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  • Christine Chumbler
    Europe softens on Malawi aid Germany and Italy have announced that they are writing off close to $500,000-worth of Malawi s debts. Malawi is currently
    Message 1 of 1046 , Jul 2, 2002
      Europe softens on
      Malawi aid

      Germany and Italy have announced that they
      are writing off close to $500,000-worth of
      Malawi's debts.

      Malawi is currently suffering from a devastating
      famine, with up to three million people needing
      food aid.

      The debt write-off is
      some rare good news
      for the government of
      President Bakili Muluzi,
      which has a troubled
      relationship with
      donors.

      Other western
      countries suspended
      development aid
      imposed last year,
      after reports that
      previous aid had not
      been used properly.

      On Tuesday, the United Nations food agency
      launched a $500m appeal so it can buy food to
      avert the growing threat of famine across
      southern Africa.

      The head of the World Food Programme, James
      Morris, says the agency needs to purchase
      one million tonnes of food to help over 12
      million people to survive until the next harvest.

      Despite their announcement, Germany and
      Italy warned that continued aid to Malawi
      depended on good governance.

      The IMF is withholding $47m of the $55m
      earmarked for Malawi due to concerns about
      possible corruption and poor management.

      Hundreds of people died from starvation earlier
      this year and aid agencies warn that food aid
      is needed quickly to avert a disaster.

      Third term

      The food crisis was exacerbated by the
      government's decision to sell off most of its
      grain reserves last year.

      Malawi, however, says that it was acting on
      advice from the IMF - an accusation the
      organisation denies.

      Supporters of
      President Muluzi are
      currently pushing for a
      change in the
      constitution, to allow
      him to run for a third
      term in office.

      His second mandate is
      due to expire in 2004.

      "Germany joins the
      United States, Britain
      and the European
      Union in urging Malawi
      to allow a full and wide-ranging public debate,
      conducted in an atmosphere free from
      intimidation or retribution, before any
      far-reaching constitutional decisions are
      taken," said Franz Ring, Germany's ambassador
      to Malawi.

      This is seen as a warning to Mr Muluzi, who
      recently banned demonstrations related to the
      third term issue.

      *****

      WFP Launches Massive Appeal

      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

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


      The World Food Programme (WFP) on Monday launched an appeal for over US
      $500 million to provide emergency relief food to six countries in
      Southern Africa for millions of people threatened with starvation over
      the next nine months.

      The agency needs US $507 million to fund close to one million mt of
      food, enough to feed 10.2 million people until the next main harvest in
      March 2003.

      Already, from June to September, seven million people need food aid,
      rising to just over 11 million from September to November, and peaking
      at 12.8 million from December until March 2003.

      The WFP hopes to supply 67 percent of the food required with NGOs
      supplying the balance.

      "This is WFP's largest emergency operation but it needs donations to
      succeed and those donations are needed now," said James T Morris,
      Executive Director of WFP.

      "Southern Africa is already facing an extremely severe crisis, which
      will only worsen in the coming months. However, it is still possible for
      the international community to avert a catastrophe by responding rapidly
      to this appeal."

      The crisis, which affects Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Lesotho
      and Swaziland is the worst that southern Africa has experienced for a
      decade. The situation in Namibia is still being assessed.

      Unlike the drought of 1991-92, a variety of factors, ranging from poor
      rains and floods to regional economic decline and governmental
      mismanagement, have contributed to the current shortages, the statement
      said.

      WFP's appeal will be targeted primarily at the most vulnerable
      households, such as families affected by HIV/AIDS and those headed by
      women, children and the elderly.

      The statement said the ability of the region's commercial sector to
      import large quantities of additional food was of paramount importance
      and that governments must cooperate with the private sector if there was
      to be enough food to stave off a crisis.

      "The magnitude of the crisis demands that everyone rallies together to
      save people's lives," said Morris. "No single organisation can hope to
      deal with this crisis on its own."

      Over the next few months, teams of experts would closely monitor the
      region's food security and the threat of another El Nino phenomenon was
      under continuous watch.

      While each country had different problems, the severity of the overall
      situation had been exacerbated by high levels of chronic malnutrition
      and the fact that the region had the highest prevalence rates of
      HIV/AIDS infection in the world.

      "Coupled with rising levels of poverty and a succession of poor
      harvests, Southern Africa finds itself facing a potential calamity," the
      statement said.

      It was vital to get enough supplies before October when the region's
      rainy season starts, when many rural areas will be rendered
      inaccessible.

      WFP has set up a logistical and information management centre in South
      Africa to coordinate the movement of food aid.

      Once the food aid arrives, WFP will rely heavily on its implementing
      partners, including World Vision, Care, Catholic Relief Services, Save
      the Children and many others to distribute it.

      "Fortunately, the international community has already begun to respond
      to the crisis," said Morris. "However, a lot more needs to be done if
      the region is not going to have a disaster on its hands. We still have
      the chance to avert a major humanitarian calamity. But we must act
      now."


      *****

      US court says Mugabe must pay $73m to
      victims
      Harare
      02 July
      2002 13:23

      A US federal magistrate in New York has recommended
      that Zimbabwe
      President Robert Mugabe's ruling party pay
      $73-million in compensation for
      several cases of political killings and torture, one
      of the victims said on
      Tuesday.

      US Magistrate James Francis said in the 32-page
      finding that Mugabe's
      Zanu-PF should pay $20-million in compensatory
      damages and $53-million
      in punitive damages, one of the beneficiaries,
      Elliot Pfebve told AFP in
      Harare.

      Relatives of three Zimbabweans who were killed and a
      political opponent
      who claims she was beaten before Zimbabwe's
      parliamentary elections in
      2000 sued Mugabe in a US District Court under the
      212-year-old Alien Tort
      Claims Act.

      The law allows nationals of other countries to file
      civil suits in US courts for
      injuries suffered in violation of international law,
      although it is rare to collect
      judgments in such cases.

      "It's not so much so for the money, but morally that
      ruling gives hope for
      Zimbabwe, that after all the international community
      is aware of what is
      happening in Zimbabwe," Pfebve said.

      ?After all, if the laws of Zimbabwe cannot protect
      its citizens, there are laws,
      like the law in the US, that people can use to
      realise justice," he said.

      US federal judge Victor Marrero must review the
      recommendation, which he
      can accept or alter. He can also set out how
      Mugabe's Zimbabwe African
      National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) would pay
      the damages.

      Property or other assets held by Mugabe and other
      party officials in the
      United States could be seized. The plaintiffs could
      also turn to courts in
      other countries to ask that they also seize assets
      to comply with the ruling.

      No Zimbabwean official contested the suit, and the
      government in Harare at
      one point denied the case's existence. Several
      Zimbabwean journalists have
      been charged with criminal defamation for reporting
      on the lawsuit. -
      Sapa-AFP

      *****

      Mugabe forces students into militia service
      Harare
      02 July
      2002 11:05

      Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe plans to make
      service in his youth
      militia a prerequisite for high school graduates
      entering college or the job
      market, reports said on Tuesday.

      The youth militias, aligned with Mugabe's ruling
      party, were involved in brutal
      attacks on the opposition during presidential
      elections in March, human
      rights groups said.

      The move is viewed by observers in Zimbabwe as part
      of Mugabe's efforts to
      encourage its minority white and Indian populations
      to leave the country.

      Mugabe's critics say he has been exacerbating racial
      tensions in the
      country in order to deflect attention from the
      nation's crumbling economy.

      "It is envisaged that youths with the prerequisite
      qualifications ... will not be
      admitted into institutes of higher learning unless
      they undergo national
      service," Higher Education Minister Samuel
      Mumbengegwi told the state-run
      Herald newspaper.

      Teacher colleges last week reported receiving
      directives to accept students
      who had been in the youth militia over students who
      had not served, even if
      those applicants were more qualified.

      Mumbengegwi also said that those students who had
      recently completed
      degrees would need to show official certificates to
      prove they completed

      national service before being employed.

      "(The decision) was meant not only to instill a
      spirit of nationalism and
      national consciousness, but also (to) arrest the
      current brain drain,"
      Mumbengegwi told the newspaper, "We cannot continue
      to be a training
      ground for people who are not committed to the
      development of the nation."

      With the economy on the brink of collapse and a food
      crisis looming, many
      Zimbabweans have left the country. Head of the
      opposition Movement for
      Democratic Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, has demanded
      the disbanding of
      the youth militia, now several thousand strong, as a
      condition for resumption
      of reconciliation talks with Mugabe's party.

      President of the Zimbabwe Teachers' Union, Leonard
      Nkala, denounced the
      move and demanded clarification on how and to whom
      it would be applied. -
      Sapa-AP
    • Christine Chumbler
      ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17 The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22 8:06 AM

        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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