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  • Christine Chumbler
    Councilor Escapes Abduction Daily Times (Blantyre) April 5, 2002 Posted to the web April 5, 2002 Penelope Paliani-Kamanga Blantyre A Malawi Congress Party
    Message 1 of 1046 , Apr 5, 2002
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      Councilor Escapes Abduction
      Daily Times (Blantyre)
      April 5, 2002
      Posted to the web April 5, 2002
      Penelope Paliani-Kamanga
      Blantyre
      A Malawi Congress Party Councillor for Kasungu District Assembly was on Tuesday abducted by two men believed to be UDF young democrats as he was heading for a meeting at the offices of the District Commissioner (DC).
      Kasungu DC Gift Rapozzo confirmed receiving reports about Bosiyana Kaomba's abduction, saying the he was supposed to attend a finance committee meeting but did not turn up.
      Rapozzo said Kaomba reported the incident after receiving medical attention from Kasungu hospital and reporting to the police.
      But Kasungu Police said it had not received any reports of abduction from Kaomba.
      An eyewitness, Grant Munga, said in an interview that Kaomba was abducted while on his way to a meeting at the DC's office.
      Munga said two men only known as Ben and Ali offered a lift to Kaomba claiming that they were also on their way to the to the DC.
      "Kaomba reluctantly accepted the lift but the vehicle instead of going to the DC's direction diverted to another route," he said.
      Munga said Kaomba frightened by the change of direction jumped out of the vehicle injuring himself in the process.
      "I rushed for the vehicle when I realised that it was going into a different direction. I found Kaomba grumbling and the vehicle run off without stopping. I took him to the hospital and reported the incident to the police," he said.
      Munga said Kaomba told him that the men were threating that they will deal with him because he insulted the president Bakili Muluzi.
      "As far as I am concerned Kaomba has never said anything insulting the president. I wonder why these people are making these allegations they just want to violate the councillor," he said.
      An MCP committee member Lozi Kamwendo expressed concerned over Kaomba's abductions.
      But a UDF member who refused to be named dismissed claims that Kaomba was abducted by young democrats.
      He said that he suspected that Kaomba was abducted by people who were angered by his action at Chamama.
      He said Kaomba was alleged to have stopped people from buying tobacco in the area.

      *****

      DCs Knock Out Independent Candidates
      Daily Times (Blantyre)
      April 5, 2002
      Posted to the web April 5, 2002
      Frank Namangale
      Blantyre
      Chiradzulu and Salima district commissioners (DCs) have written to the independent candidates in parliamentary by-elections in the districts stopping them from contesting.
      The letters come just three days after the High Court ruled that the Electoral Commission (EC) cannot disqualify them.
      Salima DC Bridget Muva said yesterday she was only fulfilling a technicality, because the DCs and not EC are supposed to write to the candidates. The Ec wrote straight to the candidates.
      'Those letters were supposed to be written by us, the Returning Officers. It was not proper for EC to do it. The independents associated with NDA and their nominations can't be accepted,' Muva said.
      Chiradzulu DC Sipho Moyo said yesterday although the Republican Constitution states that anyone has a right to campaign or associate with any political party, they have based their argument on the Section 17 (2) and (3) of the Political Parties (Registratin and Regulations) Act of 1993.
      'This is a situation where the National Assembly has to amend the Constitution if the Act contradicts it. We are simply following the Act,' Moyo said.
      The DCs' letters come after the Commission wrote to the two, Edward Sawerengera for Chiradzulu West and Allan Nthara for Salima North, dated April 1 and signed by Chief Elections Officer George Chimwaza, advising them that the EC has withdrawn their disqualifications.
      But in their letters, Moyo and Muva state the same reasons the EC cited when it disqualified the candidates, for campaigning with the pressure group, National Democratic Alliance (NDA), contrary to the Political Parties (Registration and Regulations Act) 1993.
      Lawyer for the independent candidates Chifundo Ngwira said yesterday the candidates have written letters requesting the EC to push back today's deadline set by the DCs for the candidates to respond and take the matter to the court.
      'The EC is likely to postpone the by-elections and that is acceptable by the law. These people have to be heard instead of deeming them not to have been nominated by today as the letters are stating,' Ngwira said.
      Chimwaza's secretary said yesterday the Chief Elections Officer was too busy to comment on the matter.
      The High Court in Blantyre on Monday stopped the EC from disqualfying the independent candidates. The EC indicated it was going to challenge the injunction, but later withdrew the disqualifications.

      *****

      Tobacco Prices Look Impressive
      Daily Times (Blantyre)
      April 5, 2002
      Posted to the web April 5, 2002
      Thomas Chafunya
      Blantyre
      SOUTHERN Division tobacco growers began the selling season yesterday on a high note when Limbe Auction Floors offered for bottom leaf Burley tobacco an average of US$1.80/kg (K135/kg).
      Lilongwe floors opened with an average price of US$1.60/kg (K120) on Wednesday.
      Soon after the Limbe floors opened, growers said prospects for higher prices this year were certain as Burley tobacco attracted the highest price of US$2.40/kg (K180/kg) and the lowest of US$0.80/kg (K60/kg).
      Growers heaved sighs of relief in random interviews, saying prices are expected to pick up as sales continue and when the upper leaf starts moving to the floors.
      'Lilongwe Auction Floors has an immaculate quality of tobacco but we must be mindful that the tobacco presented in Lilongwe is the upper leaf. Most growers in Lilongwe have already exported their bottom leaf. They were uncertain of what the price trend would be,' said a big commercial farmer who refused to be identified.
      James Lerho, a Mangochi-based grower in Namwera, said this year's opening prices were convincing and an incentive to growers.
      'Many farmers stopped growing Burley tobacco because of the price trend in the past three years. You can imagine that one's efforts to grow and process tobacco could earn you a mere 10 cents, that was horrible. But things have changed, we have very impressive opening prices this year,' he said.
      Finance Minister Friday Jumbe, who attended the opening of the Lilongwe floors on Wednesday, said he was convinced the prices will pick up but warned against too much optimism.
      Albert Kamulaga, president of Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama), said in Blantyre in an earlier interview that growers expected good prices this season as both presentation and quality of leaf were exceptional.
      The 2000 season opened with the historic low price of US10 cents at the opening of the Lilongwe floors, leading to a temporary closure until buyers revised their offers.
      Official figures show that during the opening day of Lilongwe Auction Floors 845 002kgs of Burley was sold at an average price of US$111.64/kg.
      Prices at the Lilongwe floors yesterday opened low recording the highest price of US$2 and the lowest of US60 cents.

      *****

      No Money for UDF Convention
      Daily Times (Blantyre)
      April 5, 2002
      Posted to the web April 5, 2002
      Frank Namangale
      Blantyre
      The United Democratic Front, which has not held a convention for the last nine years, yesterday said it has not been able to hold one because it had no money.
      UDF Director General Dumbo Lemani said the party had no money for a convention in the last nine years but promised it will hold one when the money is available.
      'We consider holding the convention as very important but it's unfortunate we haven't had money. We will hold one when money is available. We spend a lot of money to run the party, like buying vehicles and maintaining offices,' Lemani said.
      He also said the party, which pulled out of the Salima North parliamentary by-election two weeks ago, was spending a lot on campaigning for the by-elections.
      MCP, the main contender in the other by-election in Chiradzulu West, pulled out a week ago, leaving the UDF to face an independent candidate who may be barred by the authorities from contesting.
      Party Secretary General Katenga Kaunda concurred with Lemani yesterday saying the UDF is a democratic party and will hold a convention.
      He could not say when the convention will take place.
      Another party heavyweight, Harry Thomson, who last year chaired a task force to organise the convention, refused to comment.

      *****

      Fiscal Dicispline in Disarray
      Daily Times (Blantyre)
      April 5, 2002
      Posted to the web April 5, 2002
      Mabvuto Banda
      Blantyre
      GOVERNMENT was forced to raise an extra K1.3 billion in February to pay salaries for Embassies, clear foreign debt and some interest payments after Malawi Revenue Authority collectons failed to meet the months' expenditure, the National Economic Council (NEC) has said.
      According to NEC, February's expenditure of K3.7 billion included reimbursements to banks amounting to K2.5 billion, salaries for foreign missions of K127.729 million, treasury bills of K511.743 million, foreign debt and interest payments of K183.268 million, domestic debt and interest payments of K343.981 million as well as other foreign payments of K16.431 million.
      "Total expenditure for February amounted to K3,7 billion, slightly lower compared to K3,8 billion registered in January 2002," NEC said in its latest report.
      The report said government operations for February 2002 were not in line with the resources raised and resulted in a deficit of K1,336.867 million.
      It said the total revenue for February amounted to K2.4 billion which was K822.287 million less than the figure recorded in January.
      This comes against stern warnings from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the government to cut down on non-essentail expenditures.
      With a serious decline in reserves partly due to slow donor inflows which have caused the high inflationary borrowing from the Reserve Bank, NEC said government should tighten its monetary policy in short and medium terms.
      Borrowing from RBM as of Febraury 26, 2002 stood at K4.3 billion posing an enormous challenge in the attainment of reserve money targets.
      "The worsening of the fiscal performance indicates an urgent need for Government to restore financial prudence. A tight monetary policy needs to be maintained in the short- to medium-term. However, the long-term solution ought to include the implementation of expenditure control and revenue enhancement measures by the Government," NEC said.

      *****

      Opposition Spokesman Arrested
      Daily Times (Blantyre)
      April 4, 2002
      Posted to the web April 4, 2002
      Frank Namangale
      Blantyre
      Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesman Nicholas Dausi, who was arrested on Tuesday, was yesterday charged with conspiracy to defeat the cause of justice for failing to offer himself to testify in the Mwanza murder case in 1994.
      Dausi, who belongs to the Gwanda Chakuamba faction in the MCP, was arrested when the state controlled media broadcast his apology for the atrocities the party committed during its 31-year rule.
      Police Prosecutor Louis Luba read the charge in the court which Dausi denied.
      Luba said Dausi did not testify in 1994 when he seemed to have known something as the interviews on MBC and TVM revealed.
      Lawyer for Dausi Viva Nyimba of Legalwise asked the court to listen to the tapes and view video cassette on which the state is basing their evidence before he submitted, a suggestion shot down by the court.
      "The court would know if the charge is necessary or not after listening to them. The court can form an opinion if the offence was committed or not. We still have time to listen to the tapes," Nyimba argued wondering why one person can conspire.
      The State prosecutor responded saying the state is not only relying on the recorded tapes, but it has some witnesses not yet contacted.
      But the prosecutor asked the court not to release Dausi on bail because the matter is still under inquiry saying police were not offending any section of the Constitution and were yet to arrest others who conspired with him.
      But Nyimba complained that keeping Dausi in custody was harrassing him on political grounds.
      "The court should not be allowed to be used to harrass political opponents," Nyimba said.
      Presiding First Grade Magistarte Margaret Selemani adjourned the case to tomorrow for bail ruling.
      MCP supporters, soon after the adjournment, insulted and shouted at the prosecutor and police officers guarding Dausi warning them that Dausi should not die in custody like reggae artist Evison Matafale.
      TVM and MBC had interviewed Dausi soon after he apologised in front of participants at a serminar organised by British Council in Blantyre.
      The MCP spokesperson confessed the party's involvement in the killing of ministers in Mwanza among other atrocities.

      *****

      Villagers Overwhelm Food Supplies, Eat Wild Seeds
      African Church Information Service
      April 8, 2002
      Posted to the web April 4, 2002
      Peter Høvring, Act International
      Blantyre
      Villagers in Malawi, facing severe famine due to floods and drought, are eating wild seeds as a supplement to their diminishing stock of maize.
      Action by Churches Together ACT - member Evangelical Lutheran Development Programme ELDP has already started distributing food aid in some of the most affected districts. But the demand is much bigger than the stock.
      Charles Machado, the man in charge of Mapira's Maize Mill in Phalombe, a small town in South Eastern Malawi, is far from happy with business these days. In fact, he had to dismiss half of his four employees lately because of the famine in Malawi.
      "Normally we have up to 200 customers every day. Now, the number has dropped alarmingly to 40 to 50. People have simply run out of maize. They are bringing smaller and smaller portions of maize to the mills by the day," he says.
      In late March, however, there were frequent rains in Phalombe district. The common perception of famine related to brown and dusty colours was disturbed. In Malawi these days the fields are green. And normally green means fertility.
      But there is more to it than meets the eye. If one goes inside a maize field it is quite obvious that the maize plants have not developed a reasonably size of combs if any at all.
      The rains suddenly stopped in the middle of the season, affecting the crops severely. The phrase, Green Hunger, is adequate to the situation for Malawians living in the rural areas.
      Jacob Mtsunji, project officer with ELDP, shows how poor the crop is. Lots of maize plants have turned brown before time, yielding combs with less than 50 percent of the normal size, the rest are about two meters high, but without any combs at all. "They are completely useless, nothing will come out of this," he says.
      In the small village Phaloni in Phalombe district, the local farmers are eager to show the kind of local weed most of the villagers are forced to eat these days: Small seeds with very little nutritious value at all.
      But this is better than nothing. In Phaloni already 15 to 20 people have died from hunger, he claims. They are mostly old people and small children.
      One of the farmers says that his mother passed away recently - from hunger.
      ACT-member ELDP is distributing food aid in Phaloni. Together with the local authorities ELDP has identified the most needy people. They line up patiently to get their share of the goods brought to them by the ELDP-truck.
      They come from eight small villages, and they have already registered for food aid. They comprise the strongest members among the around 1,000 families in the villages. They are the few ones to have enough strength to come to the food distribution centre and carry the food rations back to the family.
      ELDP has distributed 12.5 tonnes of maize flour, two tonnes of beans, 2.5 tonnes of likuni phala (a highly nutritous food mix for children) and 705 maize seeds. ELDP will distribute a similar amount in Zomba and Karonga districts.
      "It is far from enough to meet the demand. It is important to continue the support. Already now we can predict that we will be facing massive starvation later this year when their poor harvest has been eaten,"says ELDP director Eliawony Meena.

      *****

      The Negative Effects of 2000/2001 Cropping Season
      African Church Information Service
      April 8, 2002
      Posted to the web April 4, 2002
      Blantyre
      During last year, Malawi experienced heavy rainfall which resulted into flooding and water logging in some parts of the country. By February last year, 15 of the 27 districts had been affected by floods and/or cyclone disasters, which consequently had a negative effect on crop production.
      The government declared the country to be in state of disaster in February 2001. Floods swept away crops, livestock, houses and people's property. In some areas continuous rains prevented people from doing their farm operations such as weeding or application of fertilisers which led to poor crop yields in most fields.
      Most farmers did not harvest adequate food to take them to the next harvest time. The food shortage in the country has reached crisis levels. The past six months or so the government has been talking of making maize for food (imported from South Africa) available on the market.
      The transportation of this maize into Malawi has been problematic and most selling points do not have the maize. In some Agricultural Development and Marketing Co-operation selling points people have been waiting in long queues for hours.
      Furthermore, most of the people in the rural areas do not have adequate income to enable them purchase food items. Consequently, many households have had to go without food. Others have survived on maize bran, a commodity that is usually given to livestock.
      Women and children are the most vulnerable groups because, in some cultural set-ups, women and children are the last to receive food after the men have had their share.
      In some parts of Salima, farming families have had their crops washed away again by floods due to heavy rains in January this year. This has aggravated the food shortage situation.
      The Malawi government sent an SOS message to donor partners and all parties of good will to come to the assistance of people in the country especially those in rural areas.
      Churches Action in Relief and Development CARD and ELDP monitoring of the situation indicates that the period between March to June this year will be very crucial in that most of small holder farmers in rural areas will neither have food nor cash to buy any.
      The harvest period in Malawi normally starts from the period May to June. It is feared most people will harvest their crops prematurely, a factor which may perpetuate food shortage in the country.

      *****

      Constitution Amendment Not Harmful - Minister
      Daily Times (Blantyre)
      April 4, 2002
      Posted to the web April 4, 2002
      Anthony Kasunda
      Blantyre
      Minister of Information Clement Stambuli yesterday said there is nothing wrong with parliament amending the constitution as long as it suits the need of people at a time.
      Stambuli told a rally addressed by President Bakili Muluzi in Nkhotakota that government totally agrees with issues, raised in the pastoral letter, one of which was on the proposed bill to allow Muluzi third term.
      The minister, however, said the onus to remove the president from office rests in the hands of the electorate.
      "If those who elected the president are impressed with his leadership, why shouldn't they ask him to continue. We are asking him to stand for UDF and not Aford or MCP," challenged Stambuli.
      Stambuli said there was no justification for Britain to be lobbying against the amendment of third term bill since there was no limit of term of office in that country.
      Muluzi said political, traditional and religious leaders should guide and lead people in development work instead of misleading them for personal gains.
      Muluzi said Western countries take advantage of poverty in Africa to dictate while they do the contrary.
      "These Western countries take advantage of Africa being poor and want us to do things which they are not doing in their countries," he said.
      During the meeting, former MCP die-hard in Nkhotakota, Kalowamfumbi Khofi announced through Stambuli his defection to the UDF party.

      *****

      MP Kara Still At Large
      Daily Times (Blantyre)
      April 4, 2002
      Posted to the web April 4, 2002
      Frank Namangale
      Blantyre
      POLICE's one week hunt for member of parliament for Dowa East Nasser Kara alleged to have murdered his driver in Nkhotakota last week has yielded nothing, Daily Times has learnt.
      Police Spokesperson George Chikowi said in an interview yesterday that Kara is still at large but challenged to arrest him, saying they were convinced that he is within the country.
      Police's challenge came in the wake of speculations that the murderer suspect must have crossed the borders in his attempt to escape the long hand of the law.
      "The wife is also still missing. Kara would be in a position to tell us the whereabouts of his wife when he is arrested," Chikowi said but could not commit himself to imagine what could have happened to the wife.
      Chikowi said Kara's bodyguard and his assistant Charles Kulemeka are still being held in custody, but could not disclose if they would be taken to court should they fail to arrest the MP.
      Kara alleged to have murdered his driver Alex Mbewe after failing to kill him with poison on their way to Mzuzu on the Lakeshore road.
      It is alleged that Kara killed Mbewe with a vehicle when the deceased dropped to vomit and bundled him into the boot before throwing him into a stream where the body was later recovered.
    • 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 8:06 AM
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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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