption.

      Both Mr Mpinganjira
      and Dr Ntaba told the
      BBC they would fight
      both legally and
      politically to regain
      their status.

      Mr Mpinganjira said he
      knew all along that the
      introduction of the
      controversial section
      had been targeted at
      him.

      The move to dismiss
      the seven MPs has already drawn wide-spread
      condemnation among civil society and the
      donor community.

      Their expulsion would trigger a round of by-
      elections.

      *****

      Zambian election date
      remains a mystery

      By the BBC's Richard Lee in Zambia

      After months of increasingly feverish
      speculation, Zambians still have no clear idea
      when their elections will take place.

      Although many people now believe that the
      polls - for president, parliament and local
      government - will be held in early December,
      constitutionally they could be delayed until
      March.

      Only the outgoing
      president, Frederick
      Chiluba, knows the
      exact date and he is
      keeping it very close to
      his chest.

      "The speculation is that elections are likely to
      come at the beginning of December," said the
      chairman of the Electoral Commission, Judge
      Bobby Bwalya. "But we don't know the actual
      date. That is only known by the president."

      Printing papers

      President Chiluba recently flew off to attend
      the 5th United Nations General Assembly in
      New York. The session starts on 10 November,
      which means he will not be able to return to
      Zambia and call the election until after that
      date.

      This would delay the elections until at least
      the second week of December.

      A four week gap generally follows the
      announcement to allow 11 days for the
      nomination process and at least two weeks for
      printers to print ballot papers.

      Lusaka taxi-driver, Mshik Phiri, is completely in
      the dark about the elections. "I have no idea
      when they will take place," he said. "I thought
      that they would be in October. The date is
      impossible to predict."

      Snap poll

      Many political analysts had also assumed that
      the president would call an early election to
      take advantage of the divided nature of the
      opposition and the fact that a number of
      opposition parties had only recently been
      established.

      A snap poll would have given them little time
      to raise sufficient funds for the campaign,
      increasing the ruling Movement for Multi-Party
      Democracy's chances of re-election. It would
      also have avoided the logistical problems
      created by the long rains that are due to start
      within the next few weeks.

      Anderson Masoka,
      leader of the opposition
      United Party for
      National Development,
      believes that the
      election has been
      delayed because
      President Chiluba is
      confused about the
      best possible date.

      "He is still trying to
      gauge the chances of
      MMD winning," said Masoka. "Initially, he
      considered a snap election to take the
      opposition by surprise. Then he decided to
      delay it in order to develop his presidential
      candidate, Levy Mwanawasa, to an acceptable
      level. I think the president is at sixes and
      sevens at the moment. We just don't know
      what he has up his sleeve."

      Gearing up

      With all the MMD's campaign material
      emblazoned with the year 2001, indications are
      that the election will be held in December. All
      the opposition parties are certainly gearing up
      for that with most of them having already
      finalised their list of candidates.

      But the intense secrecy surrounding the date
      is breeding frustration among voters.

      "Everyone wants their chance to vote," said
      Ndovu Christopher, a freelance photographer.
      "People are getting increasingly frustrated by
      the lack of information. All this secrecy could
      cost the MMD votes."

      Opposition politicians
      have also attacked the
      president's handling of
      the issue.

      "It is ridiculous that the
      election date continues
      to be a mystery," said
      Brigadier General
      Godfrey Miyanda, leader
      of the Heritage Party.
      "If elected, we
      undertake to enshrine in
      law the month and period when future
      elections should be held."

      Anderson Masoka added his weight to the
      criticism.

      "Politicians should give the Zambian people
      adequate warning about the date so that they
      can make up their minds," he said.

      "It is the Zambian people on whose behalf we
      are running this country and if we try to short
      change them then we are being dishonest. And
      that is exactly what Chiluba is doing."

      Under wraps

      It is clear that the president is keeping the
      date under wraps to try and boost his party's
      hopes. But the government dismisses
      accusations that he is confused or that he is
      doing anything underhand.

      "All over the commonwealth leaders keep the
      election date secret and that is the position in
      Zambia," said Vernon Mwanga, Minister of
      Information and Broadcasting. "Setting the
      election date is solely the prerogative of the
      president."

      Following the
      adjournment of
      parliament last Friday,
      many observers had
      expected the president
      to make an
      announcement over
      the weekend.

      He did not but the
      electoral commissioner
      is still sure that a
      decision is imminent.

      "I believe the president is likely to announce
      the date at any time," predicted Judge Bwalya.

      "Especially now, after the end of the short
      parliamentary session."

      But President Chiluba has long been known as
      someone who likes to spring surprises and he
      appears happy to keep everyone in suspense
      for at least a little longer.

      *****

      Zim police arrest editor of sole
      private paper

      Harare | Thursday

      THE editor-in-chief of Zimbabwe's only private daily newspaper,
      The Daily News, and the former head of the paper's parent
      company, were on Thursday picked by Harare police for
      questioning, the editor and other sources said.
      The paper has been fiercely critical of Zimbabwe President Robert
      Mugabe's government.
      Geoff Nyarota and Wilf Mbanga, the founding CEO of the
      Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), were picked up from
      their homes early on Thursday by plain clothes police.
      Contacted on his mobile phone, Nyarota confirmed he had been
      picked up and was in the middle of being questioned at the police
      criminal investigations office, but would not give details.
      It could not be immediately established what charges they faced,
      but a state-run daily, the Herald this week reported that the ANZ
      flouted investment and exchange control regulations.
      ANZ has denied the allegations as "malicious falsehood by those
      bent on undermining the operations or integrity of ANZ".
      Police have said they are investigating the circumstances under
      which the ANZ was awarded an operating licence.
      The mass circulation Daily News, the country's sole independent
      daily paper, was launched in March 1999 and has frequently
      come under fire.
      Its printing press was destroyed by a bomb blast in January and
      its offices were rocked by a blast in April last year.
      Its editors and reporters have been arrested on various charges,
      and a plot to kill Nyarota failed last year after the would-be
      assassin lost his nerve.
      The paper, along with independent weeklies in Zimbabwe, has
      come under repeated threats from Mugabe's backers since the
      opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won nearly
      half the country's parliamentary seats in watershed elections in
      June last year. In other developments in the beleaguered nation,
      an opinion poll has revealed that most voters favour opposition
      leader Morgan Tsvangirai over Mugabe ahead of presidential
      elections next year.
      The survey by the independent Target Research agency found
      52,9% of those questioned saying they would vote for Tsvangirai,
      against 47,1% for Mugabe, who faces the biggest challenge of his
      21-year rule.
      But 20% of the polled voters remained undecided, saying their
      choice would be influenced by the country's economic situation.
      The poll, commissioned by the weekly Financial Gazette, was
      conducted in August and September among a nationally
      representative population of 3 013 voters.
      The most important issue for the Zimbabwean voter is the
      deepening economic crisis characterised by inflation above 80%,
      unemployment of more than 60% and critical shortages of foreign
      exchange.
      Most of the respondents who expressed their intention to vote for
      Tsvangirai were from the Harare area and districts of western
      Matabeleland North and South provinces.
      The poll showed that Mugabe still enjoys support in his traditional
      rural strongholds of Mashonaland and Masvingo provinces.
      Analysts say Mugabe, who came to power in 1980 on a wave of
      popular support after leading a guerrilla war against white-minority
      rule, has used the land reform card to try to step up his support in
      the rural countryside.
      Mugabe says the controversial land reforms to take land from a
      small population of whites, who own some 70% of prime farmland,
      and give it to millions of landless blacks -- is meant to correct
      colonial imbalances. Mugabe faces possibly the greatest
      challenge to his rule in the race against Tsvangirai, leader of the
      Movement for Democratic Change, and opposition figures have
      openly worried he will use intimidation to stay in power.
      The Financial Gazette said researchers who conducted the recent
      were harassed by pro-government supporters, officials and local
      leaders during their field work.
      In several cases, interviewers were assaulted, arrested by police
      and some had their cash and completed questionnaires
      confiscated by pro-government youths on suspicion they were
      members of the opposition, according to the weekly. - AFP, Sapa

      *****

      The Zimbabwean way of
      death

      A shortage of burial space in Harare is forcing
      practically minded Zimbabweans to reserve
      their final resting place with cash down in
      advance.

      The capital has been struggling with the lack
      of final resting places and getting a decent
      burial is becoming increasingly difficult.

      Out of Harare's seven
      cemeteries, five are full
      and have closed their
      gates to business.
      Space at the remainder
      is at a premium.

      The shortage means
      only 30 minutes can be
      spent on each burial
      service in the
      over-subscribed
      graveyards.

      The high number of deaths of paupers has also
      added to the problem. In Harare's cemeteries,
      about 35 people are buried each day.

      More than 300 paupers and infants are buried
      each week and cremating them would save a
      lot of space.

      Promoting cremation

      Given the lack of free land around Harare,
      cremation would appear an ideal solution.

      It is, however, taboo among black
      Zimbabweans who constitute more than 95%
      of the country's 13 million people.

      According to a Harare
      City Council official,
      they are increasingly
      encouraging people to
      turn to cremation to
      save on a lot of land
      which is now
      expensive.

      But black Zimbabweans
      still prefer to bury their
      departed six feet
      under.

      By now, however, the
      grave shortage ought to have meant that
      cultural sensitivities or not, cremation is
      increasingly appearing the only option, says
      our Harare correspondent.

      Cultural reluctance

      Cremation may be popular among the
      estimated small population of Asian origin and
      among some of the country's whites.

      But according to an official in the Harare City
      Council's amenities department, he has only
      seen two blacks being cremated in the past 11
      years.

      ''I don't think there are
      more than 10 black
      people who have been
      cremated since
      independence" in 1980,
      he said.

      ''If you look at the
      costs, in the end it's
      cheaper to cremate
      than bury because you won't have the costs
      of buying a tombstone and maintaining the
      grave.''

      It costs between US$23 and US$50 to book a
      plot for up to 10 years, against US$81 for a
      cremation.

      And according to a City of Harare amenities
      official, if the person does not die within that
      period, then he or she loses the place.

      ''It's not like we are encouraging you to die,
      but after 10 years you have to pay for another
      booking to show that you are still interested in
      the place,'' he said.

      Aids crisis

      HIV/Aids has played a role as one of the
      grimmest of reapers. Government figures show
      that more than 1,200 people die every week
      because of the disease.

      ''It's better to burn than take up land which
      could be used for other things,'' said the city
      council official.

      But talk of cremation riles traditionalists who
      say it is "uncultural".

      ''We believe that a person's spirit will come
      back and look after the departed's family,'' said
      Zvomuya Gwindi, a traditional healer.

      ''So if you burn the dead body, you will anger
      that spirit and it will come back as an unhappy
      spirit.

      ''In our culture we don't
      do that and we have to
      respect our culture and
      stick to it. Burning is a
      non-starter,'' the healer
      said.

      But despite the horror
      of traditionalists, at
      least one Harare
      resident is warming to
      the idea.

      ''Once you are dead you are dead. It's
      unfortunate that in our culture we still believe
      that one will come back after death,'' she said.

      ''I want to leave a bit of my ash with
      everybody who loves me. I know it goes
      against African culture, but that is what I
      would want,'' she added.

      *****

      Free schooling
      'unrealistic' in Tanzania

      Hands up who wants a better teacher
      By Christine Otieno in Dar es Salaam

      Gordius Mbuya, a father of five children, all of
      school-going age, welcomes President
      Benjamin Mkapa's decision to abolish primary
      school fees from January 2002.

      His son Barnabas is his middle child and is
      currently in Standard Two at the local Oyster
      Bay Primary School in Dar es Salaam.

      The government's
      ambitious plan to
      re-introduce primary
      education for all is also
      causing him some
      concern.

      "It will mean that my
      other children will have
      a chance to go to
      school which is great
      news but we must
      exercise caution here,"
      he says.

      "The government rolled this programme out in
      the 1970s but could not follow it through.
      There are many factors at stake here. First
      and foremost can the government afford this
      grand scheme of theirs?" he asks.

      Others are sceptical about the new plan to
      revise what is essentially a programme that
      collapsed in the mid-1980s due to lack of
      funds.

      Teachers

      Teachers across the board are also worried
      about how the programme will be paid for.

      When President
      Benjamin Mkapa
      unveiled the plan last
      week he noted the
      importance of improving
      Tanzania's education
      system.

      In the past 15 years,
      literacy levels in Tanzania have dropped
      dramatically and illiteracy now stands at a
      staggering 60%.

      President Mkapa says: "Our goal is to have all
      children in school by the year 2005, as well as
      to improve the quality of education in primary
      schools."

      For Gordius Mbuya, this is all very well and
      good. But he insists the government needs
      more than just a five-year plan.

      "We need more teachers, the quality of my
      children's education is very important. It is not
      enough to put an extra one million children in
      school without providing enough teachers," he
      says.

      "Not only should the
      teachers be provided
      but they should be able
      to maintain a high
      quality of teaching.
      Right now the standard
      of education here is
      not the best."

      These sentiments are
      echoed by Pius Bogo, a
      primary school teacher
      for seven years.

      "Okay, the government
      says they will hire more teachers but what
      they should look at is the teachers they have
      now. Our salary is woefully inadequate. We are
      very unmotivated in this field of work."

      He said they were already overstretched by
      the current number of pupils and did not know
      how the system could cope with an extra
      million pupils.

      "I am not sure the government can pull this
      off. But I hope they do, our education
      standards are currently the lowest in East
      Africa."

      Action plan

      It is partly due to these figures that the
      government has been galvanised into action.

      It has announced the
      first steps by promising
      to build 54,000 new
      classrooms and recruit
      9,000 new teachers for
      primary levels.

      Whether or not the
      government can successfully run this
      programme will depend on co-operation from
      able parents.

      The scheme is going to depend on the
      government providing text books, teachers and
      running costs - as well as making up for the
      lack of school fees.

      While parents, through a committee, will be
      asked to voluntarily donate money according
      to their budgets for the building of classrooms
      and teachers quarters whenever necessary.

      Gordius says he will donate where he can but
      financial restrictions will be a major stumbling
      block for most parents.

      Despite his concerns, he does apreciate the
      government's efforts.

      "I am pleased they are trying, I certainly hope
      they succeed for the sake of my children and
      indeed all children."
    • 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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