- US Withholds US $47m From Blantyre
African Eye News Service (Nelspruit)
April 30, 2002
Posted to the web April 30, 2002
The international monetary fund (IMF) has withheld US$47 million in aid to Malawi because the government failed to conclude 'greed reforms'.
The IMF has only granted US$8 million out of a promised US$55million towards a three-year poverty reduction and growth project.
The money was supposed to have been released following the conclusion of macroeconomic and structural reviews by the Malawi government.
But IMF resident representative Girma Begashaw said the disbursement timetable was not met because the reviews were still pending.
"Government will need to bring the programme on track by implementing the agreed macroeconomic and structural reform measures so that disbursements can resume," Begashaw said.
He said the IMF was working closely with government to create policies that would reduce poverty and restore macroeconomic stability to the country in the long run.
Malawi has been blacklisted by many foreign donors who cite non-compliance with structural reforms, lack of good governance, corruption and political intolerance.
Denmark withdrew support completely while Britain and the European Union are delaying budgetary support.
The Malawi government has since pledged to devise strict budgetary controls to win back donor confidence.
Finance minister Friday Jumbe said the government would suspend non-essential expenditure and reduce internal and external travel.
Malnutrition Aids Cholera Epidemic
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
May 1, 2002
Posted to the web May 1, 2002
Malawi is currently experiencing its worst ever cholera epidemic, and experts believe malnutrition, mismanagement and a lack of capacity have aided the outbreak.
The cholera epidemic has already claimed nearly 1,000 lives. It peaked in February and March with about 40,000 reported cases and is on a downward trend in terms of infection rates, said World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative Youcef Chellouche.
Malawi is also experiencing a severe food shortage that has left large parts of the population more vulnerable to disease.
Chellouche told IRIN on Wednesday that an inter-agency assessment was being conducted to establish what role mismanaged responses to the outbreak had played in abetting the epidemic. The assessment would also interrogate what impact the food crisis and malnutrition has had on the situation.
"This is not easy to conclude ... we will compile all the findings [of the assessment] around 17 May and we will have a common analysis of the roles of malnutrition and mismanagement," he said.
A key area of concern was also the lack of capacity to deal with the epidemic. "We've seen how ... from time to time, the problem is not mismanagement but that there is just no capacity," Chellouche said.
A WHO report on the current cholera situation in the country said: "Over the last five years Malawi has experienced cholera epidemics of varying magnitude. The current season, which started on 28 October 2001, is described as the worst that the country has ever faced."
By early April, 980 deaths were recorded and the number may have risen.
"So far, all of the 27 districts have reported at least one case except Rumphi in in the north. Lilongwe district where the capital city is located leads all other districts in disease burden with 5,537 cases and 160 deaths," the WHO report said.
Districts in the centre and south of the country were more affected by the current epidemic. WHO said districts that were close to natural lakes were especially in danger as this was "where the epidemic usually starts before spreading to other districts".
As part of an ongoing UN inter-agency assessment on Malawi's critical food shortage and related health impact, WHO and its health partners were to visit district health management teams, health facilities, and communities in the most affected areas.
The assessment would identify strengths and weaknesses of the current response to the cholera epidemic and identify immediate needs for support, and devise a plan for preparation and response for the 2002/03 cholera season.
Some of the questions that will be answered by the assessment are whether the outbreak was identified early enough, and whether the response was adequate.
Also under scrutiny will be factors that contributed to the high fatality rate and whether the key partners (Ministry of Health, UN agencies, NGO's and communities) were properly coordinated.
"With this information in hand, Malawi should be able to improve the response to the current epidemic and be better prepared for the next season," WHO said.
Fumes From Broken Incinerator Waft Into Hospital
African Eye News Service (Nelspruit)
April 30, 2002
Posted to the web April 30, 2002
Fumes from the dilapidated incinerator at Malawi's largest hospital are wafting into the wards, raising concerns of health risks.
Senior incinerator attendant at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Nelson Tayison, said the 40-year-old incinerator had not been repaired for a "long time."
"Government is making some efforts to install a new incinerator but we understand the project stalled due to lack of funds," he said.
He said he and his three colleagues were no longer issued with safety clothing and instead shared their overalls.
"We do not even have gum boots but are provided with two overalls, which we exchange when we change shifts every week," he said.
He said there was also a shortage of paraffin and firewood to burn waste from the hospital and that he and his colleagues often had to scrounge for cardboard to set the waste alight.
"Without firewood or paraffin we have difficulty setting waste alight, especially the waste from the maternity wards," he said.
Malawi's health minister Yusuf Mwawa said it was extremely dangerous for a health facility like Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital to have an ill-functioning incinerator.
"The government will ensure that a new incinerator is installed by the end of the year," he assured.
Blantyre to Review Sexist Bill
African Eye News Service (Nelspruit)
April 30, 2002
Posted to the web April 30, 2002
Malawi is reviewing a proposed bill to jail child and women prostitutes after President Bakili Muluzi rejected it because it discriminated against women.
The law proposed that convicted female prostitutes face 14 years in jail with hard labour, but Muluzi said he couldn't sign a bill that didn't punish their male clients.
"If the law only targets women and leaves out the men, who are the clients of sex workers, I will not sign it," Muluzi said.
On Monday, Malawi justice minister and attorney general Henry Phoya said the bill was being reviewed.
"We are definitely sending it back to the law commission since the president said he will not sign it," Phoya said.
Former attorney general Peter Fachi proposed the bill, which, if passed unaltered, would target commercial sex workers, pimps and brothel owners.
Guardian reporter arrested in
Harare | Wednesday
ANDREW Meldrum, a correspondent for London's Guardian
newspaper, was arrested on Wednesday morning under President
Robert Mugabe's new press-gag law, members of his family said
Police arrived at 50-year-old Meldrum's home at 7.40am and took
him to Harare central police station, a relative said.
He was with his lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa.
He was arrested under the Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act for allegedly abusing journalistic privilege and
It was not immediately clear what, if any, of his reports the charge
The charge carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail or a
fine of 100 000 Zimbabwean dollars.
Meldrum, an American citizen, arrived in Zimbabwe shortly after
independence in 1980 and holds permanent residence.
Two local journalists, Lloyd Mudiwa and Collin Chiwanza of the
Daily News, the country's only independent daily newspaper, are
still in custody after being arrested on Tuesday morning under the
Their detention was over a report by Mudiwa last week that
quoted an elderly farmer from a remote tribal area in northern
Zimbabwe as saying that a mob of Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party
youths had beheaded his wife.
The Daily News later reported that they had been hoodwinked by
the elderly husband.
The new press act became law on March 15, and since then
seven journalists have been arrested and subsequently released.
Among them are Geoff Nyarota, the Daily News editor, Iden
Wetherell, editor of the privately owned weekly Zimbabwe
Independent, and Peta Thornycroft, correspondent for London's
In the last two years, the country's independent media has
suffered constant state harassment. The Daily News has twice
come under bomb attack, the first in 2000 when a small explosive
device went off at its offices in central Harare.
In January last year its printing presses were destroyed in a
The government has also clamped down on visits by foreign
correspondents and most have to enter the country as tourists to
be able to report. - Sapa-AFP
Why Mugabe lost his cool
during UN meeting
Kinshasa | Wednesday
A DAY after a meeting in Harare between Zimbabwean President
Robert Mugabe and UN Security Council ambassadors ended in a
heated argument, an explanation has emerged as to the cause of
Journalists waiting outside the meeting on Monday in Mugabe's
office heard the diplomatic encounter degenerate into a shouting
match but were unable to hear the Zimbabwean leader's actual
Sources present at the encounter, which was aimed at
accelerating the peace process in the Democratic Republic of
Congo, where Zimbabwe has troops, explained over cocktails on
Tuesday night that the row began when US Ambassador Richard
Williamson delivered a bilateral message from Washington.
Williamson reiterated his government's sentiment that Mugabe's
recent election victory fell far short of being free and fair and that
the attendant abuse and killings of farmers and repression of the
media were beyond the pale, the sources said.
Suddenly snapping out of a rather convivial mood, Mugabe rose to
his feet, barely able to control his rage.
"Well I don't think George Bush won the US election!" he
"But I accepted the victory after the Supreme Court ruling."
He continued in this excited vein for a good 10 minutes, the
Asked if anything else of note occurred on Monday evening, one
diplomat present said: "Not really. But he did serve us fish
fingers." - Sapa-AFP
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
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
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.
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.
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