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  • Christine Chumbler
    Thousands displaced in Malawi floods Thousands of people in central and northern Malawi have been forced from their homes by floods. A government official said
    Message 1 of 1046 , Feb 4, 2002
      Thousands displaced in
      Malawi floods

      Thousands of people in central and northern
      Malawi have been forced from their homes by
      floods.

      A government official said crops and livestock
      have also been destroyed after the river
      Dzongwe burst its banks following a week of
      heavy rains.

      Malawi is already facing severe food shortages
      and the flooding has further hampered the
      relief effort.

      A railway line and an important road bridge
      have been washed away in the past two
      weeks.

      The government is attempting to import maize,
      Malawi's staple food, but correspondents say
      that only a relatively small amount has arrived
      in the country, forcing the authorities to ration
      its sale.

      *****

      'Malawi corruption' halts
      Danish aid

      By Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre

      The Danish embassy in the Malawi capital,
      Lilongwe, has said Copenhagen's decision to
      withdraw all its development aid to Malawi with
      immediate effect has been prompted by
      Malawi's corruption and political intolerance.

      In a strongly-worded
      statement issued in the
      capital, Lilongwe,
      Danish Charge D'Affaires
      Finn Skadkaer Pedersen
      said "a weak
      administration" in
      Malawi since 1995 has
      made it difficult to
      implement development
      programmes.

      Mr Pedersen said corruption and misuse of
      Danish and other donor money has become a
      "markedly increased issue".

      He also said political intolerance by the ruling
      United Democratic Front (UDF) of President
      Bakili Muluzi as witnessed by
      politically-motivated violence and what he
      termed as "systematic intimidation of the
      opposition" has made it difficult for Denmark to
      continue assisting Malawi.

      Intimidation

      Recent ruling UDF-initiated attempts to
      intimidate judges in Parliament did not help
      matters, he said.

      "On this background, the Danish government
      has decided no longer to include Malawi in its
      list of programme countries and to phase out
      DANIDA's support to development and
      environment programmes in Malawi," Mr
      Pedersen said.

      "This means no new Danish development or
      environmental programmes or projects will be
      initiated in Malawi."

      The Malawi
      Government is yet to
      officially comment on
      the withdrawal of the
      Danish aid but already
      hundreds of jobs are on
      the line.

      Mr Ted Nandolo,
      executive director of
      Council for
      Non-Governmental
      Organisations - an
      umbrella group for
      NGOs in Malawi, says
      Malawi NGOs will suffer.

      Malawian NGOs, including environmental and
      good governance projects, get a chunk of its
      operating funds from Denmark.

      Mr Nandolo said that all civil society groups in
      Malawi have petitioned Copenhagen to reverse
      the decision.

      Sympathisers

      Sympathy for Malawians has been expressed
      by other Danish quarters.

      Ms Elsebeth Krogh,
      secretary general of
      NGO Churches Emergency Aid in
      Denmark, told Danish
      press it was shocking
      for Copenhagen to cut
      aid to Malawi, one of
      the poorest countries in
      the world.

      "It's shocking and undue to cut development
      aid this drastically," she said.

      Denmark's move comes just a week after
      President Bakili Muluzi lashed out at donors,
      accusing them of meddling in African politics by
      using their aid money to influence political
      trends on the continent.

      Recently, at a public he told Malawians that
      western nations have no right to tell African
      governments how to govern their countries.

      "We are poor yes but we are a sovereign state
      and nobody should teach me how to run this
      country," he told Malawians at a recent public
      rally.

      Relations between Denmark and Malawi soured
      late last year when Copenhagen was forced to
      recall its outspoken Danish ambassador to the
      country Orla Bakdal after an audit report he
      instituted, on how Danish money was being
      spent, revealed some anomalies.

      In 1999 Denmark gave $18 million in aid to
      Malawi, a poor southern African nation of 10
      million people. $87 million had been earmarked
      for the four-year period ending in 2004.

      *****

      Mugabe evades EU
      sanctions

      Three Tsvangirai supporters died last week
      The European Union has said that one or two
      election observers have been let into
      Zimbabwe ahead of the 9-10 March poll.

      The EU had warned that unless observers were
      allowed to deploy over the week-end,
      sanctions such as a travel ban would be
      imposed on President Robert Mugabe and his
      close associates.

      Last week, the
      Commonwealth rejected
      pressure from the UK to
      suspend Zimbabwe and
      also said it would send
      observers.

      The opposition Movement for Democratic
      Change said that three of its activists had
      been murdered and another four abducted in
      the past week in pre-election violence.

      "There has been no attempt to prevent us
      deploying some of the individuals who will take
      part in the core team," European Commission
      spokeswoman Emma Udwin told a news
      conference. "So there is no need to take a
      decision on sanctions."

      The EU hopes to have 150 observers in place
      before the elections.

      British ban

      After earlier saying that no foreign observers
      would be allowed, Zimbabwe relented and
      invited representatives from several
      organisations.

      However, Mr Mugabe said that British citizens
      would not be allowed and both the EU and the
      Commonwealth have agreed not include any
      Britons in their teams.

      Mr Mugabe says that
      the former colonial
      power is trying to
      remove him from power
      because of his plans to
      redistribute land.

      Rejecting calls for
      Zimbabwe to be
      suspended, secretary
      general Don McKinnon
      said that the most
      important thing was to
      get observers into the
      country, to help ensure
      that the elections
      would be free and fair.

      MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube said
      that the latest fatality was Tichaona
      Katsamudanga who died on Monday after an
      attack last month.

      Reconciliation

      The man who will contest the March elections
      against Mr Mugabe on Sunday urged his
      supporters not to respond to the violence.

      "I know there are those among us clamouring
      for revenge. I want to tell you that we cannot
      afford that," he said.

      "When we come to power we will pursue a
      policy of reconciliation because that is the only
      way to build a country."

      On Friday, Mr Mugabe opened his campaign,
      blaming the violence on the opposition.

      "We don't condone violence, but I'm not saying
      you should fold your hands if you are
      provoked," he said.

      *****

      Mugabe opponent enters
      fray

      Tsvangirai urged supporters to brave election violence
      Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai
      has launched his presidential election campaign
      with a call to oust President Robert Mugabe
      and return the country to the rule of law.

      Mr Tsvangirai, who heads the Movement for
      Democratic Change (MDC), was greeted with
      thunderous cheers at his first rally since
      entering the race, in the eastern border town
      of Mutare.

      Police had set up
      roadblocks outside the
      town and conducted
      document checks on
      MDC supporters on their
      way to the rally. Some
      were turned away.

      The rally came as international election
      observers prepared to enter Zimbabwe, amid
      optimism that Mr Mugabe would meet a
      European Union deadline for allowing its
      representatives into the country.

      The EU has promised to impose sanctions on
      leading officials of the ruling Zanu-PF party on
      Wednesday if the Sunday deadline is not met.

      No revenge

      Mr Tsvangirai warned his supporters that
      Zanu-PF would try to rig the election and
      called on them to turn out in large numbers.

      "There is anarchy in
      our country," he said.
      "It will be finished on
      11 March if you choose
      me."

      At the same time, he
      warned against a
      campaign of revenge
      on Zanu-PF if he was
      elected and pledged to
      set up a government of
      national unity.

      "We ask you to brave
      Zanu-PF's campaign of violence," he said.

      Mr Tsvangirai also promised more orderly land
      reform than exists under Mr Mugabe's
      controversial redistribution programme.

      "We want a land reform programme that
      benefits the whole country, that recognises
      that farming is a commercial venture and not
      just about pieces of land for peasants," he
      said.

      Rise in violence

      Mr Mugabe launched his campaign on
      Saturday, for what are likely to be the most
      fiercely contested elections since the
      country's independence in 1980.

      Human rights groups have reported a sharp
      increase in political violence in recent weeks.

      Domestic and international critics say a raft of
      recent legislation curbing civil liberties -
      including a stringent new media bill passed
      during the week - is indicative of President
      Mugabe's determination to stay in power
      whatever the cost.

      *****

      Zanu-PF - more than just
      Mugabe

      By BBC News Online's Joseph Winter



      People close to President Robert Mugabe say
      that he is the only person capable of holding
      the ruling Zanu-PF party together.

      This is because it is not - contrary to what
      many assume - a homogenous grouping happy
      merely to act as a vehicle for Mr Mugabe to
      stay in power as long as he wants.

      Like political parties throughout the world, it is
      riven by ideology, method, ethnicity and,
      above all, personal ambition.

      For at least a decade, Zanu-PF heavyweights
      have been vying with each other to take over
      when the 77-year-old steps down.

      But Mr Mugabe has so far managed to play
      them off against each other and remain on
      top.

      Dissent

      During the debate on the controversial media
      bill, some of these internal tensions came to
      the fore.

      Ruling party MP Eddison
      Zvobgo said the
      original bill was "the
      most calculated and
      determined assault on
      our liberties guaranteed
      by the constitution".

      Using his influential
      position as chairman of
      the parliamentary legal
      committee, this
      Harvard-educated
      lawyer succeeded in
      delaying its passage by two weeks and
      wringing some minor concessions from the
      government.

      Unlike others, Mr Zvobgo has never hidden his
      ambition to succeed Mr Mugabe.

      One of his closest allies, Dzikamai Mavhaire,
      then a Zanu-PF MP, told parliament in 1997
      that "the president should go". He lost his
      senior position in the party, as have other
      Zvobgo allies in his home area of Masvingo.

      Mr Zvobgo himself was sacked from the
      cabinet in 2000 and then also lost his place in
      the Zanu-PF politburo.

      Gravy train

      With the Movement for Democratic Change
      proving itself to be a credible challenger, Mr
      Mugabe felt he had to be able to focus his
      energies on the opposition, without being
      worried about which of his supposed allies
      might be stabbing him in the back.

      But Mr Zvobgo is not alone.

      Just after the 2000 party congress decided
      that Mr Mugabe would be its candidate for
      these elections, I met a depressed Zanu-PF
      MP complaining of a missed opportunity to "get
      rid of the old man".

      So why hadn't he spoken up during the
      congress? "The place was crawling with war
      veterans," came the reply.

      These so-called "young Turks" do exist but
      they are not ready to take the risk of openly
      defying Mr Mugabe.

      They know that doing so at the moment would
      certainly mean internal discipline - losing their
      seats on the political gravy train - and possibly
      worse.

      Socialism

      While some oppose Mr Mugabe on personal
      grounds or because they feel his star is
      waning, others have ideological differences or
      feel that the use of violence is wrong.

      On several occasions,
      ministers and even the
      vice-president have
      announced that illegal
      occupations of
      white-owned farms
      would cease, only for
      the president to
      over-rule them.

      Mr Mugabe has spent
      his political life
      espousing socialism. He
      is currently imposing
      price controls on a variety of staple foods and
      taking land from rich whites to give to poor
      blacks.

      But his Finance Minister, Simba Makoni, is a
      firm believer in the free market.

      He once said that Zimbabwe needs the rest of
      the world but the rest of the world does not
      need Zimbabwe - something his fiercely proud
      president would never admit.

      His understanding and belief in the global
      economy was intended to persuade
      international donors to resume their aid,
      suspended because of concerns over
      corruption and the land reform programme.

      But they knew that real power was
      concentrated in Mr Mugabe's hands and that
      however amenable and well-meaning his
      finance minister was, the president viewed the
      world through different eyes.

      Heir-apparent

      While Mr Makoni is well-respected outside
      Zanu-PF, the man currently best-placed to
      succeed Mr Mugabe is Emmerson Mnangagwa,
      the speaker of parliament.

      He was state security
      minister in the early
      1980s, when the army
      killed thousands of Mr
      Mugabe's ethnic
      Ndebele opponents.

      Some see his hand
      behind the current
      campaign of violence
      against opposition
      supporters.

      But many Ndebeles
      with bitter memories of the 1980s, even within
      Zanu-PF, would not welcome him becoming
      president.

      When the Mugabe era does finally come to an
      end, it will not spell the end of Zanu-PF.

      But the divisions and personal rivalries which
      are largely being suppressed for the moment
      will come to the fore and it may not be a
      pretty sight.

      *****

      Moyo accused of embezzling
      millions

      Johannesburg | Monday

      ZIMBABWEAN Information Minister Jonathan Moyo is facing the
      ire of two South African organisations and a United States-based
      aid agency for allegedly embezzling millions of rands.
      Moyo stands accused of absconding with R100 000 belonging to
      the television production company, Endemol, headed by
      President Thabo Mbeki's brother, Moeletsi.
      Moeletsi Mbeki confirmed the reports to Sapa, saying Endemol
      was considering co-operation with other claimants.
      He said they might attach and sell Moyo's luxury home in
      Saxonwold, Johannesburg, to raise the money he owed them.
      A Sunday Times newspaper report said Moyo was also facing
      legal action from the University of the Witwatersrand for allegedly
      disappearing with part of a R100-million research grant.
      Derek Swemmer, the Registrar of the university said the media
      report was misleading,and that the amount "involved is far less
      than R1 million".
      Swemmer said in a statement that Moyo was employed by the
      university as a researcher in January 1998 on a three-year
      contract.
      "Without the knowledge of the university, he accepted an
      appointment in the Zimbabwean government in mid-1999. He left
      the university abruptly in 2000 when it became clear that he was
      not undertaking the research which formed the basis of his
      association with Wits, but was instead involved in electioneering
      at the time of the last general election in Zimbabwe. Any claim
      the university may have against Moyo would arise out of the
      performance of his obligations to the university, as he continued
      to receive a salary until his resignation. The amount involved is far
      less than R1-million and is the university's own funds, not Trust
      Funds and is nothing like the massive sum reported by The
      Sunday Times."
      Moyo is also being sued by the United States aid agency, Ford
      Foundation, for an alleged illegal transfer of R1-million from its
      Kenyan office to a trust in South Africa.
      Asked for comment on the allegations, Moyo, who this week
      pushed through Zimbabwe's draconian media laws, told the
      Sunday Times: "I do not speak to the apartheid press."
      Meanwhile, Mugabe threatened to punish gay groups at a
      weekend campaign rally for his re-election, saying Britain was
      angry at him for his stance against homosexuality.
      Mugabe said British Prime Minister Tony Blair should "expose"
      his cabinet as full of gays before criticising Zimbabwe, according
      to the official Ziana news agency.
      "I have people who are married in my cabinet. He has
      homosexuals and they make John marry Joseph and let Mary get
      married to Rosemary," Mugabe told thousands of people at a rally
      in the rural district of Wedza on Saturday.
      "We are saying they do not know biology because even dogs and
      pigs know biology. We can form clubs, but we will never have
      homosexual clubs. In fact, we will punish them," he said.
      Attacks on Britain are staples of Mugabe's speeches, especially
      as the former colonial power has moved toward imposing
      sanctions on his regime over his increasingly autocratic rule
      ahead of the March 9-10 presidential election.
      Mugabe forced through parliament tough new security and press
      laws last month, even as the opposition and rights groups
      accused pro-government militants of stepping up attacks on
      people who oppose him.
      The 77-year-old president, who has ruled since independence in
      1980, is struggling for his political survival against a tough
      challenge from former labour leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
      International criticism of Mugabe's increasingly autocratic rule has
      stepped up during the last month, as his government has
      muscled through parliament a raft of legislation curbing civil
      liberties.
      EU foreign ministers last Monday gave Zimbabwe until Sunday to
      accept observers for the polls or face sanctions, including a
      suspension of EU aid, as well as travel bans and the freezing of
      assets for Mugabe and 20 others in his inner circle.
      But the Zimbabwe government made no statement on the matter
      on Sunday, and EU officials in Brussels and Madrid were
      unavailable for comment as to when the deadline would expire.
      On Thursday Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge said
      the European Union had no right to demand that Harare accept
      EU observers at the polls.
      Mugabe has invited several organisations to send observers
      including the EU and the Commonwealth, but he specifically
      excluded Britain from joining their teams.
      Mugabe also said the EU could come only as part of a joint
      delegation with the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific countries, which
      the ACP would lead. - 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

        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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