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  • Christine Chumbler
    Focus On Impact of Poverty, HIV/Aids On Schooling UN Integrated Regional Information Networks August 28, 2002 Posted to the web August 28, 2002 This report
    Message 1 of 1046 , Aug 29 9:13 AM
      Focus On Impact of Poverty, HIV/Aids On Schooling

      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
      August 28, 2002
      Posted to the web August 28, 2002

      This report does not necessarily reflect
      the views of the United Nations

      Poverty, hunger, and AIDS are threatening Malawi's free primary
      programme, one of the key reforms introduced by the government which
      came to power eight years ago.

      Joseph Matola, the director of basic education in the Ministry of
      said that of 1.2 million pupils who enrolled in primary schools in
      900,000 had by this year dropped out. Although the government had
      scrapped primary school fees to encourage schooling, there were still
      hidden costs, such as exercise books and textbooks. For poor families,
      those costs, and the loss of potential earnings from child labour,
      undermined the government's education drive.

      At Ndirande Local Education Authority (LEA) in Blantyre, the country's
      commercial centre, 1,589 pupils registered for standard one in 1994.
      349 made it to standard eight, a headmaster, Francis Manjanja, told

      Malawi's schools are in crisis. The infrastructure was not in place to
      with the demand for free education when it was first introduced.
      the high dropout rate, classes are overcrowded, teachers de-motivated,
      and equipment in short supply. Ndirande township, for example, has a
      population of 80,000 school-age pupils, but only seven primary

      Manjanja said his school had 20 classrooms for 126 classes. "This is
      over 100 classes are held outside. Since most of the pupils learn
      they do not learn comfortably. They are exposed to harsh weather
      conditions such as dust, sun, cold and heat. During the rainy season,
      teaching is greatly disturbed and, as such, absenteeism is high and so
      pupil dropout," he said.

      "This has been worsened by the current food crisis in the country. Most
      our pupils don't have good clothes and shelter either. Some of their
      guardians exacerbate their problems by forcing them to find piecework
      supplement family incomes," Manjanja added.

      About 3.2 million Malawians, or 28 percent of the population, are in
      need of
      aid following two consecutive poor cereal harvests, which have sharply
      reduced food availability, and driven prices beyond the reach of

      The drought-induced food crisis has also been exacerbated by
      poverty. In 2000, 48 percent of children aged under five suffered from
      stunting due to chronic malnutrition. HIV/AIDS, which affects 16
      percent of
      adult Malawians, has deepened existing poverty, reducing the ability
      parents to care for their children, and ultimately leaving them

      Mary, 14, and her two younger sisters are AIDS orphans. They lost
      father in 1992 and their mother three years later. They now live with
      grandmother, who is too old to work, in a squatter home coated in
      soot from their cooking fire, in the middle of Ndirande township.

      "Sometimes we don't have food. Sometimes we don't have money to buy
      water, which costs 1.40 kwacha [one US cent]. Sometimes we go through
      the whole day without food and find it the following day," Mary told
      IRIN, as
      she sat next to a dying fire made from palm fronds rather than

      Mary attends standard five at Ndirande LEA primary school. Her
      12-year-old sister, Mwaiwawo, is in standard two. But the chances of
      these two girls completing their primary education were remote,
      acknowledged Manjanja.

      When Manjanja first visited Mary's home, "we found them sleeping
      on the floor, a dusty floor, covering themselves with a fertiliser

      The development benefits of education, especially for girl children,
      are well
      documented. Educated mothers not only raise healthier children, but
      play an important role in curbing the spread of HIV. However, the
      impact of
      Malawi's poverty has threatened that goal.

      "It is in this way that some girl pupils start working as commercial
      workers. Other orphans are stopped from attending school in order to
      commodities at the market to earn some income. Last year we had a
      standard six girl of 13 who was pregnant. This year we have a standard
      four girl of 13 who is pregnant," Manjanja told IRIN.

      Manjanja said his primary school had 2,601 orphans, mainly as a result
      AIDS, many of whom faced similarly dire conditions. There are about
      468,000 AIDS orphans in Malawi.

      Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF),
      visited Malawi earlier this month. She noted that the food crisis had
      "many problems", but pointed out that what was needed was "real
      commitment to get children back to school".

      In a limited response, UNICEF has launched a school feeding programme
      covering 85 community schools in Malawi's 10 districts, targeting
      vulnerable children.

      Catherine Chirwa, the UNICEF project officer for education, said the
      school feeding programme was meant to retain pupils in class and help
      support vulnerable households. "Research has shown that when
      somebody continues learning and completes standard four, they'll
      permanent literacy ... It is difficult for girls to continue going to
      school if
      there is hunger," she added.


      Vice President Says Food Shortage Can Be Averted

      Insider Publications
      August 29, 2002
      Posted to the web August 29, 2002

      By Mana Reporter

      Malawi's Vice president Justin Malewezi has assured people in the
      that government would ensure that the country has not less than 40,
      metric tonnes of maize monthly to avert food shortage the country is

      Addressing a rally at Etchiyeni in the area of inkosi Mzukuzuku in
      Malewezi said the country is importing 40,000 metric tonnes of grain,
      similar amount would be readily available at Beira port, in

      "The distribution of the maize would be in different forms. Those who
      the money will pay for it, others will work in their area and use the
      they earn to buy maize while others will do food for work programmes"
      was quoted by the official Malawi News Agency as saying.

      However the vice president said the households should be able to
      their own food because the country should not always rely on imported

      "Villages should have grain banks in their areas whereby villagers
      contribute to it after harvest and use (the maize) when needed," MANA
      quoted Malewezi.

      Speaking at the same rally, Inkosi ya Makosi Mbelwa IV and regional
      governor for the north, Wyson Mkochi urged government to distribute
      starter packs early to allow people to plan with the first rains.

      Since Etchiyeni is along the border with Zambia, Inkosi Mbelwa and the
      regional governor noted that the area was used as a pssage by thieves
      who flock to the neighbouring country and asked government to equip
      police with reliable vehicles.


      Zambia reins in spending

      Zambia has angered unions by suspending food
      and travel expenses paid to some government
      When Manjanja first vis
      The spending cuts are in response to criticism
      from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

      IMF officials raised concerns about a gap in
      the country's budget during a recent visit to
      the country.

      The payments to low and middle-ranking civil
      servants will stop for a period of three months
      from the beginning of September.

      But unions have voiced their strong opposition
      to the move.

      'Lavish spending'

      Last month Zambian President Levy
      Mwanawasa expressed concern over "lavish

      He said the governments unspecified travel
      budget has been overspent by 200 million
      kwacha ($44,450) in February 2002 to July

      But the Primary School Teachers Association of
      Zambia suggested cuts should be made to
      benefits paid to senior civil servants and
      politicians instead, some of whom receive $240
      a day whilst travelling abroad.

      The union said it will call on its 38,000
      members to strike if the payment suspension
      goes ahead.

      The Civil Servants Union of Zambia has also
      protested against the decision.

      Economic problems

      President Levy Mwanawasa launched a
      clampdown on corruption and pledged to push
      ahead with plans to liberalise the country's
      economy when he came to power in December.

      Inflation was running at 18.6% in 2001. The
      government has set inflation targets of 13% in
      2002, falling to 8% in 2003, and then 5% in

      The IMF approved $317m (£216.4m) financing
      for Zambia's 2002 economic plan to target
      poverty reduction in May 2002.

      But the country is facing a serious food
      shortage and its economic prospects were
      dealt a blow when Anglo American pulled out of
      mining operations in the country in August.


      Mugabe rules out any talks with white
      Jan Raath | Harare

      28 August
      2002 13:39

      President Robert Mugabe has ruled out any
      possibility of talks with the
      country's white farmers, and told them their rights
      to own property were
      second to blacks, state radio reported today.

      On Wednesday a Harare High Court judge ruled that
      eviction orders issued
      by the Zimbabwe government to 54 farmers were
      illegal and that the owners
      could return to their properties.

      Jenni Williams, representative for Justice for
      Agriculture, a lobby group for
      farmers fighting the Zimbabwe government in court,
      said that "justice has
      been served" by Judge Benjamin Paradza's decision.

      "These properties have been removed from the
      acquisition list, and should
      return to full production, making food and earning
      foreign currency for
      Zimbabwe," she said.

      However, Mugabe gave no room for hope for the
      country's dwindling number
      of white farmers when he spoke yesterday in the
      southeastern town of

      "There is no room for talks, there is no room for
      negotiations because the
      real owners of this land are asserting their rights
      and reclaiming their land,"
      he told a crowd that included a sprinkling of

      "If you want to live with us, to farm alongside us,
      we, the rightful owners of
      our ancestral land, will carve out some land for
      you. But you cannot decide
      what you will have in our country," he said.

      His remarks came days before the deadline set by him
      for the conclusion of
      his so-called "revolutionary land reform programme"
      and the distribution of
      thousands of white-owned farms among allegedly
      "landless" Zimbabweans.

      The Commercial Farmers' Union, which represents the
      estimated 3 000
      white farmers still left in Zimbabwe, has been
      pleading for discussions with
      the government to establish farmers' rights in the
      midst of the government's
      seizure of white land.

      Mugabe rebuffed an appeal from them two weeks ago
      for direct talks with

      Lawyer Jeremy Callow who represented the 54 white
      farmers told the court
      on Wednesday morning said that an anonymous
      telephone caller in the
      early hours of Monday and told him if he was seen
      again in the northern
      district of Karoi, where most of his farmer clients
      are, he "would be killed."

      "I was very horrified to receive such a threat," he
      told reporters outside the

      "There seem to be accumulating instances of unlawful
      conduct against
      officers of the court. One would hope this will all
      come to an end

      About 200 white farmers have been arrested by police
      since August 9 when
      the deadline expired of eviction orders to 2 900
      farmers to abandon their
      farms, while simultaneously scores of other farmers
      have been illegally
      driven off by senior ruling party officials claiming
      prime farming operations
      worth millions of US dollars for themselves.

      Callow said the eviction orders were cancelled for a
      variety of reasons; in
      most cases the government had failed to carry out
      the legal procedures for
      evictions, while in others the description of the
      farms on the eviction orders
      "were so inadequate that the properties described do
      not exist."

      If the government was determined to force the
      farmers off their land, they
      would have to restart the 90-day eviction process,
      he said.

      "They have no choice if they wish to lawfully
      acquire the farms in issue.
      They must follow their own legislation as passed by
      our parliament."

      Mugabe claims that the government has resettled 300
      000 peasant farmers
      on seized white land, and that by the end of this
      month, another 54 000
      "indigenous (black) emergent commercial farmers"
      will have been resettled
      as well, officially marking the end of the land
      reform programme.

      However, aid agencies and farm union officials say
      that chaos reigns on
      most of the country's once hugely productive
      commercial farms.

      Farm labour unions point out that the occupation of
      the white-owned farms
      means that 350 000 farm workers will be made
      homeless, driven from their
      homes and jobs.

      Many of the farms have been abandoned by the
      original peasant squatters
      who began moving on in February 2000 at the start of
      the notorious farm
      invasions led by so-called guerrilla war veterans.

      Those still there are doing subsistence "slash and
      burn" agriculture, without
      any of the inputs of seed, fertiliser and tools
      promised by Mugabe. Many are
      faced with starvation, according to interviews with
      squatters published in the
      independent media.

      Earlier this month, acting lands minister Ignatius
      Chombo admitted that of
      the 54 000 "emergent commercial farmers" allocated
      land, only half had
      taken up the offer.

      Farm union officials say the figure is much lower.
      Heading the list of ruling
      party elite illegally laying claim to white land is
      Mugabe's 38-year-old wife,
      Grace, who last week took over a 27-room property,
      allegedly in the name of
      a "children's rehabilitation trust" of which she is
      the patron. - Sapa


      Radio bombing the fourth attack on Zim
      Own correspondent, Sapa, AFP | Harare

      29 August
      2002 17:10

      The bomb attack on an independent radio station in
      Zimbabwe was the
      fourth on a media organisation in the past three
      years, the Media Institute of
      Southern Africa (Misa) said on Thursday.

      "The attacks on media establishments are without
      doubt meant to silence
      the media and ultimately the whole society," the
      media freedom
      organisation said in a statement.

      An independent radio organisation in a Harare
      suburb, Voice Of People
      Communications Trust, was bombed in the early hours
      of Thursday morning.

      "Although the police have begun investigations which
      we believe might lead
      to the arrest of the culprits, past examples of
      investigations of attacks on
      media establishments are not encouraging at all."

      The bomb destroyed all the equipment and virtually
      incapacitated the
      operations of the aspiring radio station.

      A group called the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe
      (MMPZ) issued a
      statement condemning the bombing, calling the act "a
      cowardly and
      desperate attempt to silence independent and
      alternative sources of
      information to the Zimbabwean public".

      The MMPZ said the bombing was a blow to Zimbabweans'
      guaranteed right to freedom of expression and that
      it further eroded the
      nation's democratic aspirations.

      "An attack on any media institution is an attack on
      us all," said the MMPZ.

      In 2000, an art gallery above the Daily News offices
      in Harare was bombed,
      the newspaper's printing press was bombed in Harare
      in 2001 and its
      Bulawayo office was petrol-bombed earlier this

      "This excludes incidences of physical attacks,
      arrests and intimidation,"
      said Misa.

      "Misa-Zimbabwe takes note that these heinous crimes
      are being committed
      against a background of an already bad media

      The body urged the police and government to work
      together to discourage
      such crimes.

      "We pray that at least this time, the culprits of
      this crime will be

      No-one was hurt in Thursday's blast but the 10-room,
      single-storey house
      was gutted, with its roof collapsed, rooms blackened
      and windows blown

      "Everything is gone, computers, office equipment the
      equipment," said Sarah Chivumbu, treasurer of Voice
      of the People
      Communications Trust.

      "There is nothing left."

      She would not speculate on the motive for the attack
      or the identity of

      A private security guard at the building said three
      men had held him up with
      a firearm. They told him not to struggle because,
      "you don't want to die for a
      cause you know nothing about".

      Two of them smashed the windows and then threw bombs
      inside, he said.

      Police were on guard at the house in Van Praagh
      Avenue and refused to
      allow journalists near the site until forensic and
      ballistics officers had carried
      out investigations.

      Agence France Presse reported that VOP used
      Zimbabwean journalists who
      produced programmes in local languages and then sent
      computer sound
      files abroad, from where they were broadcast on
      shortwave back to the

      That system was devised to help VOP avoid falling
      under oppressive media
      legislation enacted by President Robert Mugabe in
      mid-March, just two
      days after he was re-elected in a vote that was
      widely condemned as mired
      in fraud and violence.

      Under the media law, journalists are barred from
      reporting on meetings of
      the cabinet or other government bodies. The law also
      obliges journalists to
      seek accreditation from a government panel and
      places severe restrictions
      on foreign reporters working in the southern African

      Those who violate the law face stiff fines and up to
      two years in prison.
      VOP's output focuses on health, politics, Zimbabwe's
      economy, and education.

      "Our main strength is that we broadcast in local
      languages to reach rural
      people who may not have access to other
      information," said VOP
      chairperson Faith Ndebele.

      According to a statement by Misa-Zimbabwe, the
      bombing of VOP comes
      against a background of an acrimonious relationship
      between the authorities
      and the station. The government accuses VOP of
      "tarnishing the image" of
      the country through its reporting.

      On 4 July 2002 the police raided the radio station.
      The police accompanied
      by officers from the Broadcasting Authority of
      Zimbabwe (BAZ) and armed
      with a search warrant, raided the VOP in search of a
      transmitter and
      anything used in broadcasting.

      The Misa statement noted that after failing to find
      the transmitter the police
      confiscated 133 tapes and files from the office. The
      tapes and files that the
      police had taken had since been returned. - Sapa,


      Zimbabwe militants hound priest into hiding
      29 August
      2002 09:48

      An Irish Catholic priest is in hiding in Zimbabwe
      after being forced to flee for
      his life when members of President Robert Mugabe's
      lawless militia of
      so-called war veterans drove him out of his parish
      in eastern Zimbabwe.

      Reverend Patrick Kelly (60) born in the village of
      West Tubber Curry in
      county Sligo, Ireland, Wednesday accused his
      Zimbabwean bishops of
      being cowed by Mugabe's regime and of failing to
      defend him when he was
      ordered to abandon his church in the mountain
      village of Nyanga on
      Zimbabwe's eastern border with Mozambique last

      Before the group of seven war veterans arrived at
      his home in the village on
      August 17, he was interrogated three times, for two
      hours on each
      occasion, by agents of Mugabe's secret police.

      They and the war veterans accused him of supporting
      the opposition
      Movement for Democratic Change. "When the war vets
      came, I had to
      leave," he said in a telephone interview on

      "They shouted at me, accused me of being a member of
      the opposition.
      They gave me until August 22 to leave, or else I
      would face unspecified
      action," he said.

      He immediately reported the threat to police, who
      said they were not able to
      help. "Police could provide no protection, so I had
      no choice but to leave. I
      feared for my life.

      "We know this kind of thing has been happening with
      white commercial
      farmers, teachers and civil servants. But this is
      probably the first time a
      priest has been told he cannot work in his area."

      The senior hierarchy of the Catholic Church is
      widely criticised for its
      apparent closeness with the regime and Mugabe, who
      is a Catholic and was
      granted a special dispensation to marry his divorced
      wife, Grace, in 1996.

      However, outspoken individual priests and bishops of
      the church are
      regularly targeted by ruling party militias.

      Archbishop Pius Ncube has been publicly denounced by
      Mugabe for his
      condemnation of ruling party violence and he has
      received death threats.

      Father Kelly came to Zimbabwe in 1998 after spending
      the previous 27
      years as a missionary in southern Kenya for St
      Patrick's Missionary
      Society, based in county Wicklow in Ireland.

      On August 17 the war veterans ordered him to leave.
      The next day he
      appealed for help to Bishop Alexio Muchabaiwa, the
      senior bishop in the
      eastern province of Manicaland and his auxiliary,
      Bishop Patrick Mutume.

      Mutume came to preach in Kelly's church in Nyanga,
      but only referred
      vaguely to the priest's harassment.

      "This is a time when the church should have
      confronted the situation ... I am
      very disappointed. I would rather he had not come at
      all." - Sapa-DPA


      A UN Summit special report on Mozambican fisheries:
    • Christine Chumbler
      ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17 The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22, 2006

        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.


        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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