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  • Christine Chumbler
    It looks like allafrica.com is getting stories from The Chronicle again, so I ll be able to post more than just the Daily Times perspective on Malawi. That
    Message 1 of 1046 , Apr 2, 2002
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      It looks like allafrica.com is getting stories from The Chronicle again, so I'll be able to post more than just the Daily Times' perspective on Malawi. That said, there are stories kwambiri today, (although some are a little old) so I'll only post the highlights. If you want to check out the full selection, go to http://allafrica.com/malawi/



      Blantyre Taps Into Global HIV/Aids Fund

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      April 1, 2002
      Posted to the web April 2, 2002

      Joseph Ganthu


      Despite guideline difficulties faced by many countries, Malawi has managed to promptly respond to the Global AIDS Fund's call for project proposals in the fight against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

      The Global AIDS Fund last month placed Malawi on a list of countries to come forward with their proposals for the first round of grants and March 10 was set as the deadline for submissions.

      The Director for National Aids Control Commission (NACC), Dr Bizwick Mwale told The Chronicle that the team assigned worked tirelessly to meet the deadline since the period given was very short. By March 10 Malawi had already submitted its proposal which is targeting people living with HIV/AIDS, he said.

      Like many other countries Malawi had a problem in understanding the proposal guidelines set by the Global AIDS Fund which were only understood through technical assistance from the UNAIDS.

      Mwale said the call from the Global AIDS Fund for proposals concided with a project proposal targetting people living with the HIV/AIDS which had been already prepared for a year.

      We had already prepared a project proposal which took us a year preparing but looking into the proposal guidelines of the Global AIDS Fund we had a problem because it could not fit into the criteria set,' said the Director.

      In Botswana, according to PLUSNEWS, the country's coordinator for the National AIDS Coordinating Agency (NACA), Dr. Babu Khan also found the Global AIDS Fund guidelines difficult to grasp. However the secretariat received support from UNAIDS and other UN agencies which provided consultants. He also pointed out that it was not easy to come up with a proposal since they were given such short notice.

      The global HIV/AIDS epidemic has been most devastating in the sub-Sahara region partly because of deteriorating poverty, poor health infrastructure and weak social culture framework said Mwale recently at a VSO HIV/AIDS workshop in Lilongwe.

      He indicated that of the 34.3 million people living with HIV, 24.5 million live in sub-Saharan Africa, and Malawi with an estimated one million HIV people and over 400,000 orphans related to the HIV/AIDS epidemic is one of the most affected countries in the region.

      *****

      Millions Diverted
      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
      April 1, 2002
      Posted to the web April 2, 2002
      Joseph Ganthu
      The continued awarding of a multi-million kwacha tender to sell over 3,000 Malawi Government vehicles by public auction to only one company, Trust Auctioneers belonging to a cabinet minister has been viewed by many people as suspect and an indirect way of boosting the economic base of the United Democratic Front (UDF).
      The public auction which is to run in all regional and district government offices has, in Lilongwe alone already fetched over K40 million (K40,685,440.00) from sales made at City Centre, PHVO, Police-LIA, Area 14 and Lilongwe Central Hospital.
      Trust Auctioneers this week have wrapped up the Central Regional auction sales and the team will move to the South and the North. Last week they were visiting Salima, Nkhota-kota, Dowa, Ntchisi, Kasungu, Mponela Health Centre, Mchinji, Dedza and Ntcheu districts.
      People interviewed at random across the country suspect foul play between the Malawi Government particularly PVHO and Trust Auctioneers. All along the tender has been awarded to the same company leaving out other existing auctioneers with the same licensing fee of K60,000 per annum.
      'I think the government would have been fair if they distributed some districts to other auctioneers as a way of encouraging other business,' said a businessman who opted for anonymity adding that it would be more cost effective to deploy other auctioneers as well.
      Other auctioneers approached expressed concern over what they called 'unfair decision by PVHO for not sharing the national cake' to the rest of auctioneers and for accepting Trust's stiff conditions which discriminate against the poor Malawian. Trust demands the sum of K5,000 as a cash deposit plus a non-refundable entry fee of K50 from any would-be bidders.
      In The Nation newspaper of November 2, last year, the Malawi Government through PVHO Internal Procurement Committee ran a tender notice number PVHO/2001/003 looking for only one auctioneer to be appointed as Government Auctioneer for a period of 24 months to sell boarded off or surplus government plant and vehicles.
      In his defence, the Deputy Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Steven Nthenda, said the award of the tender was not made by an individual but experts from PVHO and independent valuers who looked at various qualities.
      Nthenda said, liquidity, performance and reputation were among several other qualities the task force team had to examine and consider for any bidder of the multi-million tender.
      'We chose Trust Auctioneers because it is the oldest and most reknowned and is a Malawi owned company,' said Nthenda pointing out further that on liquidity the company was much better than others who competed.
      But through a survey conducted by The Chronicle it was discovered that other companies in the same business and with similar and even greater liquidity were deliberately left out. Additionally, all auctioneers in the country are largely Malawian owned.
      In Lilongwe, both Lilongwe Auctioneers and Bhedas Auctioneers are capable of handling such sales as they both have the reputation and capital liquidity to undertake the task. Both would not be drawn into discussing the matter.
      Blantyre Auctioneers based in Lilongwe and Kesali in Mzuzu are also indigenous companies that could have been awarded the contract.
      On why the sale demanded a prohibitive K5,000 to an ordinary Malawian, the Deputy Principal Secretary, said the amount was set to sift out chancers and only allow serious and committed customers into the auction sale.
      But economic analysts basing on the principle of demand and supply said while the Government is auctioning off vehicles to cut expenditure and raise some revenues view the procedure as non effective because the K5,000 deposit has barred many Malawians from attending the sale thereby weakening competition.
      Additionally it is suggested that the high price of entry guarantees that only selected individuals can be assisted into the sales to keep the prices down and allow only those chosen to purchase vehicles at low prices.
      'The government can lose a lot of money by this manipulative system that tries to control the sales by not bidding against some to keep prices down while pushing the prices up should it be seen that someone outside the *selected few' has interest in a vehicle,' said a person who attended one of the sales and demanded anonymity.

      *****

      Hunger Affects Muluzi Project On Education
      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
      March 25, 2002
      Posted to the web April 2, 2002
      Joseph Ganthu
      The prevailing hunger in the country is having an adverse effect on State President Bakili Muluzi's promotional campaign on education as most enrolled pupils have eventually dropped out from schools as a result of malnutrition and weakness, The Chronicle has established.
      Despite the president's continued recorded radio messages encouraging children to be serious in attending classes for the betterment of their future and advising parents to refrain from child labour, most school children, it has been discovered, instead of attending classes are busily engaged in the hunt for temporary jobs in exchange for maize flour or husks.
      Since their parents have searched in vain for anything edible, some children have deserted their homes and spent their time lingering around district and mission institutions such as hospitals and secondary schools scavenging after left overs.
      In an address to the South African press recently, Muluzi declared Malawi a state of disaster following the food shortage that has hit the whole country. The president had earlier upon his arrival at Chileka Airport in Blantyre after a private working visit to Britain, Belgium and the United States expressed ignorance about reports that Malawians were dying of hunger.
      The Vice President Justin Malewezi on the other hand, briefing the press after meeting donors in Lilongwe said government is seeking immediate assistance in procurement, transportation and logistic capacity *to avert the worst of the crisis.' The Muluzi administration noting the high rate of illiteracy (65%) in the country, embarked upon a free primary education programme which doubled the number of enrolled pupils from 1.5 million to 3 million.
      Prior to the opening of the 2002 school session in December, the president launched a radio campaign in which he highlights the importance of education through a radio message tirelessly being run daily on the state Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Radio One and Two.
      However some people observe that the replays of the president's crucial message has began to fall on deaf ears since both rural parents and their children see no point in going to school on empty stomachs.
      A chairman of Parents Teachers Association (PTA) who refused to be named at one of the schools in Lilongwe recalled that in the past two to three years under the same Muluzi administration the Ministry of Education in collaboration with some NGOs and the Department of Disaster Preparedness used to donate maize to pupils from the least advantaged families to enable them to regularly attend class.
      'But this year, are the school children going to eat the continuous radio adverts,' wondered the PTA chairman who commended the idea of free primary education but expressed fears that the standard of education may likely decline due to the weakness and poor class attendance.
      Commenting on the standards of education in connection with the poor class attendance which has become the norm in most schools, the Director of Basic Education James Matola insisted that standards would not be affected but the individual performance of children who are always absent from classes will show some decline.
      Matola said it was normal at this time of the year for primary schools to experience poor attendance as parents ask their children to baby sit their little ones as they (parents) go into their gardens and even some children stay away from school to engage themselves in other activities.
      He said, since the entire country was experiencing a severe shortage of maize, a problem compounded by some bottlenecks in the transportation of imported maize it was not possible to supply a free maize programme in schools.
      Matola said although there is no maize for primary school pupils, the government has embarked on a programme in which maize is being donated to some community day secondary schools.

      *****

      UDF Young Democrats Above the Law ... As the Police Fail to Make Arrests
      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
      March 25, 2002
      Posted to the web April 2, 2002
      Suzgo Khunga
      The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has described the continued brutal acts by the United Democratic Front (UDF) Young Democrats as works of a group of people who are above the law since not even the law enforcers, the police can arrest them.
      In a letter from the NDA signed by its Spokesperson Ian Kanyuka addressed to the Inspector General of the Malawi Police Service, Joseph Aironi and copied to all diplomatic missions in Malawi, Human Rights Commission, political parties and religious organisations, the NDA has expressed concern that the police were not taking any action to curb the situation by bringing to justice the perpetrators of such violence.
      'We want to put on record our concern over United Democratic Front (UDF) hostilities towards the National Democratic Alliance, which have gone unchecked,' says the letter.
      It states: 'As victims and concerned citizens, we strongly urge you (as law enforcers) to take note of our grievances seriously and to address the situation urgently if the police service is to be trusted by the public especially this time when it is undergoing reform.' The letter mentions a series of incidents of political violence in which supporters of NDA have always been victims but the police had not taken any action against the Young Democrats.
      UDF's political intolerance was on 1st March 2002 witnessed at Chinsapo in Lilongwe where Young Democrats man handled and beat up four NDA supporters on instructions from Rashid Phiri Deputy District Governor for Lilongwe urban and Kachinda Jr., Lilongwe District Committee member, says the letter.
      The letter also says secret meetings were held on 27 and 28 February at Regional UDF Headquarters where strategies were discussed to attack Director of Media Council of Malawi Paul Akomenji who is now living in fear. The police have done nothing.
      On 15th February, the Young Democrats attacked and vandalised a house of Evans Kulemeza, NDA Regional Co-ordinator for the Central Region and the matter was reported to police but no action has been taken to trace the offenders.
      The Young Democrats on 12 February, trespassed into the premises of Sizokamba Keyo, NDA Regional Campaign Director for Central Region at Chigwirizano Trading Centre in Lilongwe where they uprooted an iron gate from his fence to threaten and silence him as NDA follower, says the letter.
      The letter further says, in early February the Young Democrats in an attempt to paralyse NDA activities, attacked and vandalised NDA District office at Chinsapo.
      The matter was reported to police but so far no action has been taken.
      When contacted, the Police could not react to the allegations saying they had not yet received the full text.

      *****

      Chihana Taken to Task By Aford Executive
      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
      March 25, 2002
      Posted to the web April 2, 2002
      Mallick Mnela
      Alliance For Democracy (AFORD) top brass have found themselves in a political quagmire demanding an explanation from their president, Chakufwa Chihana as to where funds to cater for the forthcoming convention would come from and accusing him of soliciting funds from President Bakili Muluzi of the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) party.
      These accusations are made in the light of reports that indicate that the party's account has long been closed due to fraudulent handling of party funds by top party gurus. Campaign Director for AFORD, Green Mwamondwe, who is also Member of Parliament for Karonga North West told The Chronicle that there was suspicion that Chihana had got some funding from Muluzi to host the convention to advance his alliance with the UDF.
      'The legitimate treasurer general is saying there are insufficient money and the bank account is closed, we are wondering as to where the money will be coming from?' Mwamondwe quizzed.
      Both the party Vice President Du Mhango and Mwamondwe were quoted in a daily newspaper as blaming their fellow AFORD members and not the UDF.
      'We cannot blame Muluzi for that, it is because of our moral decay and lack of principles that Muluzi has taken advantage of us. After all, he wants to strengthen his party and he has seen a weakness in us,' Mhango said.
      He also said that it was no longer a secret that the party was split and that it was high time the AFORD leadership explained its stance on supporting the idea of a Government of National Unity (GNU), among other issues.
      However, Spokesperson for AFORD Dan Msowoya dismissed the allegations describing them as baseless.
      'All those who are rushing to the press have other ulterior motives and they want to achieve their own agendas,' he was quoted as saying.
      'There is about K4 million that has not been accounted for. We want an explanation on this as well as on Chihana's political stance and his views on the Alliance,' Mwamondwe said.
      Mwamondwe said it was surprising to learn that Chihana and other party executive members were meeting president Bakili Muluzi on their own without notifying other party members.
      'President Chihana and his clique are meeting the head of state on their own, and we feel they are talking about going into government,' Mwamondwe said saying Gowa Nyasulu, Walani Chiume, Kuwali Msiska, Frank Mwenifumbo and Bitwell Kaonga are some of the people supporting Chihana.
      This, however, runs counter to president Muluzi's statement ruling out the possibility of the GNU when he visited the North last year saying that this only happens when a country is in a state of emergency. The President was reported to have said that there was no civil unrest in Malawi.
      Plans for AFORD to go into a GNU with the ruling UDF is also threatened by the amended, ill advised section 65 of the republican constitution which forbids political association among parties and individuals.
      He also warned that should the AFORD-Chihana faction join the ruling UDF in a bid to support a third term of office bid for the incumbent president, they would seek a common strategy, possibly by strategising with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Chakuamba faction of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and other opposition functionaries, to give a strong opposition to the unconstitutional behaviour.
      This, Mwamondwe threatened, would apply only when AFORD-Chihana faction collaborates with the ruling party.
      'If anybody dares to ignore the constitutional provisions under section 65, then why should we abide by them,' he stated.
      AFORD, the second largest opposition party after the MCP in the country, has started experiencing inside conflicts as is the case in the latter, where John Tembo is involved in a leadership wrangle.
      According to a Zomba-based political analyst who refused to be named, misunderstandings prevailing in the two major opposition parties can enable the ruling party to gather momentum even against the people's will as the people at the grassroots level will opt for a party that seems to be organized.
      'The deliberate infighting between Chakuamba and Tembo in the last elections in 1999 cost the party (MCP) the elections. They gave victory to the UDF.
      Now it has started in AFORD and it is very disconcerting especially when they should be working to establish unity among themselves and working at giving the party a more nationalistic appeal,' the analyst said.

      *****

      ADB Withholds K18.25 Billion in Aid
      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
      March 25, 2002
      Posted to the web April 2, 2002
      Joseph Ganthu
      Malawi not complying with Bank's rules, policies and procedures
      The African Development Bank (ADB) which has been providing financial assistance to Malawi since 1969 has suspended grants amounting to US$250m.
      (MK18.25bn.) for the country's development projects citing the fact that the Malawi Government has not complied with the Bank's rules, policies and procedures, The Chronicle has learnt.
      The suspension of financial assistance has seriously affected most ADB funded projects like the National Livestock development project where livestock owners now have to purchase their own chemicals for cattle dipping which were supplied by the bank. Other national projects affected include Lilongwe Forest Reserve Project, Macademia Nut Development, Karonga-Chitipa road, Agriculture Services and Women & Gender Development, among many others.
      Speaking in Lilongwe when opening a recent two week workshop to equip senior government officials with skills in loan and grant administration organised by ADB, the Deputy Minister of Commerce and Industry Phillip Bwanali expressed concern that the money lying idle in the Bank was costing Malawi since many projects were brought to a halt.
      'You may be aware that recently there have been a number of suspensions of disbursement on most of the projects financed by the ADB,' said Bwanali adding that the suspension has adversely affected implementation of many projects.
      In his closing remarks at the workshop, Secretary to the Treasury Patrick Chilambe, appealed to project implementors to adhere to economy and efficiency for an effective running of the ADB funded projects.
      Commenting on the suspended $250 million, Chilambe said if the rules and policies of the ADB were followed, the huge sum of money would be money directly benefiting local Malawians *which should have an impact to the economy in reducing poverty in the country.' On good governance another area highlighted by the ADB during the workshop, the Secretary to the Treasury urged senior project officers to be transparent, to be in support of human rights, to be accountable, to avoid corruption, to allow stakeholder participation and work within the judicial framework for success of any project.
      'Issues of transparency and accountability and combating corruption are very useful in project implementation and are easily integrated in the procurement of goods and services for the projects,' said Chilambe.
      In an interview with The Chronicle, Deputy Director Responsible for the Resource Mobilisation, Debt and Aid Management Department Macallum Sibande said since 1969 the ADB has assisted various projects in the country with sums in excess of US $650 million.
      Sibande said the Bank has supported all sectors of the economy such as agriculture, energy, infrastructure, industry, structural operations and public utilities.
      Among projects that have been successfully completed, Sibande cited the Lilongwe International Airport, the Gravity Fed Mpira Dam (Balaka), Rural Pipe Water, Rural Electrification, Urban Water Supply in Kasungu and Mzuzu, new district hospitals in Mchinji, Salima, and Ntchisi, and the Mchinji-Kasungu road.
      Subventions will only continue when the ADB is satisfied that the Malawi Government has fulfilled all conditions for receiving the development aid.

      *****

      Defiant Mugabe Rules Out New Poll

      By Angus Shaw
      Associated Press Writer
      Monday, April 1, 2002; 10:59 AM

      HARARE, Zimbabwe ** President Robert Mugabe, declared the winner in disputed voting last month,
      vowed to crush any civil uprising against his rule and dismissed calls for a rerun of the election, state radio
      reported Monday.

      The government will not tolerate attempts to make Zimbabwe ungovernable "by those bent on causing
      chaos, especially those who did not agree" with his election victory, Mugabe said.

      "Those who want to rebel and become lawless, we will deal with them firmly," he said. "They think we
      will continue to be soft. That's gone. It's finished. We are in a new phase and there will be a firm
      government."

      The radio said Mugabe was addressing a victory party Sunday in his home district of Zvimba, 25 miles
      southwest of Harare.

      The National Constitutional Assembly, a reform alliance that includes the main opposition and human
      rights, labor and church organizations, has called for street protests on this coming Saturday.

      In weekend advertisements in independent newspapers, organizers say the protests and a campaign of
      civil disobedience will go ahead in defiance of new security laws banning political demonstrations.

      The advertisements urged Zimbabweans to turn out in large numbers in the capital and regional centers to
      protest elections they say were rigged during voting and marred by political violence and intimidation
      against Mugabe opponents.

      Mugabe, state radio said, complained his victory "was not an easy one because the white community and
      the British wanted to see him out" and backed the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
      candidate Morgan Tsvangirai.

      Britain, the former colonial power, and other Western countries who criticized the election result wanted
      to protect the interests of their white "kith and kin" in Zimbabwe, Mugabe said.

      There would be no new election and "no nonsense will be tolerated from any quarter."

      The last protest organized by the constitutional reform group was broken up by police on Feb. 15. About
      40 protesters were arrested and hundreds fled baton-wielding riot police.

      Many local and international election monitors criticized the March 9-11 election as deeply flawed and
      engineered to ensure a Mugabe victory.

      Since the poll, Zimbabwe's 4,000 white farmers have reported an upsurge in violence, evictions, and
      looting of their property, which they blamed on retribution against them by Mugabe's militants.

      White farmers became targets of violence two years ago when armed militants loyal to Mugabe began
      occupying their farms with tacit government approval and demanding they be seized and redistributed to
      landless blacks.

      The opposition accused the government of cynically exploiting the land issue for political gain and using
      the farms as bases to terrorize rural opposition supporters.

      *****

      Zimbabwe Broadcast Chief Faces Probe

      By Angus Shaw
      Associated Press Writer
      Tuesday, April 2, 2002; 10:03 AM

      HARARE, Zimbabwe ** The government plans to investigate the powerful head of the state broadcast
      station on allegations of homosexuality, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

      The inquiry was prompted by allegations Alum Mpofu, chief executive of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting
      Corp., caused a disturbance Thursday at a Harare nightclub after being caught "in a compromising
      situation" with a man, the state Herald newspaper reported Tuesday.

      Mpofu has refused comment.

      President Robert Mugabe is reviled by gay activists around the world for outlawing homosexual acts and
      describing same-sex partners as "worse than pigs and dogs."

      The accusations against Mpofu came two years after Zimbabwe's former ceremonial president, Canaan
      Banana, was jailed for committing homosexual acts and indecent assault on members of his presidential
      guard in a case that deeply embarrassed Mugabe's government.

      Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said Mpofu, a ruling party loyalist appointed to lead the state
      broadcaster ahead of last month's presidential elections, "will be given a fair hearing and allowed time to
      tell his side of the story," The Herald reported.

      Moyo said the broadcasters' board of directors was asked to determine the truth behind the alleged
      incident at a night club owned by a ruling party lawmaker.

      Moyo recruited Mpofu, a Zimbabwean working at the South African Broadcasting Corp., last July to
      head changes at the ZBC that streamlined its role as a government mouthpiece.

      Mugabe, declared the winner in the disputed March 9-11 presidential election, scoffed in his campaign at
      homosexuality in Britain, the former colonial power he accused of backing the opposition.

      He repeatedly said British Prime Minister Tony Blair led "a government of gay gangsters and lesbians"
      who needed biology classes on human reproduction.

      Moyo said Mpofu's alleged behavior was "totally unacceptable" from a public official, regardless of
      whether a man or woman was involved.

      But Moyo also condemned homosexuality.

      "Sexual perverts need to be told once again that homosexuality is unnatural," he said. "The only people
      who accept homosexuality are liberals who think it is a way of getting votes."
    • 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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