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  • Christine Chumbler
    Crop Output, Fiscal Stance to Draw Economic Success Daily Times (Blantyre) January 16, 2002 Posted to the web January 16, 2002 Thomas Chafunya Blantyre
    Message 1 of 1046 , Jan 17, 2002
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      Crop Output, Fiscal Stance to Draw Economic Success

      Daily Times (Blantyre)
      January 16, 2002
      Posted to the web January 16, 2002
      Thomas Chafunya
      Blantyre
      ECONOMIC performance this year depends on the crop output, donor inflow and fiscal and monetary policy stance but authorities, a financial expert has said.
      Joseph Mwanamvekha, Continental Discount House (CDH) Operations Manager said the question of the economy's performance rests on strong fiscal descpline by government which should go side by side with monetary policies.

      "There should be a proper blend or mixture of fiscal and monetary policies in that way we should see positive prospects that this might be a good year," he said adding that other policies should be geared to promote exports.
      He also said if Treasury Bill (TB) sales comes back into fashion as was the case early last year, private sector will be clouded out by the increase in commercial lending rates as adirect reflection of what rates are being offered on TB market.
      Mwanamvekha, said the rains parttern this year and good crop output should help to stimulate growth of the economy currently targetted at 2 percent coupled with evident donor confidence which is expected to result in real aid this year.
      "Last year end we were heavily affected by the recession in the United States and that now there have improvements in their quest to stem out terrorism, more donor support is expected to be realised to Malawi this year," he said.
      He said the lag effects of maize scarcity and high prices from 2001are expected to die within the first quarter of the year due to expected high maize yield.


      *****

      Economies Let Down By Weak Health Systems

      Daily Times (Blantyre)
      January 16, 2002
      Posted to the web January 16, 2002
      Daily Times Reporter
      Blantyre
      AFRICAN economies still struggle to keep economies afoot due to breakdown in health systems which also take large part of their budgets, Macroeconomic Commission on Health official has said on Monday.
      Proffessor Geofrey Sachs, an economist at Harvard University and chairman of the commission told Daily Times in Blantyre on Monday breakdown in health systems posed the major reason why Africa country still struggle to keep the economy on track.
      "Ofcourse, we have things like wars in several African countries, and political tensions in others but other countries who have stability like Malawi have their economies stagnant. This is because governments are struggling alone to make hefty allocations in their health systems leaving litlle money for development," Sachs said.
      Sachs who briefly presented the commission's report at the extra ordinary meeting of the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) leaders on Monday, said the countries inevitably need huge foreign aid to reverse the trend.
      He described the report's indicated figure of 25,000 people dying everyday in Africa due to curable and preventable diseases as tragedy.
      "Africa needs hundreds of billions of dollars to save people in Africa, there should be a political will to create a challenge fund on Aids, tuberculosis and Malaria and encouragement of good health practices," he said.
      Briefing the summit opening ceremony earlier on Monday, Sachs said Africa needs an immediate fund of US$25bn each year of which every country should have a lion's share.
      "Otherwise people in Africa will continue to die," he said.
      He said the commission had drawn recommendations to be undetaken by African leaders such as fast preparation to launch the global fund to fight malaria which Malawi has already made preparation and governments prepare national commission of macroeconomics to enhance immeditiate release of funds.


      *****

      Aids: Mother to Child Transmission Likely to Worsen

      African Church Information Service
      January 14, 2002
      Posted to the web January 16, 2002
      Hamilton Vokhiwa
      Limbe
      Health officials in Malawi say eight percent of the country's HIV/AIDS cases are the result of mother to child transmission.
      This revelation came as Malawi joined the rest of the world in commemorating World AIDS Day last month (on December 1,2001) amid a staggering one million people infected by the virus that causes AIDS.
      Up to now there is no known cure for AIDS, a condition that leaves the body defenceless against even minor illnesses.
      Medical experts say females are at a higher risk of contracting the virus, a development that shows the mother to child transmission is likely to worsen.
      Bizwick Mwale who is the director of the Malawi National AIDS Control Commission NACC says the transmission of the HIV virus from mothers to children was very high.
      Mwale, who is himself a medical doctor attributes this high rate to continued practices of bearing children before going for HIV test.
      The Malawi AIDS Counselling and Research Organisation MARCO has set itself the task of providing free HIV tests for willing couples and individuals.
      A considerable number of women avail themselves of these tests but, officials say, men shy away.
      In a related development, the AIDS commission announced the introduction of a drug known as Nevirapain which it is claimed, reduces the rate of transmission of the virus from mother to child.
      The drug is to go on trial in three districts of the country - Thyolo and Chiradzulu in the southern region and Chitipa in the north. These districts have been chosen because of their high population density and a high prevalence of the pandemic.
      Mwale said the drug which reduces the rate of transmission of HIV from infected pregnant mothers to their children, was currently being scrutinised by non-governmental organisations, the state and religious groups in South Africa.
      Latest statistics in Malawi indicate that the girl to boy ratio of HIV infection is 6 to one in a country which has so far registered over 70,000 orphans in a population of 10 million.
      At the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, the largest referral hospital in the country, 30 percent of women who go for ante-natal services are HIV positive.
      The problem, according to hospital officials, was aggravated by dependence on breast feeding due to high cost of supplementary feeds like milk, especially when the child was under six months.
      This year's theme of the World AIDS Day was Youth and HIV/AIDS with a slogan, "I care. Do you?" Apart from addressing the youth, the campaign was intended to create a sustained awareness on the role of men in the fight against the spread of AIDS epidemic.
      Researchers say that all over the world, men have more sexual partners than women. This makes the men and their partners more susceptible to HIV infection. An example of this is that men travel to places where they may have to pay for sex "to cope with stress and loneliness" of living away from home.
      The other factor has to do with male chauvinism. Many societies perceive men to be "superior" and powerful. As such, they exert influence over their families.
      AIDS counsellors believe that men could use their influential positions to promote change in behaviour in their families by showing good examples.
      "If men get the message and act responsibly (it would then be unlikely that) the wife or children in the house would act irresponsibly as all of them would be following the good example of the father," said Malawi's deputy Minister of Health, Elizabeth Lamba, in a press briefing to commemorate the World AIDS Day.
      The Population Services International is one of the organisations promoting the condom as a way to prevent the spread of AIDS. But some of its messages have not gone well with the Church and the civil society.
      Health experts say the condom was originally introduced as a birth control measure for couples that did not feel like having a child at a particular time. But in the event of the AIDS epidemic, the health experts accept the condom as one way of controlling the spread of the pandemic.
      The use of the condom is however questionable as technical experts believe the condom is not 100 percent effective in controlling or preventing AIDS transmission. Messages portraying the condom as life preserver have also been viewed as a way of promoting promiscuity and immorality.
      AIDS (Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome) was discovered almost 20 years ago, but todate there is no cure for the epidemic. The closest attempt to a cure has been the Anti-Retroviral Treatment, ART, which delays the multiplication of the virus in the body, thereby temporarily prolonging the patient's life.
      The government has reduced the price of the ARTS AIDS treatment through a subsidy by almost half from MK5,000 (about 74 US dollars) to MK2,500 (about 37 US dollars). However, this is still beyond the reach of the average Malawian.
      Perhaps Malawi's hope for a cure would be from a vaccine being developed by scientists of the AIDS Institute in the United States.
      Malawi is among three countries of the Southern Africa region selected for trials of the AIDS vaccine. The others are Botswana and South Africa.
      According to Max Essex who is Havard/Botswana AIDS Partnership director, a specific vaccine has been developed for HIV strain which is common in the southern African region.
      "We have identified other types of HIV in north and central America, but the one for the sub-Saharan region was the most widespread," says Essex.
      The programme in Malawi would involve volunteers identified through AIDS services organisations. Their virus would be frozen and sent to a laboratory which was officially opened by Botswana president Festus Mogae last December 1 to mark last year's World AIDS Day.


      *****

      CHOLERA EPIDEMIC SWEEPS
      MOZAMBIQUE
      A CHOLERA epidemic in eight of
      Mozambique's 11 provinces had
      infected 11 527 people and killed
      159, health officials said. The
      epidemic began in August in the
      central Zambezia province, where
      more than half the deaths had
      been recorded, Avertino Barreto,
      the deputy national director of
      health, told state radio on
      Wednesday. In the town of Tete in
      the northwest of the country,
      between 15 and 20 new cholera
      patients were reporting for
      treatment daily, said Fredrico
      Brito, chief doctor of the Tete
      province. The high incidence of
      the waterborne disease has been
      blamed on recent heavy rains,
      which have caused wells and
      rivers to become contaminated.
      Most people in this poor southern
      African nation of 18-million people
      do not have access to piped
      water. The health ministry has
      placed advertisements on national
      radio urging people to boil their
      drinking water and wash their
      hands before cooking. More than
      1 000 people died in a cholera
      epidemic in Mozambique two year
      ago. - Sapa

      *****

      Give Mugabe 'a chance":
      SADC official

      Gaborone | Thursday

      THE executive secretary of the Southern African Development
      Community (SADC), Prega Ramsamy, on Wednesday urged the
      Commonwealth to give Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe a
      chance and not to suspend his country.
      "President Robert Mugabe has made pledges and has to be given
      a chance to fulfil them," Ramsamy told a press conference in
      Botswana, two days after a SADC summit where Zimbabwe's
      March elections and political violence were high on the agenda.
      Zimbabwe's government policies will be examined at a meeting of
      the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) due to take
      place on January 30, after two years of political violence mainly
      targetting the opposition and white farmers.
      The main Commonwealth summit is due to take place north of
      Brisbane in Australia between March 2 and 5, five days before the
      presidential poll when Mugabe faces his strongest challenge in 21
      years of rule, from opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
      "It would be unfortunate if the Commonwealth meeting was to
      pre-empt the outcome of the Zimbabwean elections by dismissing
      Zimbabwe from the organisation," Ramsamy said. Such action
      "will only result in the hardening of attitudes."
      "We will try very hard to persuade Commonwealth not to sideline
      Zimbabwe as that will only cause complications. It will be
      premature to chase Zimbabwe before the elections as that will not
      achieve anything," he added.
      Mugabe had told SADC leaders of circumstances that led to the
      country's generals announcing last week that they would not
      support anybody "who had not participated in the liberation
      struggle becoming president of Zimbabwe".
      "He (Mugabe) said it was done through a general context of
      supporting the philosophy of liberation and independence that
      people fought for," Ramsamy said.
      "The army was also responding to false reports that they had
      asked Mugabe to step down."
      Last week, Zimbabwe's defence forces commander, General
      Vitalis Zvinavashe, declared that "the security organisations will
      only stand in support of those political leaders that will pursue
      Zimbabwean values" and the objectives of the "liberation
      struggle".
      Tsvangirai was not an active combatant in the 1970's struggle.
      The SADC summit issued a statement saying that it "welcomed
      the assurances by President Mugabe that the forthcoming
      presidential elections scheduled for March 9-10, 2002 will be free
      and fair."
      Leaders had said their main concern was the statement from the
      generals.
      Meanwhile, the BBC on Wednesday rejected allegations from
      Zimbabwe that its reporting on the country is biased, and urged
      Mugabe's government to reconsider a ban against its teams
      working there.
      "The BBC is deeply disappointed that despite our repeated
      requests the goverment of Zimbabwe continues to ban our
      correspondents and reporting teams from operating there," the
      Director of the BBC World Service Mark Byford wrote in a letter
      sent to the Zimbabwe Herald newspaper.
      "It also regrets that the government continues to make misleading
      statements about the BBC, which, had we been consulted, we
      could have corrected," the letter said.
      Persistent statements made by Harare and published in the
      Herald allege that the BBC is working to the remit of the British
      government and has been broadcasting in the native Shona and
      Ndebele languages.
      The BBC flatly denied such allegations in its letter.
      "The BBC unequivocally refutes any suggestions that the BBC is
      anti-Zimbabwe, is motivated by political end or is working to the
      remit of any government," wrote Byford.
      "The BBC World Service does not broadcast in Shona and
      Ndebele and we have no plans to do so," he added.
      The Zimbabwe government has clamped down on press freedoms
      in the build-up to its presidential election, due on March 9-10. -
      AFP

      *****

      Mugabe backs down on
      media law

      Parliament will reconsider controversial bills next week
      Zimbabwe's Government has agreed to amend
      its controversial media law, following a week of
      intense pressure.

      However, the changes have not been made
      public so it is not clear if the stringent
      regulations have been watered down.

      On Tuesday, a dissident
      MP from President
      Robert Mugabe's
      Zanu-PF party said that
      a proposed law enabling
      the government to ban
      trade unions was
      unconstitutional.

      Correspondents say these pieces of legislation
      are key to Mr Mugabe's campaign to win
      presidential elections on 9-10 March.

      Last week, parliament passed laws giving the
      police powers to disperse demonstration and
      banning non-government election monitors.

      Objective media

      On Monday, Mr Mugabe promised his
      counterparts from southern Africa that the
      elections would be free and fair and that
      foreign journalists would be allowed to cover
      them.

      The draft media law banned foreign
      correspondents from Zimbabwe and forced
      local journalists to apply for annual government
      licences or face two years in prison.

      "After some lengthy
      consultations with
      objective-minded media
      organisations and
      deliberation with
      honourable members on
      my side, I have
      suggested some
      amendments to the
      Access to Information
      and Privacy Bill,"
      Justice Minister Patrick
      Chinamasa told
      parliament on
      Wednesday.

      He said that Information Minister Jonathan
      Moyo would consider the changes before the
      new proposals were put to parliament in a
      week's time.

      Meanwhile, the BBC has urged Zimbabwe's
      Government to reconsider the ban on its
      reporters ahead of the elections.

      'Ratchet'

      Also on Wednesday, a senior United States
      legislator has confirmed reports that the US is
      investigating Mr Mugabe's foreign assets,
      ahead of possible sanctions.

      Ed Royce, chairman of the House of
      Representative's Africa Committee, said that
      the Bush administration would "ratchet up" the
      pressure to ensure that the elections were
      free and fair.

      Both Kofi Annan and the
      United Nations High
      Commissioner for Human
      Rights, Mary Robinson,
      have expressed their
      concern about
      Zimbabwe.

      "There is a real human
      rights crisis in
      Zimbabwe and action
      must be taken now," Ms
      Robinson said in a
      statement issued in
      Geneva.

      Eddison Zvobgo, who was sacked from cabinet
      in 2000 and is well known for his rivalry with Mr
      Mugabe, on Tuesday blocked the new labour
      law.

      He is chairman of the parliamentary legal
      committee.

      "The constitution prohibits... the registration of
      trade unions in order for them to come into
      existence," he said.

      As a result of these findings, this legislation is
      also now being reconsidered.

      Union power-base

      Zanu-PF does not have enough MPs to change
      the constitution.

      The opposition would require 19 ruling party
      MPs to vote against the government to block
      any proposed legislation.

      Mr Mugabe has been
      trying to control union
      activity for several
      years, after the main
      umbrella union grouping
      called a series of
      anti-government
      strikes.

      The Zimbabwe
      Confederation of Trade
      Unions (ZCTU) was
      instrumental in forming
      the opposition
      Movement for
      Democratic Change
      (MDC).

      *****

      Mozambique turns arms
      into art
      Mozambican artists have decommissioned
      weapons in a graphic way, taking them
      apart and using the remains to make a
      range of novel and eloquent sculptures.
      Thirty pieces from the collection, the work
      of the Transforming Arms into
      Ploughshares project, are on show at the
      Oxo Gallery on London's South Bank from
      18 January to 3 February.

      story and pictures at http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/africa/newsid_1764000/1764173.stm

      *****

      Mozambique's malaria
      emergency

      Hospitals are battling to cope with the epidemic
      By Jose Tembe in Maputo

      Authorities in Mozambique have expressed
      concern over the growing number of malaria
      cases, which has now reached epidemic
      proportions.

      The disease is now
      responsible for the
      largest number of
      admissions and deaths
      in the country's
      hospitals.

      Health authorities, who
      are battling to find an
      effective solution, have
      just launched an
      emergency campaign
      to spray mosquito
      breeding grounds with
      insecticide.

      But with hospitals admitting an average of 800
      malaria patients a day, the situation is
      becoming desperate.

      Emergency campaign

      Three of the largest hospitals in the
      Mozambican capital, Maputo, have now been
      forced to assign two patients per single bed.

      Last year the country's major hospitals
      registered over 280,000 malaria cases resulting
      in more than 1,200 deaths.

      The insecticide
      spraying campaign will
      first target low-lying
      parts of Maputo.

      Deputy National Health
      Director Avertino
      Barreto, says the sharp
      rise in malaria cases is
      largely due to the
      waters from floods in
      2000 which are yet to
      drain away.

      But a malaria research group has calculated
      that the anti-malaria spraying campaign will
      only help reduce the spread of the disease by
      5%.

      The group said it would have been more
      effective if the campaign had been launched
      earlier.

      Killer diseases

      Malaria continues to be the number one killer
      illness in Mozambique and the health
      authorities have been battling to identify a
      more effective treatment.

      The disease has become resistant to
      chloroquine.

      Another headache for health authorities is the
      water-borne disease cholera, which has killed
      139 people out of 12,000 cases since the
      epidemic broke out last August.

      They say the disease is now affecting eight of
      the country's 11 provinces.

      The worst hit province is central Zambezia
      which has registered 5,000 cases, resulting in
      74 deaths.

      The authorities blame the spread on the high
      mobility of people, bad sanitation conditions
      and poor drinking water.
    • 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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