- Malawi Impose Heavy Fines for Pollution
Malawi Insider (Blantyre)
September 5, 2002
Posted to the web September 5, 2002
Malawi government through city, town and district assembly has
threatened to punish all companies that are polluting rivers and other
natural resorces through careless disposal of wasres. The government
has already taken a number of companies to task.
Chirimba Garments, an export processing zone (EPZ) company might
face a penalty of up to one million Kwacha for dumping poisonous
chemicals in Chirimba River, Blantyre City Assembly has disclosed.
Blantyre City Assembly head of health department, Dr. Lycester
said in an interview with The Malawi Standard that a team of people
comprised of pollution control engineers, environmental health
among others visited Chirimba industrial area last Tuesday on a fact
finding mission on how industries dispose their waste.
"We discovered that Chirimba Garments dumps dangerous chemicals,
which we believe might have poisonous acids that can be hazardous to
both human beings and the environment," he said.
He explained that although the Assembly has not yet tasted the
chemicals that are released by the company into a small stream that
directly flows into Chirimba river, the environmental experts believe
chemical might contain acids that can cause skin reaction or burns and
imbues the soil.
"There might be even more to that than what we see, so if we taste the
chemicals and find that they are indeed dangerous then the company
could be slapped with a penalty of up to K1 million," said Bandawe.
Chirimba Garments Area Manager Joe Lee speaking through his Secretary
a Ms Citas said he could not talk to the Malawi Standard because he is
"The boss says he can not talk to you. He doesn't even find time to
people, he is ever busy," said Citas.
The City Assembly also discovered that some manufacturing industries,
which I can not disclose now dump industrial waste at night both
and out side the City of Blantyre.
Currently the Assembly is working with the District Health Officers
to track down those companies that dump waste outside Blantyre.
"We are working with the DHOs because our mandate is within the
Blantyre City," he said.
Capital Oil Refining Industries (CORI)
Last year the Assembly slapped Capital Oil Refining Industries (CORI)
a K40 000 fine for dumping fats in Chirimba river.
According to Bandawe the fats blocked the stream that carries
waste and it made the whole area to stink.
"The fats were deposited where the stream crosses the road to join
Chirimba River, the whole area was stinking badly," he said.
The Assembly advised CORI to neutralize the fats in a process called
hydrolysis so that they only dispose pure water.
"We are happy that CORI treats the fats and discharges treated water
which is not harmful to people," he said.
CORI's Managing Director a Mr. Karim confirmed having paid a fine of
K40000. He however denied that his company used to dump fats in
"The City Assembly discovered later that it was the broken sewer line
blocked the stream and not fats as it was previously alleged," said
Harry Khoriyo, a refinery manager disclosed that CORI has been writing
the City Assembly to rehabilitate the sewer line but nothing has been
CORI and Chirimba residents' relationship "Some residents who had
gardens before Chirimba was declared an industrial area in the late
have a negative attitude towards CORI because it was the first industry
settle in the area. It is very sad that people rush to blame CORI on
concerning water pollution yet what we discharge into the stream is
pure treated coloured water and its non-acidic," explained Khoriyo.
Vandalism Brickmoulders started digging the land around the industrial
area and they came across sewer lines in the process.
The brick moulders took the sewer line for a water board line and they
started digging the pipes with the aim of tapping water for their job,
they know it was a sewerline.
Some people stole steel manholes and after the rainy season the
manholes were filled up with bricks, sand and stones weakening the
The T-joint where the whole industrial sewer system meet burst and the
sewer started flowing into Chirimba river untreated and polluting the
The sewer system is not mechanical, it flows by gravitation and it
the gradient up to Michiru treatment plant.
Solution A feasibility study conducted by the City assembly indicates
the only solution to the problem is to overhaul the whole sewer
Putting a new sewer system for the industrial area alone would cost
City Assembly about K50 million.
Residents concern Village head Mwachande expressed concern over
water pollution by the industries in her area and urged the City
do something about it.
She said water borne diseases are becoming common in the area
because of the water pollution.
"People use water from Chirimba river for domestic purposes since we
don't have boreholes in my area. Masaf has promised to sink boreholes
its third phase," she said.
Residents sunk wells along the heavily polluted river.
However health statistics are not indicating any cholera or waterborne
record in the area for the past two years as claimed by the Village
"It is wonderful that Chirimba area has not registered any cholera out
for the past two years," said Dr. Bandawe.
Some environmental experts suspect that some industries discharge
diluted caustic soda in the Chirimba river.
Caustic soda can kill both human beings and livestock if released
Adam Saidi who works at a Mr. Mponda's dairy farm in the area said
they cut elephant grass in and along the river to feed their dairy
despite the pollution.
"You could see blue/black chemicals in the river and even sewage but
since we have no where to get elephant grass we have no choice."
The Earth Summit in South Africa agreed to provide portable water to
citizens from poor countries by the year 2015.-0- Insider Publications
NDA Plots to Raze UDF National Office
Malawi Insider (Blantyre)
September 5, 2002
Posted to the web September 5, 2002
In what can be described as mother of all revenges and the height of
political tension that this country has never experienced, the
Democratic Alliance is planning to raze down and set ablaze the
Offices for the ruling United Democratic Front situated in Limbe. The
Malawi Standard has uncovered a plot after interviewing ten of the
pressure group's Young Democrats who are part of this plot and also
part in the recent political violence in Mulanje which led the death
The leader of the NDA Young Democrats assigned this assignment is
Arubi Changa (code name adopted for media ethics and security
pnd Chirimba residents' relationship "S
Arubi and his colleagues say that the NDA is actively working on this
which they would want to destroy data and documents in the office of
UDF's Secretary General Hon. Katenga Kaunda and further destroy
computers in the newsroom which are used for the publication of the
"We have been instructed by our bosses that this is the mother of all
revenges that we are going to take against UDF," said the Young
He explained that there are some major incidents that the NDA would
to retaliate against.
"We in NDA still remember vividly how our leaders were greatly
embarrassed when we were teargassed in Ndirande Township when the
NDA was just a few weeks old. We also remember how a Mercedez Benz
was burnt to ashes and our leaders harassed at Parliament Building in
Lilongwe. And just recently our leader Brown Mpinganjira was also
harassed at a roadblock in Lilongwe," explained Arubi adding that the
destruction of an NDA office in Mulanje has also been one of their
He said, the NDA security wing the Lebanese would revenge all these in
one mission, which is attacking and burning the UDF National Offices
a few other key targets and officials.
"In the attack, we will use our usual weapons which include axes,
machetes, pangas, knives and clubs. Apart from these weapons, our job
will be made easier by simply using petrol to set ablaze important
the building," he said.
In the highly confidential interview, Arubi in the company of nine of
colleagues said that the 30 strong selected attackers will break into
building from the back, and their first target will be the office of
Secretary General. The group would go there in the evening using a
coming in from Kanjedza on pick-ups that will have number plates
removed. One of the pick-ups belongs to one NDA official formerly an
employee of Telekom Networks. After that mission, they would drive
He revealed that the NDA Young Democrats are planning to invade the
UDF National Headquarters at the time when President Bakili Muluzi will
in the central region.
"We know that when the President is in the Central Region, many police
officers, police vehicles and our archrivals, UDF Young Democrats are
where the President is. So we expect that after the attack, we will
successfully escape without being caught by the law enforcers," he
He disclosed that soon after the attack the NDA media propaganda
machinery would go flat out spreading news that UDF Young Democrats
have set ablaze their party headquarters after being unpaid for the
they have done in the past.
"We have been assured that two radio stations, newspapers and foreign
media will quickly tell the world that disgruntled UDF Young Democrats
have set their own office ablaze due to wage squabbles," Arubi said.
He said that they have been assured by senior NDA officials that after
successful completion of their mission each one of them would receive
K5,000 and they would be offered safe custody by the officials of the
The plot to attack and torch down part of UDF national headquarters,
according to Arubi, was discussed at two meetings one at the NDA
chairman's house in Mapanga and another at Mpinganjira's house in
Chigumula. During those two meetings the NDA executive agreed to
revenge Mpinganjira's humiliation by razing down UDF office and
to kill five other UDF loyalists Nembo, two Mvulas, Kapito and Moyo.
killing of the officials was to be done by a group led by a certain
Lilongwe in the company of a Mwalamboza and Juma who are going to
pose as car hijackers.
These sinister plans are being coordinated by Mezalumo and a Mr
Fungula. The ones masterminding the detailed movements of the
attackers are Brown Mpinganjira's senior bodyguard, a Mr Chelewani who
once worked for the Malawi Army and also played for Red Lions Football
Club and a Mr Mwachande, who once worked for Malawi. Mr Mwachande
now stays in Chilobwe but has been seen at Mpinganjira's rallies with
Meanwhile there are also reports that the NDA has also hired another
Special Hit Squad which is led by a Mr. Makata formerly of the UDF
The NDA is reported to have organised this group after discovering
some of the members of their usual hit squad, the Lebanese, are failing
execute major assignments.
While ten members of the NDA Young Democrats interviewed insist that
the whole aim behind attacking the UDF offices and killing officials
to avenge for what they call "past defeats of NDA security men, the
Lebanese at the hands of UDF Young Democrats, a senior official who
confided in The Malawi Standard said the whole aim of the plot is aimed
embarrassing the UDF and its leadership. He said that they have
to do so on several occasions and the most successful one involved the
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace big walk when an NDA Young
Democrat posing as a UDF Young Democrat attacked the big walk. This
incident greatly embarrassed UDF the official said.
"In the same way as Bin Laden's attack embarrassed the United States
government, the attack on UDF National Headquarters will be a
embarrassment to President Bakili Muluzi and his UDF government," he
The NDA official added: "Such an attack will also be looked upon as
breakdown of security in the country. People including investors and
donors would say if people can raze down UDF offices what can prevent
them from attacking any office or any organisation."
He revealed the attack would be part of NDA's campaign strategy aimed
creating an impression that the UDF is failing to run the country
The Malawi Standard reporter visited two camps housing the notorious
NDA Young Democrats, one in Bvumbwe and another near Blantyre
Teachers College close to Mpinganjira sister's house.-0- Insider
Desperation Setting in
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
September 5, 2002
Posted to the web September 5, 2002
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has warned that "quiet desperation" was
setting in in parts of Malawi, where villagers have resorted to eating
in a bid to stave off hunger.
The lowland area of Zomba was one of the worst-affected regions,
because cyclical floods have wiped out crops traditionally used as
reserves during times of drought, CRS said in its latest statement on
food security situation in the country.
"We are seeing signs in the villages of quiet desperation," Debra
Edwards, CRS country representative in Malawi, was quoted as a saying.
People who have depleted what little they had in the way of food
have resorted to eating unripened maize or grass. "Both of these
mechanisms can cause diarrhoea and other health problems, and can
lead to malnutrition, especially for children, the elderly and those
weak from HIV/AIDS," Edwards said.
In response, CRS has stepped up its emergency food aid in Malawi.
Beginning on Tuesday this week, CRS conducted a general distribution
maize, corn soya blend and beans to 510 households (about 2,500
in about 20 villages in the district of Zomba.
"The amount of food aid to be distributed this month has increased to
1,624 mt, from 673 mt in August, based on the increased need," CRS
About three million Malawians are in need of food aid due to several
of poor harvests as a result of a cycle of drought, erratic rainfall
"Coupled with a high rate of population growth (3.3 percent),
and soil degradation, this leaves Malawi currently facing its worst
crisis in 50 years," CRS said.
In addition to the general food distributions to targeted villages, CRS
conducting nutritional surveys to identify villages with severely
malnourished children, and was providing them with supplementary
"CRS is also addressing the underlying factors that have contributed
this crisis through an agricultural rehabilitation project that will
crop diversification, strengthening seed systems, and drought
These emergency response programmes are being carried out in
harmony with existing development and HIV/AIDS programming in the
country," the agency noted.
Malawi is one of six countries in Southern Africa currently facing a
security crisis, along with Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Lesotho and
Swaziland. About 1.2 million mt of food aid is required throughout the
region until March 2003 to avert famine.
Batty Bob rattles his sabre
President Robert Mugabe vowed to crack down on
whites in Zimbabwe who
oppose his policies and have defied eviction orders
to abandon their farms,
state media reported on Thursday.
Mugabe said half the 2 900 white farmers served
eviction notices disobeyed
a recent deadline to leave their properties under a
government program that
seizes land from whites and redistributes it to
"Time is not on their side," Mugabe was quoted by
state radio as saying.
The increasingly authoritarian leader said his
government would take action
against those who defied its orders.
Despite a looming famine in southern Africa, Mugabe
has continued with the
seizure of 95% of the white-owned farmland in the
country, bringing to a
standstill an industry that once helped feed
About six million Zimbabweans are threatened with
Mugabe also lashed out against two prominent white
lawmakers from the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
"Your place is in prison and nowhere else. Otherwise
your home is outside
the country," Mugabe said of the two politicians
upon his return to
Zimbabwe from neighboring South Africa.
Mugabe was greeted at the Harare airport on
Wednesday by thousands of
bussed in supporters. He had been attending the
World Summit on
Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.
Mugabe used his address there on Monday to blame
former colonial ruler, and other Western countries
for the poverty and
despair in his country.
He also defended his seizure of white-owned farms,
saying the program
pitted the majority against the white minority he
described as obdurate and
backed by the British.
Zimbabwe was singled out for criticism by US
Secretary of State Colin
Powell during his speech at the summit, saying the
government was leading
its people to the brink of starvation through its
About 300 white farmers had been arrested since an
August 8 eviction
deadline, police said earlier this week. Most were
freed on bail but have
been forbidden to return to their farms before their
Scores of others fled their farms fearing arrest.
The state Herald newspaper said Mugabe told the
crowd of several thousand
supporters at the Harare airport that the government
was also planning to
seize stakes in foreign owned companies and mines
that he said were
"scooping out our wealth."
"They can't continue like that, using our wealth,"
Mugabe was quoted as
saying. Since March 2000, the government has begun
land for allocation to landless blacks. Most of the
farmland had been in the hands of the white
The land conflict has added to political unrest in
the country and critics say
many prime farms have gone to politicians, military
and police officers, and
government cronies instead of the poor. - Sapa-AP
Zimbabwe: The brave turn to mining to
Men, women and even children in Zimbabwe are turning
to small-scale gold
mining, some of it illegal, as a last resort in the
face of parched and empty
In spite of the dangers, illustrated by two serious
mine collapses this year,
people have continued to arrive at riverbeds and
disused mines hoping to
extract enough of the precious metal to cover their
basic food needs.
With no training or sophisticated equipment, miners
pan or dig for long
hours, for small returns.
A recent report by the feature service AfricaNews,
said that up to 30% of the
new miners were women, who saw their labour as a
form of financial
empowerment. They used the money for fertiliser,
seeds, school uniforms or
travel expenses. Worryingly, many of the miners were
The current rise in the number of small-scale miners
reflects a similar trend
seen during the severe drought of 1992.
Up to half of Zimbabwe's 12 million people face food
shortages in the coming
months. This time the reasons go beyond drought, and
and political upheaval.
Zimbabwe's controversial land-reform programme has
also left hundreds of
thousands of farmworkers and their families with an
insecure future, and few
alternative job opportunities.
"There has been an increase in small-scale miners,
although government is
trying to clamp down due to accidents and
environmental degradation," said
Tinago Ruzive, president of the Associated
Mineworkers Union of Zimbabwe.
The new miners come primarily from rural areas and
tend to work either for
licenced small mines, or move illegally through
disused mines in search of
traces of gold previous miners missed.
A study by the International Labour Organisation
found that miners were
paid poorly and lived in bad conditions. Some were
paid on a "gwaza" basis,
where they were remunerated according to how much
rock they brought to
The study, by mining consultant John Hollaway, said
had a "well established reputation for a
disproportionately high number of
"This has arisen principally from the deaths caused
by such miners
re-entering closed mines illegally to win gold from
the pillars, and from
alluvial miners burrowing into uncompacted river
banks," he said.
In August, it was reported that between 20 and 30
people died when a mine
shaft caved in in Mhondoro, southwest of the
"We have seen a lot of small-scale panning primarily
due to the serious
collapse of the economy," Munyaradzi Bidi, director
of the human rights
group ZimRights, told IRIN.
"Rural households are finding it difficult to cope,
and the unemployment rate
is very high. School leavers can't find jobs, so
illegal gold panning is seen as
a way of finding a quick buck," he said.
"They hope to sell the gold they find for basic
commodities like oil and grain.
They sell to buyers from as far afield as Botswana
and South Africa, and to
the elite in Zimbabwe."
Bidi said the panners formed camps, and moved to new
sites when they
stopped finding gold, as they had no machinery to
dig or blast.
However, ZimRights was concerned about the number of
"They have to fend for themselves and to subsidise
the family budget for
food and rations," Bidi said. "We want them to go to
He said that during the current food crisis, people
were looking for any way
to survive, and this included commercial sex work by
some women at the
He urged the government to formalise small-scale
mining, and to introduce a
welfare grant to help needy people.
Ruzive said the government was currently instituting
training programmes for
A spokesman for the Ministry of Mines was not
immediately available for
Land offer to
White Zimbabwean farmers suffering from
President Mugabe's policy of land seizure have
been offered a lifeline by a fellow African
country, the Central African Republic.
Not only would the farmers be given a safe
haven but their presence would help the
Central African Republic develop and improve
its agriculture, the government says.
Prime Minister Martin Ziguele told Anita
McNaught on BBC's HARDtalk: "We will offer
"My country has no problem with land.
"We are a country with 3.5 million inhabitants
on 624,000 square kilometres. It's a very big
"For each kilometre of land we have less than
one inhabitant. So we have land."
The Central African Republic is rich in natural
resources including unspoilt rainforest and
enjoys high levels of rainfall.
But it remains one of the
least developed countries on
Mr Ziguele said that
exploiting the rainfall to
achieve clean drinking
water and good
irrigation, along with managing sustainable
development of the forests, were the two
most important issues to be addressed in the
He stressed that he and President Ange-Felix
Patasse recognised that agriculture was key to
improving the situation.
He said: "My President phoned me here
yesterday and told me to tell everyone I meet
that we are ready to host people... white
people coming from Zimbabwe because we
want to improve agriculture.
farmers are gradually
being stripped of their
homes and livelihoods,
and some have even been
killed, as part of President
Mugabe's plan to
redistribute land to the
Although Mugabe has
condemned by the
community he has
shown no sign of
relaxing his campaign.
Prime Minister Ziguele said: "What is happening
in Zimbabwe is not a very good example of
what can be done in the sense of harmony
between communities in a country."
He condemned the
situation, adding: "I don't
agree with the way the
problem is explained or
He also said that the
problem seemed "more emotional than
"I think what is important is to help all
components of Zimbabwean society to
find a solution around problems of land."
Zimbabwe eases GM
Harvests have failed across southern Africa
Zimbabwe has agreed to a deal, under which
genetically modified (GM) grain can be
distributed as urgently-needed food aid, says
the UN food agency.
The executive director of the World Food
Programme (WFP), James Morris, said
Zimbabwe's decision would send an important
message to other countries in the region which
have refused food aid because it might contain
Zimbabwe and WFP have
agreed that the maize will
be milled before being
distributed, so that the food
aid cannot be planted.
Zimbabwe and some of its neighbours are
worried that GM seeds could contaminate
locally-grown crops, threatening lucrative
exports to Europe, which insists that food
must be GM-free.
A Zimbabwean minister says the government
has now set up a system of checks to ensure
the grain will not enter the eco-system.
Mr Morris made the announcement after talks
in Harare with Zimbabwean President Robert
"The fact that they
have now concluded
that they are
accepting GM crops or
commodities will be an
important signal to
other countries in the
region," Mr Morris told
"It will enable us to do
our job," he said.
Aid workers say up to
13 million people in
seven countries in Southern Africa face
famine. In Zimbabwe which was once the
bread basket of the region, some six million
people are estimated to need food aid.
The WFP says it already has aid pledges for
about half of the 600,000 tonnes of food it
intends to bring into Zimbabwe in the next few
Most of this comes from the United States and
is not certified as being GM-free.
The government blames the shortages solely
on drought, but the government's campaign to
transfer land from large scale commercial white
farmers has worsened the situation, say many
The GM row has complicated relief efforts
across the region.
Zambia's president is
refusing to overturn his
ban on GM food aid,
labelling it as 'poison' .
Deals to mill GM food
distributed, so that it
could not be planted,
have also placated
fears in Malawi and
US aid officials deny
that the food is
unsafe, pointing out that Americans eat GM
maize every day.
The World Health Organisation has certified the
grain for human consumption and says it does
not constitute a danger to people's health.
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