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  • Christine Chumbler
    Aford And Congress Party Alliance Ends Daily Times (Blantyre) January 14, 2002 Posted to the web January 14, 2002 Tamanda Matebule Blantyre An executive member
    Message 1 of 1046 , Jan 14, 2002
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      Aford And Congress Party Alliance Ends

      Daily Times (Blantyre)
      January 14, 2002
      Posted to the web January 14, 2002
      Tamanda Matebule
      An executive member of the Alliance for Democracy (Aford) has warned that entering into a government of national unity (GNU) with the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) will split apart the party which has just ended an alliance with fellow opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP).
      Karonga Northwest MP Green Luliro Mwamondwe, who was not invited to the executive meeting which decided to annul the alliance with the MCP, said in an interview yesterday the party was making a grave mistake.
      Mwamondwe lashed out at the party bosses for convening a meeting without the consent of the full executive.
      "I am not aware there was that meeting. The shadow cabinet has no mandate to end the alliance. We feel sorry now because Aford is losing direction. I hope the next step will not be to work with the UDF because that will split the party forever," Mwamondwe said.
      He said abolishing the alliance without consulting the electorate and other party organs is a grave mistake.
      Aford announced it had ended its alliance with the MCP on Saturday, citing the leadership wrangle in the MCP as the reason for the break-up.
      In a separate interview yesterday, Aford's Publicity Secretary Dan Msowoya said the decision to break off the alliance was reached at an extraordinary executive meeting held in Mzuzu on Saturday.
      Msowoya said the opposition in the country has been failing to work effectively because the MCP is shaky due to its internal conflicts.
      "Aford wants to see a stronger opposition, we feel the political squabbles in the MCP makes the opposition porous and we feel we cannot continue being part and parcel of the MCP confusion," Msowoya said.
      Apart from the internal conflicts in the party, he said, some members of the MCP were not happy with the alliance and the break-up was meant to consolidate those against it.
      "We know the majority in the MCP camp has been against the alliance; now that it's over we hope they will resolve their problems and set their house in order," he said.
      Msowoya further said although the end of the alliance will spark mixed reactions, Aford will stand by its decision as this will strengthen the opposition in the country to work towards a common goal.
      When contacted, Lilongwe South East MP Hertherwick Ntaba (MCP) declined to comment saying his party had not been communicated to by Aford on the dissolution of the alliance.
      "We haven't been told anything by Aford so I can't comment anything now, let us wait until they tell us," Ntaba said.
      MCP and Aford entered into an electoral alliance in 1998 ahead of the 1999 general elections. Soon after the first presidential and parliamentary elections Aford also worked with the UDF in a coalition government.
      Recently, Aford president Chakufwa Chihana has reportedly met President Bakili Muluzi on several occasions raising suspicion that the two might be working towards a GNU.
      However, both Chihana and Muluzi have refuted the allegations saying the country is politically stable and does not need a GNU, which works wells for country at war or getting out of one.


      Africa in Need of Urgent Solutions - SADC

      South African Press Association (Johannesburg)
      January 12, 2002
      Posted to the web January 14, 2002
      Failure on Africa's part to deal with her economic problems would lead to the continued exclusion of the continent in a globalising world, SADC Executive Secretary Prega Ramsamy said in Malawi.
      Speaking in Blantyre at a Council of SADC Ministers meeting, ahead of an extraordinary summit scheduled to start on Monday, he said globalisation was a phenomenon that could not be ignored. Africa needed to mobilize resources to meet the challenges associated with it.
      Monday's summit, which will be attended by amongst others, President Thabo Mbeki, will look at arrangements for the latest round of Democratic Republic of Congo peace talks -- to be held in South Africa at the end of January, the ongoing conflict in Angola, the recent elections in Zambia, and the forthcoming polls in Zimbabwe and Lesotho.
      The weekend meetings preceeding the summit are aimed at deliberating the progress of the rationalisation programme of the SADC, and the transformation of the Organisation of African Unity into the African Union, due to begin work as a completely new organisation in July 2002.
      During his speech, Ramsamy reminded delegates that it was only through organizations such as the SADC and the African Union that people could hope to eliminate poverty, ignorance and disease in a spirit of collective self-reliance.
      "We in SADC are ready and able to play a full and active role in ensuring a strong African Union, for we believe with a strong AU, we can have a strong SADC."
      High on the agenda at Monday's summit will be the mobilization of resources for the Inter-Congolese Dialogue (ICD) scheduled to resume at Sun City in North West Province at the end of January.
      The ICD was suspended in Addis Ababa in October 2001, primarily because of inadequate funding.
      It is estimated that over R55 million will be required to support 300 or so delegates who are due to participate in the dialogue.
      Malawian Foreign Minister Lilian Patel, speaking at the opening of the SADC Council of Ministers meeting on Saturday, said the situation in the DRC remained a source of concern to the sub-region and the international community.
      While most SADC countries were enjoying peace and tranquility, the people of the DRC and Angola were being denied the right to peace and freedom, she said, adding that it was in the interests of all SADC countries to ensure closer cooperation on all levels.
      "The world is witnessing an economic decline in the global economy because the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York have impacted negatively on, among other things, tourism, trade, and foreign investment."
      It would take a long time to recover from the effects and for things to return to normal.
      SADC countries also needed to enhance security co-operation and be vigilant in the fight against terrorism as this affected all countries, she said.
      "As part of the war against this global threat, SADC member states should undertake to ratify the OAU Convention on Terrorism."
      Patel said the biggest challenge for the SADC would be to adopt and implement pragmatic and realistic economic policies in order to provide the majority of citizens with basic needs and necessities.
      The formation of the African Union was a positive step in the direction of economic prosperity, she said.


      SADC 'hopes' Zimbabwe poll
      will be free, fair

      GRIFFIN SHEA, Blantyre | Monday

      AN ambitious regional summit on conflicts in southern Africa
      opened on Monday with a call for Zimbabwe to ensure that its
      upcoming presidential elections are free and fair.
      "As the date of the presidential election in Zimbabwe has been
      announced, we are all very hopeful that the elections will be
      peaceful, free, fair and transparent," Malawian President Bakili
      Muluzi said in opening the summit of the Southern African
      Development Community (SADC).
      "We hope that will be so by allowing every Zimbabwean to
      participate effectively in the elections in the spirit of democratic
      principles and values," he said.
      Muluzi, who holds the rotating, one-year chairmanship of SADC,
      said free and fair elections are not determined only by the
      conditions on the days of voting, but by the entire process in the
      run-up to balloting.
      Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe will brief the summit on
      the situation in his country, Muluzi said.
      "I believe that our duty as SADC will be to listen and offer advice
      where we feel it is necessary to do so," he added.
      Muluzi also urged the assembled leaders to consider ways of
      ending the wars in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo
      (DRC), which he said were hindering economic development in
      the region.
      Talks on the DRC war got a boost overnight, when DRC President
      Joseph Kabila and met with two main rebel leaders through
      SADC's defence organ. Officials declined to reveal the substance
      of those discussions.
      Rebel leaders Jean-Pierre Bemba of the Movement for the
      Liberation of Congo (MLC) and Adolphe Onusumba of the
      Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) are also attending the
      summit talks as observers.
      Nonetheless, the outlook for real progress on the DRC was
      limited by the absence of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who
      decided at the last minute not to attend the summit, Malawian
      government representative Antony Livuza said, calling his
      decision "a setback."
      Kagame gave no reason for his decision not to join the talks,
      which leaders of all the other nations involved in the war are
      attending, Livuza said.
      Angola and Zimbabwe have deployed troops to support the
      Kinshasa government, while Rwanda and Uganda back the rebels
      who control the eastern half of the DRC.
      Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos is also keen to
      persuade regional leaders to treat his nation's main rebel group as
      terrorists and to win more regional cooperation in cracking down
      on their activities.
      But the region's most immediate problem is Zimbabwe.
      Mugabe last week set Zimbabwe's presidential elections for
      March 9-10, and then muscled through parliament two bills aimed
      at cracking down on the opposition while bringing out top military
      leaders to publicly support him.
      Meanwhile, violence by pro-Mugabe militias has risen during the
      last three weeks, with the opposition Movement for Democratic
      Change (MDC) reporting increasing attacks against its
      Police arrested 22 MDC members in Kwe Kwe in central
      Zimbabwe on Sunday following violent clashes with ruling party
      supporters who one day earlier burned down an MDC office in the
      MDC blames pro-Mugabe militias for killing at least 90 of its
      supporters during the past two years, while tens of thousands of
      others have been tortured.
      The 77-year-old liberation leader, who has ruled since the end of
      white-minority rule in 1980, faces his toughest-ever challenge from
      MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
      Four Zimbabwean rights activists, who had come to Blantyre to
      raise awareness of the country's political crisis, were arrested and
      deported Monday, apparently "at the request of the Zimbabwean
      government", their lawyer, Brian Kagoro, said in a statement in
      Malawian officials could not immediately confirm their arrests.
      So far SADC's influence on Zimbabwe has been limited.
      Mugabe has repeatedly promised fellow African leaders that he
      will curb the rampant political violence in his nation, only to keep
      pushing the country further into a crisis that has already had
      economic ripple effects through the region.
      The SADC comprises Angola, Botswana, the DRC, Malawi,
      Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, the Seychelles, South
      Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. - 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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