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  • Christine Chumbler
    7 injured in Rasta riot in Malawi Blantyre | Wednesday AT least seven people were injured on Tuesday when police used ammunition to quell a riot on the
    Message 1 of 1046 , Dec 12, 2001
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      7 injured in Rasta riot in

      Blantyre | Wednesday

      AT least seven people were injured on Tuesday when police used
      ammunition to quell a riot on the university campus in the town of
      Zomba, witnesses and hospital sources said.
      The riot erupted when police tried to break up a protest by
      dreadlocked Rastafarians, which university students and others
      had joined.
      Scores of people were marching in protest at the mysterious
      death of Malawian musician Evison Matafale, who died on
      November 27 while in police custody, said university law lecturer
      and human rights activist Edge Kanyongolo.
      The marching students also had demanded that parliamentarians
      leave a workshop they were attending at the Chancellor College
      Worried that the protesters would attack the lawmakers, police
      were called in and used tear gas, rubber bullets and live bullets to
      quell the riot, Kanyongolo said.
      The students fought back by throwing stones and other objects,
      but police managed to escorted the lawmakers to safety.
      Two people suffered bullet wounds during the running battles
      between protesters and police in Zomba, the former colonial
      capital, 70 kilometers from Blantyre.
      One was a student, identified by Kanyongolo as Fanikiso Phiri,
      who is studying for a degree in education.
      "The student's condition is serious. He needs to undergo an
      emergency operation to drain blood in his stomach. A live bullet is
      lodged in his lungs," said a nurse at a hospital in Zomba.
      The other person with a gunshot wound was an onlooker who
      could not immediately be identified, the nurse said.
      The protest on Tuesday marked the first time the Rastafarians
      have protested against the death of Matafale, a celebrated reggae
      The Rastafarians also protested in the commercial capital
      Blantyre, and in Thyolo and Mulanje districts.
      President Bakili Muluzi has ordered a probe into the death of the
      musician, who was the brother of senior politician Davies Kapito
      of Muluzi's ruling United Democratic Front. - Sapa-AFP


      Plans to Bring Food to Malawi's Poor

      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
      December 11, 2001
      Posted to the web December 11, 2001
      The World Food Programme (WFP) is drafting plans to help thousands of impoverished Malawians survive this year's maize shortages.
      WFP representative in Malawi, Adamo Diop-Faye, told IRIN on Tuesday that any food aid would be channelled through food-for-work programmes run by the agency. "The government asks that any intervention should be channelled through food-for-work," she said. "We are developing an emergency operation, which still has to be approved. We are trying to push for January. We're heading to the holidays, so it seems the first distributions will be in January."
      A recent rapid food availability assessment, conducted in the first half of November, said high maize prices were preventing the majority of Malawians from buying the staple food.
      The assessment, conducted by WFP, FEWS-NET Malawi and the European Commission Food Security Programme, said: "There is a general household level shortage of maize in the country, particularly from own production, and not necessarily food if other food crops are considered (as they should). Availability of other food crops notwithstanding, the number of vulnerable households is higher than normally expected."
      "Although it was difficult for the team to determine numbers or percentages of the most vulnerable households, discussions with key informants clearly indicated that there was a proportion of the population in all areas visited that needed various forms of assistance, the inter-agency report said. "The team assessed that between 10 and 25 percent of the population in the sampled Rural Development Projects could be highly vulnerable."
      Maize prices in Malawi have increased dramatically in recent months as maize shortages began to bite. Poor Malawians, particularly in the densely populated southern regions, have been particularly affected. Most of their crops were destroyed in floods earlier this year and now they cannot afford to buy enough maize to feed their families.
      The assessment said that to assist such groups, current safety nets programmes should be continued and expanded in affected districts, but that no free food should be handed out.
      "It is further recommended that any intervention be carried out as expeditiously as possible as we are already in the critical food shortage period (November to February)," the assessment added.
      It said that Malawians were using various coping mechanisms to ease their hunger. "Maize shortage at the household level has resulted in the unprecedented household consumption of other foods like cassava, potatoes, rice and maize bran. However, among these crops only cassava and rice can easily be transported and be kept for longer periods. Besides, production of most of these maize alternatives is localised. The team, therefore, urges caution against generalising and overstating the contribution of the maize substitutes to household food security."
      According to the assessment, maize is available in most markets throughout the country, but is priced out of reach of the ordinary poor, primarily because ADMARC, the government's maize marketing body, set the price of maize at MK17/kg. "The MK 17/kg ADMARC maize price has had varying impacts on the maize market. In areas where prices were generally lower, the ADMARC price has caused some price increases and vice-versa. The team is of the opinion that the ADMARC price has resulted in maize prices stabilising at a higher level than they would otherwise have been," said the assessment.
      According to Diop-Faye, the government is considering providing free food aid to the most vulnerable, including the elderly. The Malawian government could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. However, it said about two months ago that it would try to put aside about 60 mt of maize for free distribution to the most needy. Malawi has had to import 150,000 mt of maize this year.


      SADC ministers pat Bob on
      the back

      Harare | Wednesday

      ZIMBABWE'S President Robert Mugabe won a pat on the back
      on Wednesday from visiting African ministers when they ended
      talks by backing his land reforms and opposing potential
      sanctions imposed by the West.
      Ministers in the Southern African Development Community
      (SADC) "welcomed the legislative and other mechanisms the
      government was putting in place to guard against violence and to
      ensure transparency" ahead of March elections.
      The embattled Mugabe, who has run Zimbabwe since
      independence in 1980 and has come under increasing fire for
      stifling dissent, on Tuesday announced that a presidential poll will
      be held in March next year but gave no precise date.
      SADC ministers concluded two days of talks with a statement in
      which they also "expressed their concern at the distorted and
      negative perceptions of Zimbabwe projected by the international
      and regional media".
      They reiterated their opposition to
      efforts to impose sanctions ontf vulnerable households is higher t
      Zimbabwe for alleged rights abuses.
      The communique, issued early on
      Wednesday, stood in sharp contrast
      to recent statements from European,
      South African and US officials, who
      have warned of a breakdown of law in
      Zimbabwe. The US House of
      Representatives had endorsed a bill
      proposing sanctions.
      Mugabe's government has proposed legislation that would ban
      foreign journalists and require Zimbabwean journalists to adhere
      to a strict code of conduct.
      Another "anti-terrorism" bill, which threatens the death penalty for
      anyone convicted of acts of "insurgency, banditry, sabotage and
      terrorism," is widely perceived as a tool to crack down on the
      opposition party.
      Speaking to state media on Tuesday, Malawi's Foreign Minister
      Lilian Patel said that SADC supports Mugabe's plans to seize
      mainly white-owned commercial farmland to benefit the black
      majority - a programme which has been wracked by violence for
      almost two years.
      "We are not being influenced by the West," Patel said.
      "We have come here as SADC, not under some Western forces
      to demonise Zimbabwe."
      The two-day talks came three months after a heads of state
      summit in Harare, where Mugabe had assured his counterparts
      that he would rein in the violence.
      This week's follow-up meeting was attended by ministers from
      Angola, Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Mozambique, South Africa
      and Zimbabwe. - Sapa-AFP
    • 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.


        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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