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  • Christine Chumbler
    Malawi MP on hunger strike By Raphael Tenthani Blantyre A Malawian opposition MP has been on hunger strike for the past four days. Greenwell Lulilo Mwamondwe -
    Message 1 of 1046 , Apr 22, 2002
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      Malawi MP on hunger
      strike

      By Raphael Tenthani
      Blantyre

      A Malawian opposition MP has been on hunger
      strike for the past four days.

      Greenwell Lulilo Mwamondwe - an outspoken
      legislator with Alliance for Democracy or Aford
      - is protesting against what he calls the
      police's unfair handling of political cases in his
      constituency, which is in the northern district
      of Karonga.

      Mr Mwamondwe told me
      by telephone that had
      been surviving on water
      and tea without sugar.

      Mr Mwamondwe's woes
      began a few months ago
      when he led a group of
      parliamentarians
      protesting against Aford
      leader Chakufwa Chihana's increasingly cosy
      relationship with President Bakili Muluzi and the
      ruling United Democratic Front.

      Mr Chihana, formerly an outspoken critic of Mr
      Muluzi, has recently been talking about forming
      a government of national unity with the UDF,
      even though President Muluzi continues to give
      the idea a cool reception.

      'Peaceful country'

      Mr Muluzi has been taking Mr Chihana to many
      public engagements recently but the president
      says national unity governments are only
      needed in countries where there has been civil
      strife.

      "We are a peaceful country so I don't see no
      reason to form a government of national
      unity," said Mr Muluzi.

      The issue has split
      Aford into two factions
      and there have been
      violent clashes
      between youths from
      both sides, particularly
      in Mr Mwamondwe's
      constituency.

      Mr Mwamondwe told
      me that he had
      decided to stop eating
      because of the way
      police treated his supporters whenever they
      were arrested in these clashes.

      By contrast, he said, supporters of Mr Chihana
      were always released without charge.

      "I will continue my protest for as long as it
      takes for the police to change their attitude,"
      he said.

      *****

      Almost 1000 Cholera Deaths Reported
      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
      April 19, 2002
      Posted to the web April 19, 2002
      Almost 1,000 people have died from cholera in Malawi since November and about 33,000 infections have been reported up to mid-April, the national health department told IRIN on Friday.
      Most cases were in the central region, which saw 592 people die and 16,318 people infected, Dr Habib Somanje, director of preventive health services said.
      In the southern region, 364 people died and 16,257 were infected, while the north was least affected, with 30 deaths and 362 reported cases.
      "This is the worst outbreak in the past 10 years," he said, adding that the outbreak affected men, women and children equally.
      The causes of the latest outbreak were not yet clear, but the department was mobilising support from churches, traditional leaders and political organisations, he said.
      In addition, the health department had been caught off guard with the high number of infections and did not have enough drugs or rehydration materials, Somanje added. He also appealed to people to practise good hygiene to beat the epidemic.
      World Health Organisation (WHO) representative Ben Chandyamba said United Nations agencies would next week begin an assessment of the current food crisis and would include the social aspect in their study.
      Chandyamba said it was possible that the cholera outbreak could also be linked to starving people in peri-urban areas eating whatever they could find to survive.
      "They are eating anything you can think of," said Chandyamba.
      Meanwhile, Channel Africa reported on Friday that Britain would provide US $6 million in emergency food aid to the country, which is suffering its worst hunger crisis in 50 years. The British High Commission in Blantyre was quoted as saying that 35,000 poor families in the central Salima and Mchinji districts would benefit from the aid over the next two months.
      Britain, Malawi's former colonial power and largest aid donor, was withholding the first tranche of a US $122 million dollar aid package to Malawi pending improved fiscal discipline, the report said.


      *****

      The Dumping Ground
      As Zambia Courts Western Markets, Used Goods Arrive at a Heavy
      Price

      By Jon Jeter
      Washington Post Foreign Service
      Monday, April 22, 2002; Page A01

      LUSAKA, Zambia -- The flea
      market here is as dark and hazy as
      an opium den, its flimsy tin roof
      turning back the midday sun as
      Edward Mansa robotically
      unbundles the shipment of
      secondhand clothes that has just
      arrived.

      The dull, red DKNY T-shirt
      catches his eye. "This," he says
      admiringly as he holds the shirt up
      to the dim light, "is not bad." He
      says he can probably get a dollar
      for it.

      The shapeless plaid skirt is another
      matter, however, as is the dowdy,
      ruffled blouse and the
      banana-yellow sport coat that
      causes Mansa to shudder. He'll be
      lucky to get anything for them, and chances are Mansa will trade them with
      other vendors for some cooking oil or dried fish. "You can't afford to let
      anything go to waste," he says.

      Mansa provides for his wife, mother and baby daughter with the little money
      he earns selling hand-me-downs, the old and unwanted clothes that
      Canadians, Europeans and Americans donate to groups such as the Salvation
      Army or Goodwill. With more donations than they can use, the charities
      unload their surplus on wholesalers who buy the clothing in the West for a few
      pennies a pound, then ship it here and sell bales of it to Mansa and other
      street retailers at a markup of 300 percent to 400 percent.

      As Mansa peels an oversize Orlando Magic basketball jersey from one such
      bale, his eyes brighten. Even with its curious red smudges and loose threads,
      the jersey can go for as much as $3.

      "This is a gem," he says. "The young people really love the clothes they see
      the American rappers and the athletes wearing, but everyone -- young and
      old -- buys their clothes secondhand in Zambia. It is better-made than what
      our own clothing industry used to make before they all closed down, and it's
      certainly cheaper since it's used clothing. But is this the way to develop your
      economy? I don't think so."

      This southern African country once had a thriving clothing industry. But when
      government officials began opening Zambia's economy to foreign trade 10
      years ago in exchange for loans from international donors, tons of cheap,
      secondhand clothing began to pour into the country, virtually duty free.

      Not especially efficient, Zambia's textile factories were overmatched by the
      wholesalers, who could deliver affordable, passable clothing without paying
      production or labor costs or the tariffs that once protected local
      manufacturers from foreign competition.

      So, Zambia's clothing industry all but vanished. Within eight years, about
      30,000 jobs disappeared, replaced by a loose but crowded network of
      roadside and flea-market vendors beckoning shoppers to "rummage through
      the pile," or salaula in the language of Zambia's Bemba tribe.

      The expansion of global trade following the end of the Cold War has
      transformed Africa into a dumping ground for what the industrialized world no
      longer needs or wants, a deluge of secondhand clothes, used cars, old
      furniture and tools and weapons.

      The used clothing shipped to sub-Saharan Africa by the United States
      accounts for nearly $60 million in sales annually. The bales of old clothing that
      appear on Africa's doorstep are now so familiar entirely new idioms have
      been developed. Partly in derision, and partly because many Africans once
      assumed the clothing belonged to the recently deceased, Ghanaians refer to
      the imports as "dead white man's clothing." Tanzanians dubbed the garments
      "dyed in America," and in Zambia the used-clothing stands are called
      "bend-down boutiques."

      "You can walk for miles at a time here and not see anyone wearing anything
      remotely resembling African clothing," said Howard Gatchell, chairman of the
      Chamber of Commerce in Zambia's second city, Ndola.

      Hoping to undo the damage from decades of colonial rule, and the ruinous
      civil wars and socialist economies that often followed, nearly 40 countries
      south of the Sahara have over the past two decades adopted the free-market
      reforms -- "structural adjustment programs" in development jargon --
      prescribed by such lenders as the World Bank and International Monetary
      Fund. But in the generation since independence, sub-Saharan Africa has
      never been so poor.

      The region accounts for only 2 percent of all international trade, a share no
      greater than it was 20 years ago. New international trade rules developed in
      the 1990s have since increased world income by nearly $510 billion,
      according to the World Trade Organization; the World Bank reports that per
      capita income in sub-Saharan Africa has continued to fall over the same
      period.

      Why does the poorest continent continue to get poorer, even as the rest of the
      developing world shows at least tentative signs of economic expansion?

      The disintegration of Zambia's textiles industry provides some answers.

      Since Zambia's leaders embraced free-market policies in the 1990s, the
      country's manufacturing base has been eviscerated, leaving the government
      buried in more debt than it can repay and gradually replacing a full-time
      workforce with a growing informal economy that offers low wages, no
      benefits and no job security.

      World Bank officials acknowledge that the collapse of Zambia's textile
      industry is an unintended and regrettable consequence of the free-market
      policies promoted by the organization. And since 1999, the bank has been
      working with Zambia and other countries to integrate "poverty reduction
      strategies" with their traditional approach.

      "International trade is always evolving," said a World Bank spokesman,
      Raymond Toye. "And there are all kinds of constraints to doing business in
      Africa that maybe we haven't always accounted for. We want freer and more
      open trade in Zambia, but the question is: How do we do that in a way that
      recognizes and accommodates Zambia's -- Africa's -- unique history and
      situation?"

      To be sure, war and graft play a role in the inability of Zambia, a landlocked
      country of 10 million people, and many of its neighbors to capitalize on the
      trade-offs implicit in global trade. But much of the problem lies in the
      economies of sub-Saharan Africa. Relative to those of the developed world,
      they are still in their infancy, too fragile to withstand foreign competition for
      their own turf, too underdeveloped to produce much of anything the West
      values, beyond the raw materials that attracted colonial powers but are worth
      increasingly less on the world market today.

      "We've made the mistake of confusing the free market with development,"
      said Fred M'membe, executive editor of the Post, Zambia's only independent
      daily newspaper.

      "I'm not saying we should isolate ourselves from the world the way we once
      did, but we are not looking at how to develop our country. We are looking at
      how we can market our country to outsiders so they can come develop it for
      us. We are getting back to the same colonial equation where, in the land of
      our birth, Africans own nothing, control nothing, run nothing. We are soon to
      be aliens in our own country."

      Zambia surfaced from 75 years of British commercial and colonial rule in
      1964, inheriting a workforce with fewer than 110 college graduates and an
      economy dependent almost solely on mining. Copper, cobalt and zinc
      accounted for more than a third of the country's gross domestic product at
      independence and 80 percent of its export earnings. The mines employed --
      in one capacity or another -- almost half the workforce. At the same time,
      there were no large-scale textile producers in the country.

      Using the state as the economy's engine, the "humanist" government of
      Kenneth Kaunda, then Zambia's president, nationalized the mines, expanded
      the economy's manufacturing and agricultural sectors and walled them off
      from foreign competition with import tariffs. To improve the productivity and
      skill level of its workforce, the government provided free health care and
      primary education.

      Literacy levels rose. The economy grew. Within six years of Zambia's
      independence, nearly 85 textile manufacturers employed more than 10,000
      workers.

      Then the bottom fell out. Copper prices plummeted just as world oil prices
      climbed, and Kaunda turned to the donor community in 1973.

      "We had refused to borrow, but now we had no choice," Kaunda said in an
      interview. "I approached both the IMF and the World Bank and said: Look,
      we are in this precarious situation. Can we borrow? Their reply was, well, we
      think that copper prices will soon rise again, so please feel free to borrow."

      He did, but copper prices continued to plunge.

      Weary of the skyrocketing inflation and chronic food and fuel shortages
      caused largely by Kaunda's big-government approach, voters in 1991
      replaced him with Frederick Chiluba, a union leader whose Movement for
      Multiparty Democracy promised political and macroeconomic reform. What
      followed was the continent's -- perhaps the world's -- most dramatic and
      speedy transition from a command economy to the free market. Virtually
      overnight, the Chiluba government eliminated subsidies to farmers, slashed
      tariffs on imports, loosened the state's grip on monetary policy and began to
      charge "user fees" for public schools and clinics.

      By 2000, Zambia had sold more than 300 state-owned enterprises to private
      investors, including virtually all of the state-owned mines. The restructuring
      reduced inflation, stabilized spending and increased cash reserves. But
      illiteracy and school dropout rates increased. Zambia's debt has reached $6.6
      billion, and the annual payment on the debt is three times what the government
      spends on primary education.

      Zambia's factories have shed roughly 325,000 of 800,000 manufacturing jobs
      since 1990, according to government figures. Chiluba inherited an economy
      that included more than 140 textile manufacturing firms when he took office in
      1991. When he left office in January after his second term, the industry had
      been whittled to fewer than eight. About 30,000 of the industry's 34,000 jobs
      disappeared, according to the Zambia Association of Manufacturers.

      "The pay was not much," said Millie Mansa, Edward's mother. A 56-year-old
      widow, she worked at several textile factories in Ndola and Lusaka until she
      lost her job five years ago. "But even after my husband died, I could put food
      on the table. We were not rich, but we did not suffer."

      Now, she said, "it pains me to see my son go to work every morning selling
      these secondhand clothes for sometimes [a few pennies] a day. Zambia has
      given up so much to globalization."

      Used clothing began to arrive here almost immediately after the government
      repealed import taxes in 1992. With no duties charged for used clothes --
      customs officials listed their value at zero -- wholesalers realized they could
      create a new market without paying much more than freight costs.

      "We started buying secondhand clothes by the truckloads from America and
      Canada and Europe," said Jim Ebrahim, managing director of Central African
      Traders Ltd. Working with a Canadian cousin, he ships a truckload of
      secondhand apparel into Zambia, Congo and Tanzania at least once a week.

      "We pay $35,000 for each container," he said. "When we first started six
      years ago, we would clear about $6,000 profit for each shipment. But now
      there is so much competition that we only clear about $2,000 profit on each
      container."

      Zambia's textile producers simply could not compete with the influx of
      Western clothes. Even used, most of the clothes were made with superior
      machinery and cheap cotton subsidized by Western governments.

      "It was stylish. It was cheap. It was better-made," said Mark O'Donnel,
      chairman of the Zambia Association of Manufacturers. "Our industry didn't
      have a chance. We would have preferred for the changes to be phased in to
      allow our textile industry a chance to catch up to the rest of the world and
      really compete."

      "It's not just clothing," said Ramesh Patel, director of SWAPP Ltd. Clothing
      in Ndola, the heart of Zambia's struggling Copperbelt region. "We used to
      have factories everywhere, but Ndola is a ghost town now. We are one of the
      lucky ones who have managed to survive, but there's no comparison. We
      used to supply retailers with 3.5 thousand tons of clothing annually; we're
      down to less than 500 tons now. We had 250 employees eight years ago;
      we're down to 25 now."

      Millie Mansa was one of the workers to lose her job at SWAPP. Unable to
      support herself, she moved in with her son and his young family.

      Like eight of every 10 Zambians, the family survives on less than $1 a day.
      Roughly once every six weeks, Edward Mansa and his business partner, John
      Sakala, buy a bale of used clothing for $180. With a good bale, they earn
      about $240, splitting the profits evenly and reinvesting the remainder in
      another bale.

      "The key is to get a good bale," Mansa said. "Some wholesalers will let you
      inspect the bale first; others won't. We have found that inspecting beforehand
      to make sure that you have quality clothes is the most important aspect in this
      business."

      Millie Mansa has no romantic illusions about Zambia's socialist past, but the
      distinction she makes between the past and present is one repeated across the
      continent by those old enough to remember.

      "Back in the Kaunda era, there was nothing on the shelves but everybody had
      a little money in their pocket," she said as she sat cross-legged in the family's
      darkened hut on the outskirts of Lusaka. "Now the shelves are always full and
      we have things that we never before had in Zambia. But no one has any
      money to buy anything."

      Many liberal economists and development experts point to the shrinkage of
      Zambia's textile industry as evidence of the failure of the "Washington
      Consensus," the U.S.-driven policy to spur economic growth in the
      developing world through exports. Development leads to expanded trade, not
      the other way around, they say.

      "Zambia probably has the most liberalized economy in the world," said
      Lebogang Motlana, the U.N. Development Project's deputy representative
      here. "But 30 years into our liberation, we don't have the variety of industries
      to penetrate other markets, and we were ill-equipped for such a competitive
      mode. Maybe the government should have done more to care for the people
      and develop industries other than mining, rather than devoting so much of its
      resources and energy to free trade."

      President Levy Mwanawasa, Chiluba's successor, has pledged to adjust
      Zambia's one-size-fits-all macroeconomic approach. His party -- the same
      Movement for Multiparty Democracy that turned to free trade a decade ago
      -- has introduced legislation to eliminate user fees, lower costs for government
      medical care, restore agricultural subsidies and nourish industries that have the
      potential for growth.

      Mwanawasa has named his administration's economic program "The New
      Deal."

      *****

      Elderly couple leave farm after
      37-day siege

      Mazoe | Monday

      AN elderly farmer and his wife, who have been kept confined to
      their house under guard by Zanu-PF youth militia for 37 days, had
      to abandon their farm in Mazoe on Saturday as the farmer needed
      medical attention.
      The Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) said in a media
      statement on Sunday that the farm -- 30km from Harare -- was
      under a compulsory notice of acquisition, but the owners were to
      argue their case in administrative court.
      Thomas Bayley (89) and his wife, Edith (79) were both in poor
      health and their son and his wife -- who lived in another house on
      the farm -- had been forcibly evicted by war veterans a few weeks
      earlier.
      "Comments made to the Bayleys by the war veterans and police
      officers have led the Bayley's to believe that some 'big shot' wants
      their farm," CFU representative Jenni Williams said.
      The occupation began when war veterans arrived on the farm on
      March 13. They beat up the workshop foreman and his two
      brothers with steel bars and chains to get keys to the workshop,
      tool cupboards and diesel tanks. One of the men died from these
      injuries a week later, Bayley's son said.
      Two days later a crowd of about 40 people occupied the farm.
      A police assistant inspector came to the farm, but said he was
      unwilling to take any action before consulting his superiors. The
      next day the police returned to charge Bayley junior with
      possession of an antique set of traffic lights which he said he had
      acquired legitimately from the City of Harare scrap heap in 1988.
      The following week the district administrator, three members of
      the local Lands Committee and a police inspector came to the
      farm and advised the "war veterans" to vacate the security-fenced
      area around the house, but the war veterans refused.
      They then also evicted the farm workers from their houses and
      moved in, Williams said. - Sapa
    • 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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