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    Malawi Opposition Leader Released By Peter Jegwa Kumwenda Associated Press Writer Monday, October 21, 2002; 6:52 PM LILONGWE, Malawi (AP)– Opposition leader
    Message 1 of 1046 , Oct 22, 2002
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      Malawi Opposition Leader Released

      By Peter Jegwa Kumwenda
      Associated Press Writer
      Monday, October 21, 2002; 6:52 PM

      LILONGWE, Malawi (AP)– Opposition
      leader Gwanda Chakuamba was released on
      bail Monday after a judge ruled there was not
      have sufficient grounds to hold him, his personal
      secretary and two opposition lawmakers on
      defamation charges.

      Chakuamba, the leader of the main opposition
      Malawi Congress Party, was arrested Sunday
      along with his personal secretary, Grace
      Mhango, and parliamentarians Demster
      Chikhawo and George Lowe were arrested
      Monday morning.

      The government ordered the four arrested on
      defamation charges alleging that Chakuamba
      impersonated President Bakili Muluzi by signing the
      president's name to a controversial letter on
      statehouse stationery.

      The opposition dismissed the charge as a political
      ploy and said the country's constitution prevents the
      arrest of lawmakers while Parliament is in session.

      The arrest came amid a government crackdown on
      opponents of a constitutional amendment that would
      allow Muluzi to run for a third term when his second
      five-year term expires in 2004.

      On Friday, Parliament expelled two ruling party
      lawmakers who had declared their opposition to the
      amendment, which was narrowly defeated in July and
      is expected to be resubmitted.

      Muluzi also has ordered the army and police to
      suppress any demonstrations against the proposed
      amendment.

      The letter Chakuamba is accused of writing spelled
      out strategies for ensuring the passage of the
      amendment. It appeared to be signed by Muluzi.

      The third-term debate has split Malawi, with
      opponents arguing Muluzi was trying to impose a
      dictatorship while supporters say Malawians should
      have the opportunity to vote for Muluzi again.

      *****

      Mk15 Million to Fight HIV/Aids

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
      October 21, 2002
      Posted to the web October 21, 2002

      Pushpa Jamieson

      The chairman of the National Aids Commission (NAC), Professor Brown
      Chimphamba presented MK15 million to several organisations who are
      involved in programmes to fight HIV/AIDS in Malawi.

      Sixteen organisation which included Youth organisations, Government
      ministries and hospitals, prisons were among the recipients of funds.

      Chimphamba in his statement cautioned that the funds were to be used
      for
      the intended purpose and added 'It is our challenge as Malawians to
      assure our donors and partners that we are serious and that we really
      want to make a difference to this devastating epidemic.' Project
      Director of
      the Youth Ambassadors , Precious Maliro said the funding that his
      organisation received of MK445,900.00 would go a long way to help
      implement and sustain programmes that the Youth Ambassadors are
      involved in.

      Maliro said some of the funds would go to the Youth Reproductive
      Health
      programme which was being implemented in Blantyre district.

      'Currently we are implementing youth programmes mainly on health
      education and peer counselling. We also go into schools and set up
      youth
      clubs and do youth counselling on the dangers of HIV/AIDS,' Maliro
      said,
      adding, 'The message has gone far and wide but what we want to achieve
      now is behavioural change amongst the youth.' He also said youth that
      had
      undergone Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) and were HIV
      positive
      were the key implementors of programmes for the youth.

      Nkhota-kota AIDS Support Organisation received MK1,519,730.00 which
      the organisation will use in assisting orphans and youth in the area.

      Tifa Ngoma, a counsellor with the organisation said 'We help the
      orphans
      and youth with issues like transport and materials for them to use.'
      NAC in
      Malawi receives financial support to help fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic
      from
      donors like NORAD, Canadian CIDA and UNPD.

      Malawi will soon receive up to US$196 million over a period of 5 years
      from
      the Global Fund and most of these funds will be grants for HIV/AIDS
      programmes and interventions.

      'For year one we will get about US$12 million, but for the five years
      approval had been given that we receive US$196 million. Receipt of
      that
      was based on what we do with the money in the first year,' said
      Kamphambe, adding, 'Disbursement will be based on the activities we
      have taken and reports and auditing so that there should be
      transparency
      and accountability.'

      *****

      Lawyers Says: Leave Muluzi Alone

      Malawi Insider (Blantyre)
      October 21, 2002
      Posted to the web October 21, 2002

      Brian Ligomeka
      Blantyre, Malawi

      The Law Society of Malawi has described as illegal and
      unconstitutional
      calls by the opposition sponsored Forum for the Defence of the
      Constitution, some churches and non governmental organisations that
      President Bakili Muluzi should withdraw the proposed Third Term Bill.

      Chairman for the Law Society of Malawi John Katsala told The Malawi
      Standard that the President who is a member of the executive branch of
      government is not supposed to withdraw the bill.

      "The President cannot withdraw the bill because he is not the one who
      has
      proposed it. He is also not the one who is going to table it," said
      Katsala.

      He observed that it is unfortunate that members of the Forum for the
      Defence of the Constitution, some churches and non governmental
      organisations are misleading the people by continuously asking the
      President to withdraw the proposed Third Bill or to make a statement
      on
      the Bill.

      "It is strange that everyone knows that the bill will be moved in
      Parliament
      by the Attorney General Phoya, who also doubles as Minister of Justice,
      so
      why on earth are these anti-Third Term campaigners putting unnecessary
      pressure on President Bakili Muluzi," queried Katsala.

      He explained that people should not forget that the issue of the Third
      Term
      is not about Bakili Muluzi but about the tenure of office for the
      country's
      Presidents.

      The Law Society Chairman said that people could actually intervene in
      the
      matter after Parliamentarians have discussed it in Parliament and have
      decided to turn it into law.

      "The Head of State of this country can reject bills that he feels may
      not be
      good for the nation when they have passed through all the stages in
      Parliament and have been brought before him for signing them into
      law,"
      said Katsala.

      Concurring with Katsala is the head of the Law Department at
      Chancellor
      College Dr. Edge Kanyongolo, who says the problem with the opponents
      of the Third Term Bill is that they are politicizing the matter too
      much and
      too far.

      While the issue about the proposed Third Term Bill is political, by
      tabling it
      in Parliament for legislation purposes, it has taken a legal
      dimension.

      "The opponents of the Third Term Bill could take the right direction if
      they
      look at the issue from both political and legal points of view. They
      should
      ask themselves: Who has drafted the Bill? Who is going to move the Bill
      in
      Parliament? Who can accept or reject the Bill? They should not just
      concentrate on waging a supposed personal political war against
      President Bakili Muluzi," said the law lecturer.

      Kanyongolo said some people have politicized the issue so much that
      they
      have created some political misconceptions on the proposed Third Term
      Bill.

      "We should remember that the power to propose, make, amend, and
      repeal laws in Malawi lies with members of parliament. It is not the
      President who makes laws nor does he repeal laws," said Kanyongolo.

      The law lecturer who is also a constitutional law expert said in any
      political
      debate people should always take into consideration the separate roles
      and functions of the three arms of government: the executive, the
      legislature and the judiciary.

      A visiting nutrition expert on hunger assessment from America who
      asked
      for anonymity expressed a lot of surprise at the amount of debate
      about
      virtually very little on the Third Term when Malawians have more
      problems
      than this Bill.

      He said "most politicians and some church men that I have met during
      the
      past ten days have been talking about third term and very few are
      talking
      about the food situation in Malawi nor are they talking about AIDS. A
      church
      leader in Blantyre was asking for financial support for Third Term when
      I
      was talking to him about the food situation and how we can avert
      future
      food shortages".

      The Chairman of Malawi's Chief's Council, senior Chief Kaomba
      describes
      those who are pressurizing Muluzi to ask Parliament to withdraw the
      Bill as
      being ignorant of the tenets of democracy.

      "In a democracy members of parliament are free to discuss all issues
      that
      people at the grassroots have asked them to. The problem in this
      country
      is that most opposition and religious leaders have lost direction and
      they
      do not understand the Constitution. Moreover they misinterpret the
      relationship between politics and religion. It is no wonder that some
      politicians in the opposition would like to take advantage of them," he
      said.

      He explained that such people tend to apply religious rules,
      procedures,
      practices and commandments to politics. For example, in some churches
      the wishes of the people do not matter. Leaders are just appointed for
      them from religious capitals elsewhere. Hence their wish to select a
      leader
      for Malawians.

      He further observed that it does not make sense for such opposition
      and
      religious leaders to bother Muluzi on the Third Term issue, which is
      being
      championed by the people themselves. Muluzi has not been to anybody's
      home campaigning for Third Term but it is the people who want him to
      stand, " he said.

      He added, "democracy will lose its meaning if the wishes of the people
      are
      suppressed. In a democracy the wishes of the people are articulated in
      Parliament by their elected representatives who in our case are
      Parliamentarians. If Parliamentarians express only their personal
      views
      and disrespect the views of their constituents, then such
      Parliamentarians
      are not representatives of the people who voted them into power."

      He said it is surprising that people holding unelectable offices are
      suppressing the views and wishes of the electorate. It is also
      surprising
      that such people would like to decide a leader for the people of
      Malawi.

      "Malawians do not go to polls to elect bishops, reverends, pastors or
      PAC
      leaders. We go to polls to elect Parliamentarians and Councilors, so
      why
      on earth should they impose their non-democratic practices on us? Who
      are they serving?" wondered senior Chief Kaomba in a telephone
      interview
      from Lilongwe.

      A Chancellor College based political scientist says the problem with
      many
      Malawians is that they are failing to grasp, understand and interpret
      what
      the President said recently in a Special Address to the nation.

      "The President clearly told Malawians to re-focus their minds to more
      important issues such as the food shortage problem, HIV/AIDS and the
      other socio-economic issues instead of spending energies on the Third
      Term issue," said the political scientist.

      She explained that the President likewise re-directed the focus of
      Malawians from the Third Term issue to thinking of higher goals,
      ideals,
      and values in his statement when launching his book, Mau Anga: The
      Voice of a Democrat.

      She said that it is surprising to see some opposition parties spending
      so
      much time on the Third Term issue when their parties are in deep
      political,
      financial and leadership crisis.

      "The issue of the Third Term has confused almost all opposition parties
      in
      the country. They have totally lost direction, forgetting their
      responsibilities
      and obligation to offer constructive criticism to government," said
      the
      political science lecturer.

      Most people talked to at random between Limbe and Blantyre have said
      that they still love Muluzi as their President and 2004 is 18 months
      away to
      start thinking about another leader. Some have challenged those in
      opposition together with those in the religious organizations that are
      campaigning against Muluzi as an individual to identify their own
      leader
      who should compete with Muluzi at the 2004 polls or if they want, call
      for a
      snap election against Muluzi now.

      *****

      Gwanda Snubs Muluzi's Offer

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
      October 21, 2002
      Posted to the web October 21, 2002

      Christopher Jimu

      Malawi Congress Party President Gwanda Chakuamba recently turned
      down an offer from Local Government Minister Patrick Mbewe to meet
      President Muluzi in an effort to gain his support in order to get the
      Third
      Term Bill passed when it is presented in Parliament, ACCORDING to
      impeccable sources Muluzi ordered Mbewe to visit Chakuamba and offer
      him a substantial amount of money so that he tows the government line
      on
      the third term bill after Tembo had indicated that he would not vote
      for the
      Third Term Bill.

      'The President is very desperate to cling on to power and as a result
      he is
      trying any means possible to win the support of opposition leaders.
      With
      Tembo's surprise about turn he thought Chakuamba would be the best
      person to use,' The Chronicle was informed. The source said Mbewe also
      mentioned that since the courts had found Tembo in contempt of court,
      his
      political career was finished and was of no importance or use to the
      UDF
      Chakuamba when contacted for comment admitted in an interview
      yesterday that Mbewe approached him on the October 15 telling him that
      an appointment with Muluzi had already been arranged atLilongwe State
      Lodge.

      'It is true he came to me offering me a substantial amount of money if
      I
      accepted to meet Muluzi. I was very surprised because all along I have
      been vilified by the UDF as a person who practices bad politics and to
      see
      Mbewe coming to me with this offer it was a big surprise. I told him I
      could
      not go to meet Muluzi,' Chakuamba said.

      Chakuamba said that there is no way he would sell his birthright and
      conscious in exchange of cash.

      'I don't want to abandon my constituents to please individuals. My
      main
      goal is to see this country going forward not backwards and I say no
      to
      third term,' Chakuamba asserted. He said he has been fighting against
      the
      UDF in court over the results of the 1999 general elections, which went
      in
      favour of Muluzi, thereby tarnishing his image.

      'After all that they did to my reputation and the humiliation that
      they
      subjected me, how do they expect me to go back and work with them,'
      said Chakuamba.

      When contacted for comment Patrick Mbewe said, refused to give The
      Chronicle an interview and said that he was attending a meeting.

      Currently, the UDF and president Bakili Muluzi are working hand in
      hand
      with AFORD president Chakufwa Chihana and a few MPs from AFORD to
      have the bill passed. John Tembo who was an ace for Bakili Muluzi in
      the
      Open Term Bill made a surprise U-Turn, throwing the UDF and Bill in
      tantrums.

      Information from Malawi Congress Party say that presently, there are
      only
      three MCP MPs that are still going to vote for the bill. The MPs are
      Stevie
      Kamoto for Lilongwe city North, Sebastian Chikhadza, Lilongwe City
      South
      East and Maclean Ndafakale for Nsanje South West.

      The three members of Parliament are said to have refused to attend a
      caucus that was organised by the leader of Opposition in parliament,
      who
      is also vice president of MCP, John Tembo.

      *****

      Mwawa Contradicts Muluzi On Hospital

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
      October 21, 2002
      Posted to the web October 21, 2002

      Christopher Jimu

      Minister of Health Yusuf Mwawa contradicted President Muluzi on the
      pledge made by the President in 1996 that he was going to build a new
      hospital at the site of the Lilongwe Bottom Hospital.

      Standing on a point of information in parliament last Friday when a
      member of parliament for Lilongwe East E.F Kwanjana wanted to know
      why Ministers does not remind the President on the pledges he make,
      Mwawa said that according to the records at his ministry Muluzi never
      pledged to build a hospital.

      'To say that the President promised to build a new hospital is not
      true.

      According to records the president promised to add new structures to
      the
      old ones that are already existing,' Mwawa said.

      But Kwanjana told Mwawa that he had evidence that Muluzi promised to
      build a new hospital in Lilongwe.

      'Honourable Minister, you were not yet Health Minister when that
      pledge
      was made. What I would like to know is that why do ministers fail to
      remind
      the president on pledges,' Kwanjana insisted.

      Kwanjana also wondered as to why new structures are being constructed
      on premises that were supposed to be reserved for future hospital
      expansion programmes.

      'We are seeing new structures being erected near the hospital and we
      continue to wonder as to what is happening. This plot was supposed to
      be
      reserved for future hospital expansions,' explained Kwanjana.

      But an adamant Mwawa hinted that new structures are being erected
      behind the old buildings and those are the ones Muluzi promised.

      'If you go to the bottom hospital you will see new structures being put
      up
      and these are the ones the President promised,' Mwawa said.

      Apart from promising the new hospital, president Muluzi also promised
      to
      build new houses for Police officers from area 1 to area 47.

      Up to now nothing has been done.

      Muluzi has been accused by the opposition for making promises which he
      knows he will not fulfil.

      *****

      Police Torture Suspect in Jail

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
      October 21, 2002
      Posted to the web October 21, 2002

      Levison Mwase

      Member of Parliament for Lilongwe South West George Lowe has
      accused the Malawi Police of torturing his son Vincent who was picked
      by
      the law enforcers a fortnight ago on allegations of theft.

      In an interview last week, Lowe said his son who was arrested on
      October
      6, was badly tortured by the police to the extend that he had to be
      taken to
      Likuni hospital for a leg operation last week Tuesday.

      A medical report from Police Headquarters clinic at area 30 in
      Lilongwe
      where Vincent was earlier referred to for treatment, indicates that he
      sustained a painful swollen leg and bruises because of the police
      assault.

      The MCP MP said his son was on October 6 summoned to appear before
      a Kangaroo court called Mpanda, presided over by some police officers
      and some politicians at Chigwilizano, where he was accused of stealing
      a
      cellphone, car radio, sausages and driving licence belonging to a man
      Vincent had helped to push his car three days earlier.

      Lowe said his son who runs a car business was on October 3 approached
      by an identified man near post office junction in Likuni to help push
      the
      man's car, only three days later to be accused of having stolen items
      from
      the car.

      'My son was coming from delivering Paprika to Mpampha when a man
      approached him and asked him to help him push his car which had fallen
      near the post office junction. The owner of the car together with my
      son
      managed to push the car but we were surprised later that my son was
      being accused of having stolen materials from the car," the MP said.

      The MP said after Vincent appeared before the *kangaroo' court in
      Likuni,
      he was taken to Lilongwe Police station where he was heavily beaten by
      police.

      Lowe said on top of beating the suspect, Police refused to grant his
      son
      bail for four days from 6th to Friday the 11th of October.

      The MP said the police granted Vincent bail because the Malawi Human
      Rights Commission had intervened after he approached the organisation
      for assistance.

      He said earlier on Monday and Tuesday the police had refused the
      suspect's relatives to visit him.

      Lowe said a day before his son was granted bail, the Police, after
      realising
      the bad condition Vincent was in, took him to Police Headquarters
      clinic at
      Area 30 for treatment.

      At area 30 Vincent was referred to Lilongwe Central hospital for x-ray
      on
      his swollen leg.

      However, instead of taking Vincent to Lilongwe Central hospital as per
      the
      Clinic's medical officer report dated 10 October, the police took
      Vincent to
      Lilongwe police station for further custody. The Police who earlier
      had
      accused Vincent of theft, a charge also indicated on the bail-bond, at
      Area
      30 clinic later changed the charge and accused Vincent of possessing a
      pistol.

      Lowe said when the bail was granted he decided to take his son to
      Likuni
      hospital for treatment. He said Vincent's condition is still worse.

      Police Spokesperson George Chikowi confirmed the incident but asked
      for
      more time to find out what exactly happened from the Lilongwe Police
      station where the torture took place.

      Lowe accused the police of failing to reform saying the duty of the
      police is
      not to punish or torture suspects.

      *****

      UDF Change Strategy On Third Term

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
      October 21, 2002
      Posted to the web October 21, 2002

      Christopher Jimu

      The ruling United Democratic Front in its bid to cling on to power by
      amending section 83 (3) of the constitution has changed its approach
      of
      wooing opposition MP's to vote for the bill when it is presented in
      parliament.

      The party which lost millions of kwachas through buying off of
      opposition
      MP's in its earlier bid to change the constitution to have limitless
      terms is
      now offering the MP's an audience with President Muluzi at the State
      Lodge where they are being promised cash.

      Five opposition members of parliament confessed to The Chronicle last
      Friday that they were promised an undisclosed amount of money if they
      accept to have an audience with President Bakili Muluzi.

      "In June prior to the seating of the July parliament session a lot of
      members of parliament received cash but now they are just being told
      to
      visit the president at the State Lodge," one member of parliament told
      The
      Chronicle.

      "The president does not want to give money to anyone any more. What
      happened last time should have given him a bitter lesson. He lost
      millions
      of kwachas," he added.

      Another Malawi Congress Party (MCP) member also speaking on
      condition of anonymity revealed that he has been approached on more
      than three occasion to go and have an audience with President Muluzi
      but
      has declined to do this.

      "They have been pestering me to go and see the President on the third
      term issue but I don't want to be used to change laws that will benefit
      a few
      individuals to the detriment of the whole nation," he said.

      One of the people who also recently turned down an offer to meet
      President Muluzi is Gwanda Chakuamba.

      The MCP leader was approached by Local Government Minister Patrick
      Mbewe on October 15 for an audience with Muluzi at Lilongwe State
      Lodge
      an offer which he also snubbed.

      "There is no way I can work with the UDF. I have been vilified and
      castigated left, right and centre and now that they want to change laws
      to
      suit their whims they are coming to me with offers, there is no way I
      can
      sink so low to receive cash from UDF," Chakuamba said.

      The Chronicle was also reliably informed that the MCP was trying its
      best
      to stop its six MP's to vote for the third term bill when it is
      presented in
      parliament this month.

      The six MP's are Kamoto, Chikadza, Bondwe, Mphunga, Ndafakale and
      Dzoole Mwale.

      *****

      Half of confiscated land in Zimbabwe lies
      fallow
      Harare
      22 October
      2002 07:29

      Only about half of the farm land confiscated by the
      government in one of the
      country's formerly most productive agricultural
      areas has been occupied by
      new settlers, close to a month after the expiry of
      the first deadline for them
      to move on.

      David Karimanzira, the governor of Mashonaland East
      province in northern
      Zimbabwe, the biggest tobacco producing region and a
      major source of
      other crops and livestock, said only 50,5% of the
      people allocated plots on
      the confiscated farms had moved on.

      "We have given them a deadline up to the end of this
      month, failure of which
      the land will be given to other applicants," he said
      in the daily Herald
      newspaper on Monday.

      It is the second deadline issued in two months to
      the new settlers. The farm
      seizures include the homesteads and billions of
      Zimbabwe dollars of
      equipment from combine harvesters to thousands of
      tons of fertiliser.

      Amid a famine in which half of the country's
      13-million people are facing
      starvation, agricultural output in the country once
      dubbed "Africa's
      breadbasket" has dropped to at least a quarter of
      normal, according to food
      monitoring agencies.

      "We want production on the farms and people should
      be on their farms
      before the end of the rainy season," said
      Karimanzira. The Herald has
      reported that a survey of the rate of occupation of
      seized farms in the
      country's other nine provinces was not complete.

      In August, local government minister Ignatius Chombo
      who heads the
      government's resettlement committee, gave the
      intended new farmers a
      month in which to move on to the land allocated to
      them.

      He said then "about half" of the land seized all
      over the country had been
      occupied by new settlers.

      Gerry Davidson, chief executive of the Commercial
      Farmers' Union, said the
      real rate of occupation was likely to be much
      lower.

      Local farmers' associations still operating around
      the country "would not
      even put the figure as high as half", he said. Farms
      designated for new black
      commercial farmers had been split into at least 12
      plots for their new
      occupiers. One property had been cut up into 61
      plots.

      "If there are three or four people on the land, its
      surprising. The end result is
      a serious decrease in efficiency." On several farms
      one new settler has
      moved into the plot around the homestead, but the
      rest of the plots were
      vacant.

      "A lot of these people didn't realise the
      implications
      of what it meant to start farming," Davidson said.
      Most were unable to raise
      finance to begin cropping or keeping livestock, many
      were reluctant to start
      without a ready-built home and others were allocated
      land unusable for
      agriculture.

      "If there had been a properly scheduled take-over
      this trough in production
      could have been avoided," he said.

      "Clearly it demonstrates it is not a land reform
      programme. It was done
      because there was an election coming." The CFU
      estimates there are now
      about only 600 of the former commercial farmers left
      on their land out of
      about 4 000 six months ago.

      The Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe said last week
      that about 250 000
      farm workers had been made jobless by the
      evictions.

      In August, police arrested hundreds of white farmers
      for allegedly disobeying
      eviction orders, although many of them had obtained
      court orders ruling that
      their eviction orders were illegal.

      Ruling party officials, usually backed by mobs of
      party militants, have forced
      many more farmers who have not received eviction
      notices off their land,
      often at gunpoint. - Sapa

      *****

      MDC official found dead in jail
      Harare
      22 October
      2002 10:49

      Learnmore Jongwe, the former representative and MP
      for the opposition
      Movement for Democratic Change who was arrested
      three months ago for
      allegedly murdering his wife, was found dead on
      Tuesday in the prison
      where he was awaiting trial, state radio reported.

      It quoted commissioner of prisons Paradzayi Zimonde
      as saying that the
      popular 27-year-old politician's body was found in
      his cell in Chikurubi prison
      on Harare's outskirts.
      heir f
      No explanation for the death was given, but Zimonde
      said that "a full
      investigation" by doctors, forensic scientists and
      police detectives had been
      launched. Jongwe, a lawyer, handed himself over to
      police on 21 August,
      two days after fleeing his Harare home where the
      body of his wife, Rutendo
      (23) was found with multiple stab wounds.

      His lawyers said that Jongwe admitted to police he
      had killed her in an
      uncontrollable rage after he caught her having sex
      with a male colleague in
      the law firm where she worked as an attorney. He was
      due to go on trial in
      the Harare High Court on November 25.

      Magistrates have dismissed repeated attempts to
      secure his release on
      bail. Comment from the MDC was not immediately
      available. Jongwe first
      came to prominence in the late 1990s when he led the
      national student
      union in demonstrations against the rule of
      President Robert Mugabe, and
      became the official representative for the MDC soon
      after its establishment
      in 1999.

      In parliamentary elections in 2000, Jongwe won his
      constituency in the poor
      Harare township of Kuwandzana by an overwhelming
      margin against his
      opponent from Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party. He
      married his wife in August
      last year. His death has orphaned his 10-month-old
      daughter.

      Jongwe and his fellow MPs suffered constant
      harassment and arrest by
      authorities during the last three years as the
      opposition rose to prominence
      in Zimbabwe. - Sapa
    • 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
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        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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