- High Court Decision Upholds Muluzi s Ban On Demonstrations UN Integrated Regional Information Networks June 6, 2002 Posted to the web June 6, 2002 In an aboutMessage 1 of 1046 , Jun 10, 2002View SourceHigh Court Decision Upholds Muluzi's Ban On Demonstrations
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
June 6, 2002
Posted to the web June 6, 2002
In an about turn a Malawian High Court on Thursday overturned a previous court ruling declaring unconstitutional a ban by President Bakili Muluzi on public protests over his third term in office.
The move is seen as a boost for Muluzi, who said on Monday he would ignore the previous court ruling as it was "irresponsible and insensitive".
Malawi's High Court on Monday ruled that Muluzi could not ban demonstrations over a controversial campaign urging him to stand for a third term in office. The court ruling came after influential religious groups, including the Roman Catholic Church and the law society of Malawi, applied for an injunction against Muluzi's threat to stop demonstrations around the third term issue.
Judge Dunstain Mwaungulu ruled that Muluzi's ban violated the constitutional rights of freedom of expression and assembly.
But that ruling was overturned following an application by Justice Minister and Attorney-General Henry Phoya who accused lawyers representing groups opposing Muluzi's controversial third-term of shopping for sympathetic judges.
Spokesman for the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, Nicholas Mkwabata, told IRIN: "The latest ruling just proves that the courts have not taken the will of the people into consideration. We will take our frustrations to the street if need be."
In November last year, ruling party members of parliament moved a motion to impeach Justice Mwaungulu and two other senior judges for being partial to the opposition.
The present stand-off between the president and the judge is further evidence of the strained relationship between the ruling party and the judiciary.
Civil rights and church groups, which oppose the amendment, are planning demonstrations in the country's cities and towns on Friday.
In contrast, the country's Muslim community has expressed support for the bill.
Muluzi, who has ruled the impoverished southern African country since 1994, has not yet announced that he wants to run again after his second five-year term ends in 2004.
Please God, not another term for Muluzi
10 June 2002 08:35
Ten thousand people attending a prayer session Sunday prayed for divine
intervention to thwart the ruling party's bid to abolish presidential term limits.
At the interdenominational prayer session, organised by church and civil
rights groups, church leaders condemned as undemocratic efforts by the
ruling United Democratic Front to change the constitution in order to allow
President Bakili Muluzi to run for a third term in 2004.
The prayer session and a protest on Saturday were held in defiance of a ban
called by Muluzi against gatherings relating to the third term bid.
"A nation without memory is a dead nation, they want to erase our memory
to bring back those dark days we abolished in 1993," said Felix Chingota,
one of the church leaders, referring to Malawian dictator Hastings Banda's
30 year rule that ended with the country's first democratic elections.
Chingota said moves to change the constitution which limits the presidency
to two five-year terms, amounted to criminal treason.
Church leaders said the weekend's demonstrations were the launch of a
grass-roots movement against efforts to change the constitution.
Muluzi, speaking to a political rally on Sunday, dismissed the prayer
session as being motivated by politics, not democracy. "My government is
for peace but some opposition leaders are using churches to fuel political
and religious tension in the country," said Muluzi.
Muluzi told western governments on Friday to stop criticising his
government's efforts to change the constitution. - Sapa-AP
Interview With WFP Regional Food Vulnerability Expert
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
June 7, 2002
Posted to the web June 7, 2002
Close to 13 million people in six countries in Southern Africa are in need of food aid from now through to March next year, the worst humanitarian crisis the region has faced since the 1992 drought.
Nicholas Haan, Regional Programme Advisor of the World Food Programme's (WFP) Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping unit, was WFP's technical coordinator in the inter-agency food assessment missions that detailed the extent of the emergency. He spoke to IRIN on the factors that have tipped the six countries - Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique - into crisis.
There is a quantitative difference between the last great Southern African drought in 1992 that affected some 18 million people and the current food situation. But the current crisis has been described as a "complex emergency". What is the qualitative difference between the two emergencies?
It is quantitatively different because the number of people who need food this year is not as great as those in 1992. But qualitatively [this year] is very different. 1992 was almost exclusively a drought-related emergency and a very long-term drought at that. This year it's complex. There are political factors - Zimbabwe stands out. The land reform programme has had a very strong effect on production levels. In Malawi, the sale of the strategic grain reserve definitely affected prices last year which affected farmers' ability to purchase food and therefore effects household food security.
So there are these qualitative dimensions, and not to even mention HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS is very different this year. There were very low values in 1992, now we are having prevalence rates in adult populations of around 25 percent, in some places even higher. So this has a direct effect on production and direct effects on accessibility.
Many households by December normally depend on purchasing their food. That number is around 80 percent of poor households who depend on purchasing their food from December through March. Without income coming into their households [because of illness due to HIV/AIDS] - that might come from remittances from South Africa, from income from working on a neighbour's farm, from working on estates - without that income, the household cannot afford maize, it cannot afford food. So HIV/AIDS has direct effects. Plus the increased demands on caregivers' time is very critical. And it's particularly women and the elderly caregivers in the household. Because now they have to spend their time not only taking care of other household members, but also the production activities that they normally do.
Perhaps related to HIV/AIDS is also the problem of deep poverty - households in Malawi even in a good year cannot even cover all their needs. What has happened?
In terms of production, poor households are not producing the food that they need for the whole year. That's why I mentioned that normal food stocks will take households up until around December and then they start purchasing. The question is whether or not they can afford it at that point. Yes, the macro-economic situation in all six of these countries [identified as facing crisis] is on a downward slide, and that has direct effects on not only the macro economy but trickle down effects on households.
We see it in Malawi very, very clearly, with the average daily labour rate called "ganyu" - it refers to casual labour, a widespread and common means of getting income. That daily wage rate has not changed in five years, it's about 20 kwacha [US 27 cents] per day. But the inflation rate in Malawi has been outstanding [May 2001 it was 30 percent]. So you have this inflation rate, to which all the other prices get adjusted accordingly - fuel transport, maize prices, they're all directly linked. But the casual labour rate hasn't budged - its a precarious situation.
In terms of the interviews you made during the recent crop assessment missions, how did people perceive their situation?
It depends on where the household gets their income. Farmers who depend on cash crops for export face very volatile global markets. Tobacco for example. This year the tobacco prices are down significantly, they are at 70 kwacha per kg - its about half of what it was last year. So that puts them in a very vulnerable position with regards to global market prices.
The household income of 50 percent of Malawians is 15-20 kwacha per day, spread out across the year. And yet maize prices last year were reaching 30 kwacha per kg. A household of five people needs at least two kg, so that's 60 kwacha and you are making around 20 kwacha. But even that's a little misleading because 15-20 kwacha per day, the average daily household income, is spread out across the whole year. When households get cash crops they sell them and spend the money. Come December, come the hungry months - December, January, March - they don't have that money available. Again, what they're depending on at that time is ganyu - casual labour. If the agricultural season is poor, if the planting season is poor, it has direct effects on the current situation because if the planting season is poor, it means the labour opportunities which people are so reliant on are not there.
What about issues of affordability of food. Presumably if poverty is so entrenched, once this current emergency is over, the whole issue of subsidies needs to be looked at. Presumably, some kind of a safety net will be needed, and for how long?
In 2000, there was no need for large scale food aid. So in a scenario where agricultural production is decent, it's not like the situation will always require assistance. We do have a situation where production is down, the issue is that national governments should have policies to accommodate, plan for, this kind of scenario. A food security policy in any country should be able to capture the needs of people in hard times. So the question is, are food crops promoted adequately in a country versus export crops? Are subsidies and distribution schemes in place that require a short amount of time to activate rather than a delayed response, which is what happened last year in Malawi. Those are elements of a food security strategy.
Malawi had a starter pack scheme [distributing small amounts of seeds and fertiliser to farmers], that has been replaced by targeted assistance. Are there any other countries in the region that have that kind of initiative?
Not as robust as Malawi
The alarm has been raised now over the regional food crisis, is the humanitarian community in time to turn it around very quickly?
You were saying that things could still go wrong this year which could increase numbers in need, could you elaborate on that?
Absolutely. All of these countries have experienced stress years last year, Malawi was more pronounced - but all of them. Zambia did, Zimbabwe has quite a continual crisis, farmers in Swaziland were also harvesting green maize, and all of these situations received a tremendous amount of attention in March/April. But that's too late at that point, because the harvest was happening in April. So the crisis that many people [humanitarian workers] came out to see, if they got there in May, had largely been alleviated by the natural process of having a harvest. The situation we're in right now is a post harvest situation. By far, the majority of people do have some harvest - there were some who were actually devastated to the point they have nothing left - but the majority do have some harvest. The question is how long will those food stocks last? Most of those food stocks will take people through to at least September/October. Therefore, currently we came out of a bad situation, we have a current alleviation of that problem, but we foresee a very severe problem coming up in the future, especially starting around September and even more so in December.
So to the question are we in time, the answer is yes. The humanitarian community already had programmes in place to assist people in the February/March/April period, we now have bridging EMOPs [Emergency Operations]. Prior to the results of the food assessments, we knew there was going to be a need, so we extended the assistance for this current period, so people are getting food in June. The question is, this is the question, the even more large scale response will have to start in September. We, WFP, do not have those resources right now because September needs will be high, and as I noted, many people's food stocks will have run out at that time. So to avert a crisis, resources need to be mobilised now. We're still in time, but any delay, or any changes to the assumptions we have made regarding winter harvesting, regarding government policies or several other factors, then the crisis will be much larger.
NGOs Need to Cement Links With Government
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
June 6, 2002
Posted to the web June 6, 2002
This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations
In the search for African solutions to African problems, the international donor community is increasingly regarding non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as essential for democracy and empowering people on the continent.
It is argued that African NGOs are in a better position to empower civil society via people's organisations. Civil society can then act as a countervailing force to the power of the African state, bureaucracy, and the local elites.
With this in mind, two Malawian academics have produced a comprehensive report that looks at the role of NGOs in the education sector in the impoverished Southern African country.
The report, titled 'The changing roles of non-governmental organisations in education in Malawi', is aimed at highlighting the role NGOs are currently playing in strengthening education and to assist donors and host governments in the design, use and management of NGO-implemented programmes.
At the outset the authors, Esme Kadzamira and Demis Kunje, both academics at the University of Malawi, point out that the involvement of NGOs in the education sector in Malawi is small and insignificant, "particularly when taking into account the vastness of the education sector".
Despite the increase of enrolment at primary level after the introduction of free primary school education in 1994, access to education still remains the biggest problem in Malawi.
The 1999 directory of NGOs listed only 56 NGOs as implementing programmes in formal education and skills training programmes.
Kunje pointed out: "There has however been a change in focus of NGO activity in education from mere construction of schools to a more direct involvement in the implementation of education programmes and also in the policy formulation process."
But as NGOs become more entrenched in Malawian civil society, the report noted that many NGOs had adopted a mulit-sectoral approach to development.
"For instance, NGOs working in orphan care and HIV/AIDS prevention have usually included education components in their programmes. Other NGOs such as Action Aid and World Vision International have included health, food security, capacity building and economic empowerment," Kunje added.
The report said that the biggest concern of NGOs had been the financing of their education activities, although funding was more of a problem for local NGOs to secure than their international counterparts.
Almost all the local NGOs surveyed for the report cited funding as a major constraint, and most relied on local fundraising to finance their activities. Consequently, their areas of operation and scope of work tended to be small and limited to one district, or a single location in one district.
Kunje said some of the major challenges facing NGOs in the education sector was the tight grip the government had on education in the country.
"Because education is so centrally controlled it makes it difficult for NGOs to operate without any restraints which lessens their impact on the ground," he said.
But NGOs have been dismayed by the lack of government commitment to the work they do.
As such the report read: "There has been an implicit assumption that government would scale up NGO activities once they have demonstrated impact, but to a large extent this has not happened either because NGOs programmes have been poorly linked up with government plans and also because of a lack coordination and consultation between the two."
It was regrettable, Kunje said, that most NGOs programmes have ended up as projects because of a lack of coordination both within the NGO community and also with government.
"There is little learning from each other, but instead innovative ideas are being tried out by NGOs all the time before consolidating the lessons they have learnt," Kunje said.
"In addition, in a centralised system of government, linkages have to be established between NGOs and various government ministries, which may be time consuming and demanding especially given that most NGOs have thin staff on the ground," the report read.
The report concluded by suggesting that NGO activity needs to be monitored and regulated in order to bring about "some coherence and endure harmonisation of efforts within the sector". The report also urged NGOs to scale up their programmes by getting government to adopt some of its initiatives.
Mugabe defies travel ban, heads for food
08 June 2002 13:48
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe is attending the World Food Summit
in Rome despite an EU travel ban, as his nation grapples with a famine
affecting about half of the population.
The state-run Herald newspaper said on Saturday that Mugabe left on Friday
for the summit, where leaders and officials from 180 nations will work to craft
a plan to half the number of the world's hungry by 2015.
The European Union, the United States and several other western nations
have imposed sanctions on Mugabe, including a travel ban, over rights
abuses and alleged fraud during his campaign for re-election in March.
But countries that host UN institutions are required to allow all leaders to
attend UN meetings, although the host country can restrict their travel to a
limited area around the airport and the actual UN building.
The four-day Rome summit will tackle major problems at the heart of Africa's
struggle with poverty, including Aids, soil salination and mass urbanisation
in the developing world.
Zimbabwe's maize harvest this year is expected to be only
510 000 tons, only 28% of average crop Zimbabwe produced in the last
decade, according to a study last month by UN agencies.
The southern African country needs about two million tons of maize to feed
its population, and the dramatic shortfall is already being felt in both cities
and remote rural areas.
The shortage came when a drought coincided with the government's
violence-wracked land reforms, and after the government delayed for months
last year when accepting reports that warned of a looming famine.
The UN World Food Programme estimates that six million people need
emergency food aid. The government put the figure at 7,8 million people --
more than half the population.
At least one in four adult Zimbabweans is suffering from HIV, and UN
officials fear a devastating death toll as people whose bodies are already
under attack by the virus begin to suffer malnutrition. - Sapa-AFP
Mugabe sanctions 'must
be stepped up'
Sanctions against Zimbabwean president
Robert Mugabe and his regime must be stepped
up, Labour MEP Glenys Kinnock has told the
As Mr Mugabe attended a United Nations
conference in Italy, despite an EU visa ban,
Mrs Kinnock called on European nations to
increase the pressure for change in his
She said: "Mugabe is using these UN meetings
to parade himself in Europe in defiance of our
ban, while the people in his country suffer
because of his policies."
Mrs Kinnock said the EU must "keep up the
pressure" and extend the impact of its
sanctions, while continuing to deliver aid to
the needy in Zimbabwe.
"We must not confuse our campaign against
Mugabe with the need to maintain
humanitarian assistance," she warned.
Accusing the Zimbabwean president of
"cocking a snook" at the EU, Mrs Kinnock said
Mr Mugabe had travelled to Europe by
exploiting the fact that delegates to UN
meetings are not subject to visa restrictions.
She said the rules could
not be changed, but
added: "We can display
our refusal to accept his
regime and what it is
doing in Zimbabwe by
restrictions beyond the
current 20 members of
his government, to include other ministers and
their family members."
She also questioned his role at the UN
"It is sheer hypocrisy for members of the
Zimbabwean political regime to be in the EU
discussing international efforts to ease poverty
and hunger when the actions and policies of
Mugabe have helped to make the threat of
widespread starvation a reality for many
people in Zimbabwe."
Responding to claims that Mrs Mugabe had
been given permission to visit Spain, Mrs
Kinnock said such trips should be banned.
She also called for Mr Mugabe and his
entourage to be deported from Italy as soon
as the conference ended.
"There must be no shopping time or tourism,"
Mrs Kinnock said.
Mozambicans turn arms to art
Stephane Barbier | Maputo
10 June 2002 07:51
Recover weapons, transform them into artwork, and then trade them for
tools. That's the innovative idea behind a Christian Council of Mozambique
program to create a "culture of peace" in a nation still recovering from 16
years of civil war.
The project is showcased in a simple villa on la Rua d'Argelia, in the heart of
Maputo, which has become the focus of both the lives and exhibitions for
many artists. Inside the house are paintings and traditional wooden statues.
Outside are triggers, barrels and butts from pistols and machine guns,
cartridges and other munitions forming sculptures of strange and disturbing
people and animals.
The same materials are also built into furniture, chairs and sofas of unique
design but uncertain comfort. Beside this surreal display, artists gather bits
of weapons recovered through the "Turn Guns Into Hoes" program, created
five years ago by the Christian Council, which represents 20 churches, with
the exception of Roman Catholics.
People bring in weapons, which are then broken into pieces, in exchange for
bicycles, farm tools and building supplies. The artists then receive some of
the destroyed weapons.
"As of today, we have recovered 200 000 arms," said Dinis Sengulane,
Mozambique's Anglican bishop. That's a drop in the ocean. After 16 years of
civil war, the United Nations estimated that Mozambique had 67-million
weapons in circulation around the country.
But the bishop says numbers don't matter as much as that "we have been
able to show that it is possible to change an industry of weapons into an
industry of peace" and to make "weapons of war into objects that inspire
The program will remain in place "for 10 years, 20 years, 30 years if that's
what it takes," he said. Both the sides in the war, the ruling Frelimo and the
former Renamo rebels, have given a "very positive" response to the project,
"Former combatants from both sides are participating," he said. Police and
soldiers also help collect and destroy the weapons, but they do so in civilian
clothes to avoid frightening people who might be scared to hand over their
For those who are afraid, they can remain anonymous and simply inform
regional authorities of where they left the weapons for collection. While
proud of his success, Sengulane still regrets that the program receives no
financing from the government or the international community -- support that
could boost weapons collection, now concentrated in the south, throughout
In addition to the churches' effort, Mozambique's army and police,
sometimes along with their South African counterparts, regularly recover and
Ten years after the war, no one is sure exactly how many weapons have
been destroyed. What is known is that those weapons are now part of a
significant illegal gun trade throughout southern Africa, a business that
sometimes takes place with the complicity of corrupt police and military
officials, one western diplomat said on condition of anonymity. - 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 byMessage 1046 of 1046 , May 22, 2006View Source
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