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  • Christine Chumbler
    Three Judges Removed Daily Times (Blantyre) November 14, 2001 Posted to the web November 15, 2001 Gabriel Kamlomo Lilongwe Parliament yesterday agreed to
    Message 1 of 1046 , Nov 19, 2001
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      Three Judges Removed

      Daily Times (Blantyre)
      November 14, 2001
      Posted to the web November 15, 2001
      Gabriel Kamlomo
      Lilongwe
      Parliament yesterday agreed to petition President Bakili Muluzi asking him to impeach the three High Court Judges accused of misconduct despite an injunction from the court stopping them from going ahead.
      The agreement was, however, made without the blessing of Aford MP's who stayed away in protest against the petition as soon the motion was moved.
      The three judges George Chimasula Phiri, Anaclet Chipeta and Dunstain Mwaungulu probably aware of their fate were absent from the house despite being summoned on Monday prompting the parliamentarians to accuse the of being in contempt of the House.
      It was evident however that the move to demand for the removal of the judges was met with mixed feeling although a lot of UDF and most MCP signed the petition.
      The movers of the three motions MPs Benard Chisale, Salimu Bagus and Henry Mussa based their arguments on section 119 of the Constitution which they insisted empowers Parliament to petition the president to remove judges if they are misbehaving or incompetent.
      Mussa said the law is there to achieve justice adding that the courts are vehicles that take the society to justice.
      Aford President Chakufwa Chihana said his members decided to stay away because they did not want to be part to the unprocedural removal of the judges.
      He accused parliament of wanting to be the complainant, prosecutor and judge at the same time when competent institutions can handle the issue and said the house lacked knowledge to critically analyse real issues.
      "Our point of view is that the procedure is wrong. The judges are not employed by Parliament. The matter should have been referred to the Judicial Service Commission first to allow it to conduct investigations and would have referred their findings to President Muluzi," he said.
      Chihana who described the parliamentarians as a children picnic without political sense said by moving the motions the parliamentarians have committed a crime and have embarrassed Muluzi since the world will be watching to see how he is going to react.


      *****

      Speaker Faces Impeachment

      Daily Times (Blantyre)
      November 14, 2001
      Posted to the web November 15, 2001
      Gabriel Kamlomo
      Lilongwe
      A Member of Parliament has filed a motion to the office of the Speaker of the National Assembly asking the House to request the Speaker Sam Mpasu to step down.
      MP for Nkhata Bay South Sam Kandodo Banda revealed this in the House yesterday when he rose to find out why the motion had not been included in the Order Paper of the day when he had sent it to the Clerk of Parliament and the Speaker two days before.
      "I sent a motion which I intended to move this morning. It does not appear today. I would like to know what happened to that motion," said a visibly suspicious Kandodo Banda.
      At the request of Speaker Mpasu, Banda explained to the House that his motion is to express concern at the way the Speaker has conducted himself when handling matters before the House and that he be asked to step down and pave way for another person.
      Accepting receipt of the said motion, Mpasu said, however, that the motion had not been sent to his office two days before as had been alleged by Banda.
      "The motion was issued yesterday (Wednesday) and not two days ago. In fact the motion can not come in this House until the Business Committee discusses it," Mpasu said to which Banda responded: "If the motion took two days it is because the distance , communication between your office and the office of the Clerk of Parliament takes two days."
      Rumphi East MP Dindi Gowa Nyasulu rose and wondered in the House why the motion had to be tabled before the Business Committee of the House when he had "information" that recent motions calling for the Houses recommendation for the firing of three High Court judges were not brought before the said committee but were discussed and passed .
      The motions on the removal of the judges were not presented before the Business Committee, why should this motion go to the Business Committee? Why are you applying double standards? We are all members of Parliament here and equal," Nyasulu said.
      But one Aford MP, himself a member of the Business Committee stood to defend the Speaker saying he was aware the matter was discussed before being tabled in the House.


      *****

      Church Pens President Muluzi On Judges

      Daily Times (Blantyre)
      November 14, 2001
      Posted to the web November 15, 2001
      Times Reporter
      Lilongwe
      The General Synod of the Church of Central African Presbyterian (CCAP) have penned state president Bakili Muluzi expressing their concern over what it calls "the gradual but concerted and effective moves to erode the independence of the judiciary in the country".
      Dated November 14, 2001, the letter signed by General Synod Moderator F.L Chingota, Senior Clerk Y Chienda, Blantyre synod moderator and general secretary M. Kadawati and Daniel Gunya respectively, Livingstonia synod moderator and general secretary H.K Mvula and Matiya Nkhoma respectively, moderator of Nkhoma synod and its general secretary Conrad Chimkoka and Winston Kawale respectively, the synod questions the motive behind the recent move by parliament to impeach three High Court Judges.
      The synod, in the letter, is appealing to Muluzi not to approve the impeachment petition, which was passed in parliament on Wednesday, for the sake of democracy and judicial independence.
      "We would like to highlight to you, Your Excellency and the nation some salient issues surrounding this matter for enlightenment of the nation and to appeal to Your Excellency to protect and defend the independence of the judiciary," reads the letter in part.
      It (the letter) continues to remind the president that in his oath of office, he swore to defend and protect the constitution with the help of God and that the independence of the judiciary is just part of that constitution.
      "In the absence of proper independent judiciary to check the Executive (President and cabinet), the Executive could become autocratic and dictatorial to the subjects.
      "So too is the absence of an independent judiciary, Parliament could pass laws that are unconstitutional and infringe basic human rights of people," reads the letter.
      The letter, which has also been copied to the speaker of parliament, the chief Justice and the three concerned judges Justice Dustain Mwaungulu, Justice George Chimasula Phiri and Justice Anacklet Chipeta, observes that the reason for the move to impeach the judges is because the concerned judges had ruled against government interest.
      The synod, while applauding the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) for their request to Parliament not to debate the impeachment motion however expresses disappointment over parliament's refusal to give JSC more time to examine the matter by proceeding with the motions in parliament today (Wednesday) without the finding of the JSC.
      "We are also gravely disappointed to learn that parliament has voted to proceed with the debate on the motion not with standing that there is an injunction against it.
      It says Parliament is playing double standards because it has just complied with another court (the one for fired MPs). The judge who granted that injunction has not been labelled incompetent and has not been summoned for impeachment," reads the letter.
      " We are worried that more and more allegations continue to be added to the motions for impeachment. How do the concerned judges prepare their defence?" questions the letter.
      The constitution, according to the letter guarantees that judges can be removed from office except for reasons of misconduct and incompetence and after proper impeachment process to ensure that no individual should exercise power to remove a judge for fear that judges may be inclined to rule in favour of that authority to avoid being removed from office.
      The synod has also called the judges of the high court and the justices of Appeal of the Supreme Court to put behind the incident and get on with their *noble and commendable job of dispersing justice without fear or favour.
      "Parliament has clearly crossed the boundaries of separation of powers and has entered the exclusive domain of the Judiciary," reads the letter while urging Malawians to guard against a return to the pre 1994 era where the former head of state could remove or transfer any judge at will.


      *****

      Police Search Lecturer's House, Office

      Daily Times (Blantyre)
      November 14, 2001
      Posted to the web November 15, 2001
      Frank Namangale
      Zomba
      A LECTURER at Chancellor College in Zomba was yesterday taken unawares after 13 armed police officers besieged his home and later his office in search of what they claimed were documents likely to cause breach of peace.
      Wiseman Chirwa, who is also deputy director of University of Malawi's Centre for Social Research, wondered why the police were treating him like that.
      "It is surprising that the warrant is not stating where and how I committed an offence," said Chirwa, while the search was still on.
      Chirwa said he could not figure out any action that could have provoked the police to search his house.
      Asked if he suspects the search was connected to the recent protest by Law students against the impeachment of High Court judges, Chirwa said he could not be linked to the protest because he was away.
      The police, who turned Chirwa's house upside down, however went away empty handed after failing to find such documents.
      He said after finding nothing at his home, the police decided to search his office too at the college.
      "I do not remember to have committed any offence to warrant this search," Chirwa said.
      Sources at the college disclosed that the police were also expected to search the House of the Dean of Law, Gaston Kamchedzera.
      But when contacted for comment, Kamchedzera who was present at Chirwa' house, expressed ignorance of the search.
      He said it would be bad if the police decides to search his house.
      "I'm not at home, so how can they go ahead to search my house? What offence have I committed any way?" wondered Kamchedzera.
      He said it was surprising that Chirwa's search warrant did not specify the offence he has committed.
      The police, who were led by District Police Officer Inspector Maulanda, denied to comment saying it was too early.


      *****

      Woman Hangs Child For Theft

      Daily Times (Blantyre)
      November 14, 2001
      Posted to the web November 15, 2001
      Frank Namangale
      Blantyre
      A distraught mother yesterday morning shocked residents in Chilobwe when she hanged her 10-year-old son to the roof with wires and rubber ropes for stealing K60 meant for buying relish.
      The boy, Dalitso Madeya is believed to have been hanged upside down for over nine hours-from 6 pm to 2 am-survived the ordeal after he was rescued by passers-by who had heard him screaming for help.

      Eye witness Lack Chikwapula said Dalitso, whose father died while he was very young, was rescued by people who heard him crying for help.
      He expressed concern over how Dalitso's mother, a small-scale businesswoman, had punished her son.
      "We rushed to report the matter to the police who came this morning [yesterday] and arrested her," he said.
      Chikwapula said the woman, currently on remand at Soche Police, admitted to the police that she hanged Dalitso as a reprimand for stealing the money.
      "It is her biological mother. If we did not rush, he could have died," Chikwapula said.
      Family sources said they were not surprised with her action because "she has always been a cruel person."
      Speaking outside Chilobwe Police Unit yesterday, Dalitso, visibly in pain from bruises, agreed to have taken the K60.
      "She slapped me and threatened that I will die by hanging," said Dalitso.
      Efforts to speak to Dalitso's mother failed after police blocked reporters from taking pictures and denied interviews saying she was under protection.
      This is the third time a child has been abused, mid this year a Namiwawa-based woman, Alice Gwazantini currently on full remand at Chichiri Prison was also picked by police on allegations that she scalded to death her maid, Ntchayi Jakisoni.


      *****

      Cheaper HIV/Aids Drugs Only Half the Solution, Question is Who Gets Them

      Business Day (Johannesburg)
      ANALYSIS
      November 16, 2001
      Posted to the web November 16, 2001
      Jonathan Katzenellenbogen
      IMF says scope for alleviating effect of disease through financial aid is limited
      AS THE price of antiretroviral drugs falls, the question being asked increasingly is how affordable these treatments are for sub-Saharan public health services.
      The bottom line of a study the International Monetary Fund (IMF) released this week is that even if the cost of the drugs was substantially cut access to "highly active antiretroviral therapies" through public health systems is out of the question.
      Most of these are simply not up to providing the treatment. The study says that Botswana and SA are possible exceptions to this, but only to a limited extent. It is the limited access that is increasingly becoming the focus of political battles, and it will raise important questions for moral philosophers and economists.
      Some of the questions might be the extent to which taxes should be raised to finance treatment. Is it worth trading less investment and reduced growth because of higher taxes, for more treatment? If price alone does not determine access, what should then be the determining factors?
      There are many tough questions that the IMF paper does not even approach. It simply looks at the costs and impediments.
      Based on certain assumptions, the IMF paper estimates that the cost of providing triple therapy, without support and other treatment for 10% of those infected, would initially range from 0,2% of gross domestic product (GDP) for Botswana and SA to 2,4% for Malawi. In SA 0,2% of GDP is about R1,8bn, which compares to this fiscal year's health budget of R30bn, or 3,3% of GDP.
      By 2010, with the acceleration of the epidemic, costs rise to 0,4% for SA and Botswana and 4% of GDP for Malawi. But the total cost of treatment by 2010 is 0,9% of GDP for SA and Botswana and 6,5% for Malawi.
      By 2010, the study says SA could achieve a coverage rate for triple therapy alone of 30% at a cost of 1,4% of GDP.
      The paper gives no estimates for the total cost of treatment 30% of those infected.
      The IMF's cost estimates are based on a assumption that the treatment would be provided at about $1100 a patient a year in low-income countries and $1500 a year in higher-income countries, compared with 10000 a year in industrial countries.
      The cost of $1100 a year would exceed the per capita GDP of most southern African countries. This price includes the total costs of treatment and not only that of the drugs.
      Another assumption is that the highly active treatment can extend lives in sub-Saharan Africa by only two years and that patients receive the therapy for the last four years of their lives. But as patients live longer and the number of infected people grows, so would the total cost.
      The study, published as an IMF discussion paper and not as an official statement says that, given the personnel and infrastructure problems of the health sector, "the scope for alleviating the impact of HIV/AIDS on the health sector through financial aid is limited".
      What is needed is assistance to improve health infrastructure and train personnel. But even then there is a problem of meeting current costs of providing care to HIV patients, a large share of health spending in most countries in the region.
      Cutting prices of the highly active antiretroviral therapies would help, but even then the burden of providing medical support for drugs, treatment of opportunistic infections and palliative care remains.
      There is extreme variation in the quality of health care in the region. Taking the US dollar value alone would distort what is actually received, therefore the most accurate basis for comparison is on what is called a purchasing power parity basis.
      On this basis, total per capita health expenditure ranges in the region from Malawi's 45 to SA's 552, and SA's per capita spending on health is about 11% of what is spent in the US. In Malawi and Mozambique there are only about three trained physicians for every 100000 people, and in SA over 56, compared with nearly 280 in the US.
      It is likely that only a small minority will have access to antiretrovirals even if the price does fall dramatically. These are likely to be government workers and some in the formal sector covered by private health insurance.
      If the public health system only provides limited access to retrovirals, the question is who should be given this.
      In certain areas the decision is based on circumstances alone. If public health services begin to provide treatment, luck of proximity to a centre that can manage the treatment could be one determining factor.
      The SA government recently embarked on a pilot project for the provision of antiretrovirals to prevent mother-to-child transmissions. In budgetary terms, this is an easier decision than general access as the prevention of mother-to-child transmission is a saving. HIV-negative children do not burden the health system with repeated visits to hospitals.
      But as the price of antiretrovirals falls, governments are going to find themselves sitting on a political time bomb.


      *****

      Batty Bob turns bully-boy and
      blasts Britain

      Harare | Monday

      ZIMBABWEAN President Robert Mugabe vowed to crack down
      on the opposition on Sunday, describing them as "terrorists"
      sponsored by the British government.
      In an emotional speech during the state funeral of a murdered
      ruling party militant whose death he blamed on opposition
      activists, Mugabe issued a warning to Britain, the former colonial
      power in Zimbabwe.
      "Let it be heard in the tall towers of London, in their tall towers
      elsewhere . . we shall never, ever brook (tolerate) attempts to
      subject us directly or indirectly to colonial rule," Mugabe said.
      In his comments, Mugabe, known for making inflammatory
      statements, appeared to be making reference to the September
      11 attacks on the United States.
      In London, a British Foreign Office representative speaking on
      customary condition of anonymity, said that any suggestion that
      Britain was supporting any kind of terrorism was "absurd."
      The representative said Britain has helped fund the Zimbabwean
      opposition, specifically through the Westminster Foundation for
      Democracy, a government body set up in 1992 to support
      democracy around the world.
      Zimbabwe's farming districts have been convulsed by chaos over
      the past 18 months, when ruling party militants began
      occupations of 1 700 white-owned farms, demanding they be
      redistributed to landless blacks.
      The government has since embarked on a plan to seize 5 000
      farms - nearly all the farms owned by whites - without paying
      compensation.
      Opposition officials accuse the government of using land seizures
      to garner support and intimidate opponents ahead of presidential
      elections scheduled for next year.
      The opposition is running on a platform of open and accountable
      government and its supporters range from black power activists to
      conservative whites. It has an especially large following among
      urban educated black Zimbabweans.
      Bracing for possible violence, the streets of the capital city of
      Harare were filled with hundreds of paramilitary officers with rifles
      and machine guns on Sunday.
      In his speech, Mugabe said that activists for the Movement for
      Democratic Change were responsible for the Nov. 5 abduction and
      murder of Cain Nkala, a leading ruling party militant who was
      declared a national hero posthumously by the government.
      "(It) was the brutal outcome of a much wider terrorist plot by
      internal, and external terrorist forces with plenty of funding from
      some commercial farmers and organizations like the Westminster
      Foundation, which we have established beyond doubt gets its
      dirty money from dirty tricks, from the British Labour Party, the
      Conservative Party and Liberal Party and also of course from the
      government of Tony Blair," Mugabe said.
      Mugabe supporters held up signs at the cemetery that read, "Kill
      All Terrorists."
      Nkala's body was found strangled in the western city of Bulawayo
      and MDC officials have denied any connection to his death.
      Nkala was known for leading many violent farm occupations in the
      Bulawayo area.
      There has been widespread violence since Nkala's murder.
      On Friday, ruling party militants firebombed offices of the
      opposition MDC in Bulawayo, and randomly beat whites on the
      city's streets.
      MDC officials were told on Sunday that paramilitary units had
      been deployed near their headquarters in Harare to protect them
      from possible attack by ruling party militants after Nkala's funeral.
      MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube denied Mugabe's
      allegations that the party, which holds 56 of the 120 elected
      parliamentary seats, has turned to violence.
      At least 14 MDC members have been arrested in connection to
      the murder but have not been allowed to see their lawyers. Ncube
      said they have been tortured into making bogus confessions.
      Ncube has suggested that Nkala was killed by fellow members of
      the ruling Zanu party in order to prevent him from testifying about
      violence committed by party members.
      A report in the independent newspaper, The Sunday Standard,
      quoted associates of Nkala saying he was about to fly to Britain
      to testify there on the unrest when he was abducted from his
      home by armed men. - Sapa-AFP

      *****

      Harare limits farm sizes

      The government in Zimbabwe has introduced a
      new regulation restricting the size of
      commercial farms not earmarked for seizure to
      a maximum of 2,000 hectares (about 20 square
      km).

      The ruling requires the excess land to be given
      over to landless black Zimbabweans.

      Agriculture Minister Joseph Made said the new
      law would be applied on a sliding scale
      depending on the type of land.

      He said the lower limit for the size of
      commercial farming land and property owned
      by foreign nationals under the new rule would
      be 250 hectares (2.5 square km).

      The minister said the government believed
      smaller farms and related enterprises to be
      more effective than the current large
      concerns.

      *****

      An interview with Zimbabwe's MDC presidential candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai.

      http://www.mg.co.za/mg/za/archive/2001nov/features/19nov-zim.html
    • 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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