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  • Christine Chumbler
    Violent Land Clashes in Malawi African Eye News Service (Nelspruit) February 11, 2002 Posted to the web February 11, 2002 Brian Ligomeka Blantyre Two
    Message 1 of 1046 , Feb 11, 2002
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      Violent Land Clashes in Malawi

      African Eye News Service (Nelspruit)
      February 11, 2002
      Posted to the web February 11, 2002
      Brian Ligomeka
      Blantyre
      Two traditional chiefs and 20 villagers were arrested in Malawi last week following violent clashes over land in the Mzimba and Kasungu districts.
      Police arrested the suspects on Wednesday after more than a week of fighting between the subjects of Chief Simulemba in Kasungu and Chief Mabulaba in Mzimba.
      The land dispute arose after one of Mabulaba's village headmen, Mateyu Damaseko Shaba, allegedly helped himself to crops from a Simulemba villager' s garden.
      Shaba claimed the garden encroached on his land and that the crops were rightfully his.
      A group of avenging villagers from the Kasungu district marched to Shaba's home on the night of January 27 and allegedly ransacked his property destroying crops and livestock in the process.
      Shaba was seriously injured in the attack and was admitted to the Mzimba District Hospital.
      Mzimba police spokesman Lawrence Sharra said they had intensified their investigations but stressed that land dispute was not their area of operation.
      Police will hand the case over to the district commissioner and other competent authorities, he said.


      *****

      Court Acquits Dr Banda, Tembo, Kadzamira,

      Daily Times (Blantyre)
      February 8, 2002
      Posted to the web February 8, 2002
      Penelope Paliani-Kamanga
      Blantyre
      The High Court in Blantyre yesterday acquitted trustees of Kamuzu Academy former President the late Dr Hastings Banda, MCP Vice-President John Tembo, ex-official hostess Cecilia Kadzamira and MCP Louis Chimango on charges that they misappropriated K87 million set aside for the construction of the school.
      Presiding Judge Maxon Mkandawire ruled after the Director of Public Prosecution Fahadi Assani applied "to offer no evidence" in a case where the four were accused of misapropriating K80 million in the first count and K6 million in the second count.
      Mkandawire applauded the DPP for taking a commendable step in applying for an acquittal after they found no substantial evidence to prosecute the four.
      "Where the is no credible evidence is better to ask for an acquittal otherwise continued delay would lead to percecution. I therefore find the four accused not guilty and I acquit them," he said.
      In his application earlier, Assani told the court that their investigations failed to get enough evidence to substantiate the case.
      The court heard that the said smoney was used properly for the construction of the school of which Malawi is proud today.
      "We do not have enough evidence and felt it is unfair for them to suffer unjustly," said Assani later outside the court.
      Lawyer for the four Gustav Kaliwo of Kaliwo & Company said the four were not guilty and should be cleared of the charges.
      Speaking later after the ruling, Kaliwo wondered why the state had taken three years to apply for an acquittal.
      "It is good that the DPP after realising that there was no evidence decided to apply for an acquittal," he said.
      The four were taken to court in 1995 for three counts but the first count "master fraud" was quashed by Justice Duncan Tambala in 1997.


      *****

      IMF Tells Muluzi to Cut Spending

      Daily Times (Blantyre)
      February 8, 2002
      Posted to the web February 8, 2002
      Mabvuto Banda
      Blantyre
      INTERNATIONAL Monetary Fund (IMF) has asked president Bakili Muluzi to immediately cut on spending, improve on governance and arrest corruption to reduce poverty and improve the welfare of Malawians.
      Washington-based IMF mission chief for Malawi Alfred Kammer told Daily Times yesterday the Fund's Managing Director Horst Kohler in discussions with Muluzi asked for urgent expenditure cuts to improve the depressing investment climate.
      "Overspending by government during 2001 resulted in high interest rates and crowded out private sector activity, which was acknowledged to depress investment and growth," Kammer said.
      He said the discussions, which focused on Malawi's fiscal programme, pointed out that gains in reducing inflation and achieving macroeconomic stabilisation in 2001 could only be consolidated if government spending was reined in.
      "The fiscal programme needed to be quickly brought back on track and immediate cuts in expenditure would be necessary and at the same time pro-poor programmes identified during the PRSP (Poverty Reduction Paper Process)," he said.
      Kammer said the one-hour discussions tabled corruption in Malawi and governance to attract investment.
      "More progress needed to be made in fighting corruption and improving governance to attract critical foreign direct investment and create an environment conducive to private sector-led growth," Kammer said.
      The Muluzi administration is reeling from low donor inflows, due to European Union (EU) Britain and US decisions to withhold aid citing serious corruption in government, economic mismanagement and poor governance. The situation has further worsened following the total cessation of aid by Denmark last week on similar reasons.
      Last week British Secretary of State for Overseas Development Claire Short at a meeting with Muluzi tackled governance issues in relation to the perceived interference with the judiciary.
      She said that her country will wait for the IMF mission meeting with government on February, 25, 2002 in Lilongwe before deciding to lift the suspension.
      The September minutes of the Monetary Policy Committee chaired by the Reserve Bank governor Elias Ngalande last year indicated that government spent K5 billion against revenues of K3.7 billion in August the same year creating a deficit of K1.3 billion in a single month.
      This was against budget projections of real growth in GDP of 5.1 percent in 2000 from 4.9 percent in 1999. But due to some problems, according to the then Finance Minister Mathews Chikaonda, real GDP growth slowed down and registered a growth rate of only 2.1 percent.
      Chikaonda had explained the decline reflected a contraction in some sectors of the economy like agriculture, manufacturing and transport.


      *****

      UK Urges Anti-Corruption Bureau to Probe Maize Scam

      Daily Times (Blantyre)
      February 8, 2002
      Posted to the web February 8, 2002
      Mabvuto Banda
      Blantyre
      BRITAIN has blamed the current food shortage in the country on the mismanagement of national food reserves and urged the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to fully investigate the maize scam.
      The British, who pledged K100 million for food relief this week, said yesterday in a statement that the mismanagement of reserves in the 2001 season has created the current crisis.
      "Britain and other donors have expressed concern about the management of national food reserves. The concern centres on Admarc's use of National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) supplies, the sale of which may not have been adequately accounted for," said the British government through its High Commission in Lilongwe yesterday.
      The British added that there are looking forward to learning the Bureau's conclusions on that.
      The maize scam, which has implicated some senior citizens because of buying maize from NFRA and selling at unaffordable prices, saw Admarc and NFRA*an institution mandated to sell maize*at daggers drawn last year.
      Admarc accussed the NFRA and the Minsitry of agriculture of exporting maize to Kenya despite warnings of seroius shortages.
      Malawi's former colonial masters and the country's major donors, decided to help last week after the British secretary for Overseas Development Claire Short met President Bakili Muluzi in London on his way to the U.S.
      The emergency assistance, according to the statement, will comprise 2,273 metric tonnes of maize for households and 450 metric tonnes of meal for Likuni Phala which will go to children under-5 years.
      "The food distribution will extend for one month and will focus on the very poorest people in the deficit of Mchinji. Save the Children Fund will source the maize from South Africa," added Michael Nevin, British High Commission's political and press officer.


      *****

      There are a couple WTO reports on Malawi on the allafrica.com website. They are too long to post, but here are the links...

      http://allafrica.com/stories/200202080477.html

      http://allafrica.com/stories/200202080476.html

      http://allafrica.com/stories/200202080475.html

      *****

      Newspaper attack in
      Zimbabwe

      Two petrol bombs have been hurled into the
      offices of Zimbabwe's main independent daily
      newspaper, The Daily News, in the second city
      of Bulawayo.

      Two petrol bombs were also thrown at the
      offices of a nearby private printing house, Daily
      Print, which has been handling campaign
      material for the opposition Movement for
      Democratic Change.

      The incident early on
      Monday morning comes
      amid rising political
      violence in the run-up
      to presidential
      elections next month in
      which President Robert
      Mugabe faces the
      toughest challenge of
      his 22 years in power.

      A Daily News journalist
      told Reuters news
      agency that nobody
      was injured and very
      little equipment damaged.

      "The petrol bombs were thrown through the
      window into the foyer, and the account we
      got from night guards is that the bombs were
      thrown from a moving car," the journalist said.

      On Thursday, supporters of President Robert
      Mugabe pasted the president's campaign
      posters on the front of the Daily News offices.

      The paper's chief reporter in Bulawayo,
      Mdududzi Mathuthu, said staff were told to
      leave the posters in place or the building would
      be burnt down.

      The Daily News' printing presses were blown up
      a year ago in a series of bomb blasts - but it
      has continued to publish - much to the
      annoyance of many within Zimbabwe's ruling
      party.

      Zimbabwe Information Minister Jonathan Moyo
      says the government is not seeking a
      showdown with a European Union delegation
      which arrived in the country on Sunday to
      observe next month's presidential election.

      The head of the EU team, Sweden's UN
      ambassador Pierre Schori, is expected to seek
      accreditation on Monday despite earlier
      warnings that he could be barred from
      observing next month's vote.

      Opposition and human rights groups say the
      chances of a free and fair election are remote.

      Monitors

      His arrival coincided with the cancellation by
      the police of an election rally by the opposition
      Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

      A new security law enacted in mid-January has
      given police sweeping new powers to break up
      political meetings.

      The EU has threatened
      sanctions against
      Zimbabwe if its monitors
      are not granted full
      access to the elections.

      Zimbabwe announced
      last week that it would
      not accept observers
      from six EU countries,
      including Sweden.

      Mr Schori arrived saying he expected to carry
      out his work despite the objections from
      President Robert Mugabe's government.

      "I intend to do my job properly, together with
      my team here, which is highly professional and
      will work in an unbiased manner," Mr Schori
      told the BBC.

      If Mr Schori or his team are barred access to
      parts of the country or parts of the campaign,
      the EU has said it will impose sanctions.

      Travel ban

      The European Commission, the executive arm
      of the EU based in Brussels, says it is
      monitoring the situation constantly, and EU
      foreign ministers are ready to decide on
      sanctions in the next few days.

      These include a travel
      ban for President
      Mugabe and his inner
      circle, a freeze on any
      assets they hold in the
      EU and a stop on
      longer term
      development aid.

      They have also said
      they will impose those
      sanctions if they
      believe that the voting
      has not been free and
      fair, or if media
      coverage of it is restricted.

      Mr Schori said the EU mission would "link up
      with other international observation missions
      well as with national monitors - and they are in
      the tens of thousands" to make sure there was
      no intimidation of voters.

      South African President Thabo Mbeki has said
      that he feels Zimbabwe's election will be free
      and fair, in spite of violence in the country.

      *****

      Thatchell challenges Mugabe: name gay UK MPs

      President Mugabe is being challenged to name the members of the
      British Cabinet who he alleges are gay. The challenge comes from
      human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

      *Since President Mugabe claims that Tony Blair*s Cabinet is full
      ofhomosexuals, he should substantiate his allegations*, said Mr Tatchell.

      *I challenge the President to name the gay British Cabinet Ministers*.

      *He won*t, and can*t, because there are none. Not one of Tony Blair*s
      Cabinet is gay or lesbian. Of 50 government Ministers, only Nick Brown *
      the Minister for Work * is gay*.

      *President Mugabe is not only homophobic, he is also factually wrong*.

      *It is quite bizarre for Mugabe to make homosexuality a major
      Presidentialelection issue. His obsession with gays in Tony Blair's
      Cabinet is an oddelection priority*.

      *Zimbabwe is facing ruin with rocketing inflation, mass unemployment and
      semi-starvation in many rural areas. All Mugabe can think about is
      homosexuals in Tony Blair's government*.

      *This is further proof that he has lost the plot and is unfit to lead
      Zimbabwe*, added Mr Tatchell.

      At last Saturday*s election rally address at Wedza, President Mugabe
      claimed that British Prime Minister Tony Blair*s Cabinet was full of
      homosexuals.

      "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 the rally.

      "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.

      *We were laughing yesterday and saying was it lack of the knowledge of
      biology that led these people to do what they do. My dogs and pigs at
      home always know which one of them is female and which is the male
      and it is never the other way among them", Mugabe told his ZANU-PF
      supporters.

      *Let*s teach these people a little bit of biology,* he said, referring to
      British government Ministers who he claims are gay.

      *****

      Recent SADC Meeting Crucial

      The Herald (Harare)
      OPINION
      February 8, 2002
      Posted to the web February 8, 2002
      A Special Correspondent, London
      When objective historians analyse the sequence of meetings preceding Zimbabwe's March 2002 presidential elections, they will conclude that the pivotal meetings were not held in Brussels, London or New York but at the Mount Soche International Hotel in Blantyre, Malawi.
      There, the leaders of the 14 Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) countries had gathered in the shadow of the towering Mount Soche to deliberate on the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) - and the Zimbabwean presidential elections.
      To deal first with the DRC issue: two leaders outside the Sadc grouping had been invited to attend the meeting. These were President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.
      In the event only Museveni turned up, Kagame having apparently been urged by Britain's Secretary of State for International Development, Clare Short, to whom the Rwandan leader is unusually close, not to attend.
      It was a fatal error by Kagame for Museveni had an unchallenged field day at the absentee's expense, as he spoke of greater numbers dying in the DRC conflict than in Rwanda's much publicised genocide.
      But the real issue, even though it was not on the formal agenda, was Zimbabwe's forthcoming presidential election. During this discussion, the DRC and Angola as non-Commonwealth members, and Museveni as an invited guest, kept silent.
      But the remaining 12 members of the Commonwealth weighed in with their support.
      Tanzania's President Benjamin Mkapa, the vice-chair of the Sadc organ on politics, defence and security, set the tone of the meeting by immediately and forcefully supporting Zimbabwe on the land reform issue and speaking his mind about Britain as the former colonial power.
      He recounted to the meeting that Britain's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Baroness Amos, had personally telephoned him and had tried to persuade him not to support Zimbabwe at the meeting or at the Commonwealth summit scheduled for Australia on the eve of the presidential elections.
      When she failed, Britain's Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, had then personally called him.
      Straw's request had been similar and, President Mkapa told the meeting, Straw had also been rebuffed. Other Commonwealth countries attending the meeting should do likewise and support Zimbabwe, he argued.
      South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki then added his voice to the tone that President Mkapa had set. To emphasise his point, President Mbeki later wrote about the Zimbabwean land issue in his weekly online letter to members of his ruling African National Congress (ANC).
      He sharply criticised the attention that had been concentrated on Zimbabwe at the expense of the Angolan war and the conflict in the DRC, adding that South Africans and Zimbabweans were brothers united by history, common suffering and a search for liberation.
      "They (Zimbabweans) know . . . we will not abandon them during their greatest hour of need, in much the same way that they did not abandon us at our greatest hour of need," he stressed.
      Indirectly, President Mbeki was answering his largely foreign-owned and white "liberal" Press that has continuously written about a rift between South Africa and Zimbabwe, with President Mbeki being cast as a British "mole" who opposed Zimbabwe's land reform programme.
      That same Press has blamed all of South Africa's economic woes on the Zimba-bwean land reform programme and none on the Western countries that fix the prices of Africa's products, including gold.
      President Mbeki urged all Sadc countries to work together for peace and democracy, adding: "None has a possibility to succeed while another fails.
      "We will, therefore, continue to do everything we can, steadfastly and systematically, together with all our neighbours, to continue to work towards the victory of the struggle for a democratic, peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe," he added.
      Namibia's Prime Minister, Hage Geingob, also threw his country's support behind Zimbabwe and so did Botswana's President Festus Mogae, after a series of questions were answered to his satisfaction.
      In the wake of the Malawi meeting, the Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo flew to Harare. He stressed that he had come to Zimbabwe to keep the process on course as agreed in his capital city, Abuja. He, and other Commonwealth leaders in messages of solidarity, also expressed their support for Zimbabwe.
      Thereafter the eight-member Common-wealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) meeting in London rejected the British-led attempt to have Zimbabwe suspended from the 54-member group for alleged human rights violations. This followed Britain's earlier failure to persuade the European Union (EU) to impose sanctions against Zimbabwe.
      The Malawi meeting, and subsequent events in London and Brussels, has left Britain and its allies isolated. Along with Britain, the "white" Commonwealth comprises Australia, Canada and New Zealand, which supplies the present secretary-general, Don McKinnon.
      He could become the first one-term secretary-general of the Commonwealth.
      While these four Commonwealth members may seek to "buy-off" some Caribbean and Pacific member states, it is now obvious that Britain cannot get the "consensus" it wants when Common-wealth heads of state and government assemble in Australia from March 2 to 5.
      That leaves the United States of America out on a limb over the sanctions issue and Straw will have had some explaining to do when he meets the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, in Washington in early February.
      The British were already extremely angry at Denmark's decision to take a lead role in supporting a regional peacekeeping academy in Harare which they felt was the role of the British Military Assistance Team (BMAT).
      Denmark announced last week that it was cutting aid to Eritrea, Malawi, Uganda and Zimbabwe because they maintained "dictators in power".
      The last three of these countries (Malawi, Uganda and Zimbabwe) are all members of the Commonwealth and Denmark's decision will only increase solidarity among Africa's 19 Commonwealth members.
      It may also be the prelude to the Danish Trade Union Movement, non-governmental offices in Harare being asked to close.
      Incredibly, the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has also entered the fray. In January, before Britain knew the outcome of the Malawi meeting, Blair's office announced that he would embark on a visit to African countries.
      Three weeks later when it was announced that Blair would be leaving on February 6 on his African visit, his office cited security considerations as their reason why details of the countries he would visit could not be made public.
      The British media was then forced to speculate that the countries he might visit could be Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Sierra Leone. No east, central or southern African country was included in that list.
      Ostensibly, Blair's African tour is to whip up support for the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). But in reality, and behind the scenes, Blair will be trying to cajole support for Britain's stand against Zimbabwe.
      Sierra Leone, where British troops have helped to quell rebels, and the new administration in Ghana, may have their own reasons to welcome Blair. But at the end of the day, Nigeria calls the tune in West Africa and Britain no longer rules the waves as Blair will soon discover.
      Confronted by such realities, Blair faces the prospect of returning home to London empty-handed to face the wrath of the media, trade unions and Conservatives who are already uncomfortable with his seemingly endless travels.
      Insofar as Zimbabwe is concerned, he needs a softer landing and it is hard to see where he can obtain that.
    • 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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