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  • Christine Chumbler
    Malawi Impose Heavy Fines for Pollution Malawi Insider (Blantyre) September 5, 2002 Posted to the web September 5, 2002 Paul Kang ombe Blantyre Malawi
    Message 1 of 1046 , Sep 6, 2002
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      Malawi Impose Heavy Fines for Pollution

      Malawi Insider (Blantyre)
      September 5, 2002
      Posted to the web September 5, 2002

      Paul Kang'ombe
      Blantyre

      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.

      Chirimba Garments

      Blantyre City Assembly head of health department, Dr. Lycester
      Bandawe,
      said in an interview with The Malawi Standard that a team of people
      that
      comprised of pollution control engineers, environmental health
      officers
      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
      blue/black
      chemicals that are released by the company into a small stream that
      directly flows into Chirimba river, the environmental experts believe
      that the
      chemical might contain acids that can cause skin reaction or burns and
      it
      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
      always busy.

      "The boss says he can not talk to you. He doesn't even find time to
      talk 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
      within
      and out side the City of Blantyre.

      Currently the Assembly is working with the District Health Officers
      (DHOs)
      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)
      with
      a K40 000 fine for dumping fats in Chirimba river.

      According to Bandawe the fats blocked the stream that carries
      industial
      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
      only
      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
      Chirimba river.

      "The City Assembly discovered later that it was the broken sewer line
      that
      blocked the stream and not fats as it was previously alleged," said
      Karim.

      Harry Khoriyo, a refinery manager disclosed that CORI has been writing
      the City Assembly to rehabilitate the sewer line but nothing has been
      done.

      CORI and Chirimba residents' relationship "Some residents who had
      gardens before Chirimba was declared an industrial area in the late
      80s
      have a negative attitude towards CORI because it was the first industry
      to
      settle in the area. It is very sad that people rush to blame CORI on
      issues
      concerning water pollution yet what we discharge into the stream is
      just
      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,
      little did
      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
      sewer
      system further.

      The T-joint where the whole industrial sewer system meet burst and the
      sewer started flowing into Chirimba river untreated and polluting the
      river
      further.

      The sewer system is not mechanical, it flows by gravitation and it
      follows
      the gradient up to Michiru treatment plant.

      Solution A feasibility study conducted by the City assembly indicates
      that
      the only solution to the problem is to overhaul the whole sewer
      system.

      Putting a new sewer system for the industrial area alone would cost
      the
      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
      Assembly to
      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
      in
      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
      head.

      "It is wonderful that Chirimba area has not registered any cholera out
      break
      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
      untreated.

      Adam Saidi who works at a Mr. Mponda's dairy farm in the area said
      that
      they cut elephant grass in and along the river to feed their dairy
      cattle
      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
      all
      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

      Blantyre

      In what can be described as mother of all revenges and the height of
      all
      political tension that this country has never experienced, the
      National
      Democratic Alliance is planning to raze down and set ablaze the
      National
      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
      took
      part in the recent political violence in Mulanje which led the death
      of
      Makina.

      The leader of the NDA Young Democrats assigned this assignment is
      Arubi Changa (code name adopted for media ethics and security
      purposes).
      pnd Chirimba residents' relationship "S
      Arubi and his colleagues say that the NDA is actively working on this
      plot in
      which they would want to destroy data and documents in the office of
      the
      UDF's Secretary General Hon. Katenga Kaunda and further destroy
      computers in the newsroom which are used for the publication of the
      UDF
      News.

      "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
      Democrats.

      He explained that there are some major incidents that the NDA would
      like
      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
      serious
      concerns.

      He said, the NDA security wing the Lebanese would revenge all these in
      one mission, which is attacking and burning the UDF National Offices
      and
      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
      rooms of
      the building," he said.

      In the highly confidential interview, Arubi in the company of nine of
      his
      colleagues said that the 30 strong selected attackers will break into
      the
      building from the back, and their first target will be the office of
      the
      Secretary General. The group would go there in the evening using a
      road
      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
      away.

      He revealed that the NDA Young Democrats are planning to invade the
      UDF National Headquarters at the time when President Bakili Muluzi will
      be
      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
      said.

      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
      work
      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
      the
      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
      pressure group.

      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
      attacking
      to kill five other UDF loyalists Nembo, two Mvulas, Kapito and Moyo.
      The
      killing of the officials was to be done by a group led by a certain
      pure of
      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
      Fungula.

      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
      party.
      The NDA is reported to have organised this group after discovering
      that
      some of the members of their usual hit squad, the Lebanese, are failing
      to
      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
      will be
      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
      at
      embarrassing the UDF and its leadership. He said that they have
      managed
      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
      humiliating
      embarrassment to President Bakili Muluzi and his UDF government," he
      said.

      The NDA official added: "Such an attack will also be looked upon as
      total
      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
      at
      creating an impression that the UDF is failing to run the country
      smoothly.

      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
      Publications

      *****

      Desperation Setting in

      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
      September 5, 2002
      Posted to the web September 5, 2002

      Johannesburg

      Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has warned that "quiet desperation" was
      setting in in parts of Malawi, where villagers have resorted to eating
      grass
      in a bid to stave off hunger.

      The lowland area of Zomba was one of the worst-affected regions,
      mainly
      because cyclical floods have wiped out crops traditionally used as
      reserves during times of drought, CRS said in its latest statement on
      the
      food security situation in the country.

      "We are seeing signs in the villages of quiet desperation," Debra
      Lynne
      Edwards, CRS country representative in Malawi, was quoted as a saying.

      People who have depleted what little they had in the way of food
      reserves,
      have resorted to eating unripened maize or grass. "Both of these
      coping
      mechanisms can cause diarrhoea and other health problems, and can
      lead to malnutrition, especially for children, the elderly and those
      who are
      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
      of
      maize, corn soya blend and beans to 510 households (about 2,500
      people)
      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
      said.

      About three million Malawians are in need of food aid due to several
      years
      of poor harvests as a result of a cycle of drought, erratic rainfall
      and floods.

      "Coupled with a high rate of population growth (3.3 percent),
      deforestation
      and soil degradation, this leaves Malawi currently facing its worst
      hunger
      crisis in 50 years," CRS said.

      In addition to the general food distributions to targeted villages, CRS
      was
      conducting nutritional surveys to identify villages with severely
      malnourished children, and was providing them with supplementary
      feeding.

      "CRS is also addressing the underlying factors that have contributed
      to
      this crisis through an agricultural rehabilitation project that will
      focus on
      crop diversification, strengthening seed systems, and drought
      mitigation.
      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
      food
      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
      Harare

      05 September
      2002 13:56

      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
      landless blacks.

      "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
      southern Africa.

      About six million Zimbabweans are threatened with
      starvation.

      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
      Britain, Zimbabwe's
      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
      land policies.

      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
      trials begin.

      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
      targeting white-owned
      land for allocation to landless blacks. Most of the
      country's commercial
      farmland had been in the hands of the white
      minority.

      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
      survive
      IRIN

      06 September
      2002 08:56

      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
      maize fields.

      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
      children.

      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
      include economic
      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 surface.

      The study, by mining consultant John Hollaway, said
      small scale-mining
      had a "well established reputation for a
      disproportionately high number of
      fatalities".

      "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
      capital, Harare.

      "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
      children panning.

      "They have to fend for themselves and to subsidise
      the family budget for
      food and rations," Bidi said. "We want them to go to
      school."

      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
      camps.

      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
      small-scale miners.

      A spokesman for the Ministry of Mines was not
      immediately available for
      comment.

      *****

      Land offer to
      Zimbabwe's whites

      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
      them land."

      "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
      country.

      "For each kilometre of land we have less than
      one inhabitant. So we have land."

      Agricultural potential

      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
      the continent.

      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
      country.

      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.

      Zimbabwean turmoil

      White Zimbabwean
      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
      blacks.

      Although Mugabe has
      been widely
      condemned by the
      international
      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
      solved."

      He also said that the
      problem seemed "more emotional than
      rational".

      "I think what is important is to help all
      components of Zimbabwean society to
      find a solution around problems of land."

      *****

      Zimbabwe eases GM
      stance

      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
      GM grain.

      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.

      Aid

      Mr Morris made the announcement after talks
      in Harare with Zimbabwean President Robert
      Mugabe.

      "The fact that they
      have now concluded
      that they are
      comfortable in
      accepting GM crops or
      commodities will be an
      important signal to
      other countries in the
      region," Mr Morris told
      journalists.

      "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
      months.

      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
      donors.

      Lost markets

      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
      before being
      distributed, so that it
      could not be planted,
      have also placated
      fears in Malawi and
      Mozambique.

      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.
    • 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
      • 0 Attachment

        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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