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  • Christine Chumbler
    More Action Needed to Support Orphans UN Integrated Regional Information Networks October 24, 2002 Posted to the web October 24, 2002 Johannesburg Care for
    Message 1 of 1046 , Oct 25, 2002
      More Action Needed to Support Orphans

      UN Integrated Regional Information
      October 24, 2002
      Posted to the web October 24, 2002


      Care for Malawi's orphans remains one of the government's major
      challenges, but little is being done to support the burgeoning number
      of destitute children, a British think-tank said in a recent report.

      In its report titled, 'Down and out in Zomba: the situation and
      of orphans in Malawi', the Overseas Development Group (ODC) said
      there was very little evidence "of support, provision or planning for
      outcomes of HIV/AIDS or for the future of orphans".

      Conservative estimates put the total number of orphans at 850,000 to
      1.2 million, rising to 2 million by the end of next year.

      The high incidence of death caused by HIV/AIDS means that these
      children are left either to fend for themselves or placing an extra
      burden on the resources of guardians who often cannot adequately
      feed themselves.

      The government has said it lacks resources to handle the growing
      orphan crisis and relies on the UN Children's Fund for 80 percent of
      child-care programme budget.

      Moreover, the condition of orphans was made worse by extreme
      poverty. The southern African country is one of the world's poorest
      was facing acute food shortages due to a severe regional drought.

      "Orphans have little food, few clothes, no bedding and no soap ... and
      as a whole, community care because of HIV/AIDS is overwhelmed
      and breaking down," the report said.

      In the past, the extended family system in Malawi provided an
      safety net for the small number of orphans in society, especially in
      areas. However, with the advent of HIV/AIDS, some strands in the
      extended family have become increasingly frayed.

      "There is need for a practical and culturally relevant approach to
      combating the growing problem of AIDS orphans. The approach
      needs to be multi-faceted since there are so many direct and indirect
      factors that determine the problem," the report said.

      Recent research has shown that communities prefer
      community-based solutions to institutional care for orphans.
      Government guidelines for orphan care recommend that orphans be
      kept within their communities, and argue that government should be at
      the centre of national orphan-care activities.

      In an innovative project initiated by the World Medical Fund (WMF)
      and a local community, the orphaned children stay in the village of

      WMF appoint guardians, who benefit by receiving support through
      food and farm inputs so the child would not be a drain on their

      WMF also provides the child with clothes, pays for their school fees
      and uniforms and arranges Saturday meetings for the orphans to get
      together thus reducing any feelings of isolation.

      The ODC study called on the government to support programmes that
      encourage vocational training alongside basic education.

      The report suggested that donor agencies, NGOs and government
      strengthen their support to extended families as the "child's needs
      ideally met within this context".


      Third Term Divides Ruling Party

      UN Integrated Regional Information
      October 24, 2002
      Posted to the web October 24, 2002


      A High Court in Malawi has reversed a presidential decree banning
      demonstrations linked to President Bakili Muluzi's alleged bid for a
      third term of office.

      During a rally in May, Muluzi banned demonstrations either in favour
      against a campaign for him to run for an unconstitutional third
      term, and ordered the army and police to "deal" with anyone who
      defied the order.

      But Judge Edward Twea said in his ruling on Tuesday: "The president
      has no powers to make laws ... If he was addressing the rally as head
      of state, he could have put the directives in writing, citing the
      constitution and forwarded it to parliament."

      Twea's ruling was the latest setback for the ruling United Democratic
      Front (UDF) attempts to change the constitution to allow Muluzi to
      stand again in 2004. As the political temperature rises in Malawi, the
      UDF has faced mounting opposition from NGOs, churches and
      Western governments over the third-term issue.

      In what appeared to be a response to the pressure, in a national
      address earlier this month, Muluzi urged members of parliament
      (MPs) to prioritise the country's food crisis and not the third-term
      issue. "At this time when our people are starving, it seems
      irresponsible and hard-hearted to pre-occupy ourselves with politics,
      especially when the next general elections are not [due] until 2004,"
      Muluzi said.

      Muluzi has maintained an official silence on whether he intends to run
      again in 2004. But Justice Minister Duncan Phoya had announced that
      the government would re-table a bill in October proposing an
      amendment to the constitution, after an earlier attempt was narrowly
      defeated in July.

      However, the UDF has reportedly begun to split on the issue, and
      some party members have publically declared their opposition to an
      amendment. MP and former deputy agriculture minister Joe Manduwa,
      told IRIN: "I told the president that I don't want him to contest for
      third term. I also told him that even if you pass the bill, you'll not
      be the
      one to reap the benefits because the force [against you] out there is
      too great."

      For advising the president to withdraw, Manduwa was expelled from
      the UDF and his parliamentary seat was declared vacant. But a High
      Court re-instated him, together with another renegade, ex-deputy
      finance minister Jan-Jaap Sonke, who was fired earlier this month.

      Sonke said that "I begged him to withdraw before a lot of damage was

      He told IRIN that he felt the UDF would lose the 2004 election if the
      to amend the constitution was passed, and donors would halt aid to

      Sonke's concerns were shared by Jeoff Shaba, deputy director for
      Malawi CARER, a human rights NGO that provides counselling
      services on civil and political rights. Malawi CARER is one of 40
      human rights NGOs opposing the third-term bid.

      "The donors are not happy. If the bill is approved, that will be the
      beginning of conflict, not the end. Because he [Muluzi] will want to
      to power when people don't want him," Shaba said. "The president
      has lost direction, his party has lost direction, [and] the whole
      has lost direction. They are leading us into an abyss."

      According to Sonke, at least 10 other ruling party MPs would not
      support the bill if it was tabled, but were too afraid to declare that

      "We have established a democracy in Malawi but the [ruling] party
      does not behave according to democratic principles. One of my
      colleagues, an MP, told me that if he had a gun, he would blow my
      head off. That's the pressure we have," Sonke said.

      In parliament on Wednesday, a member of the ruling party reportedly
      roughed up a local journalist, Gideon Munthali, for asking whether he
      had received a petition from his constituency asking him to vote
      against the third-term bill if it ever came to the national assembly.
      Another MP had also received a written petition asking him to vote
      against the bill.


      Youths Shun STD Treatment

      Malawi Insider (Blantyre)
      October 24, 2002
      Posted to the web October 24, 2002

      Jane Phiri
      Blantyre, Malawi

      Youths have decided poor reception at the country hospitals especially
      when they seek medical attention for STD pregnancies and HIV
      opportunistic diseases.

      Robert Malindama, the executive director of Warlords Youth Centre in
      Blantyre Zingwangwa township says public Service Medical
      attendants have built a wall between themselves and the youths.

      For a long time, public Service hospital workers have reacted
      indifferently to youths when they present their reproductive health
      problems, Malindana notes.

      He points out that medical personnel have over the years ridiculed
      youths for getting infected with STI, HIV/AIDS and being impregnated
      at a tender age.

      A national research by the Malawi AIDS Council shows that most of
      the HIV infection rate among young girls being four to six times more
      than that of boys in the same age group. The high rate of HIV/AIDS
      and sexually transmitted infections is said to be on the rise because
      50 per cent of both girls and boys have their first sexual experience
      15 years.

      The biological immaturity of the genital track in young girls engaging
      sexual activity makes them susceptible to an increases rate HIV/AIDS
      and STI the repat says.

      Malindama contends that the youth problems could be mitigated
      through youth friendly health services in the country hospitals.

      Elizabeth Kashoko Ministry of Youth network Coordinator for the South
      says government is committed to curb reproductive health problems
      affecting the youths.

      Government is working hand in hand with UNICEF, Save the Children
      Fund, Medicine San Frontiers and other donor agents to fight all
      reproductive health problems that threat the lives of the country
      she says.

      Kashoko says government is in a drive to provide information
      regarding HIV/AIDS and STI. Young people need information to make
      informed sexual reproductive health choices, she says pointing out
      that more boys than girls undergo voluntary counselling and testing.

      Nurses have been trained to be youth friend and have been trained in
      STI, pregnancy and sexual violence counseling, says Kashoko
      emphasing that the youths, chiefs and opinion leaders in society have
      also been drilled to break cultural and traditional taboo that promote

      A medical health sirvellaint one Mr. Kantwanje attributes the
      to lack of adequate personnel and infrastructure.


      Renewable Energy Technology Combats

      Malawi Insider (Blantyre)
      October 24, 2002
      Posted to the web October 24, 2002

      Hobbs Gama
      Blantyre, Malawi

      Malawi is one of those countries in the developing world facing acute
      environmental degradation, due to a fast growing population and
      heavy reliance on vegetation as a major source of energy.

      The rate of deforestation in Malawi is said to be more than 40,000
      square hectares of forest per year, prompting stakeholders in the
      environmental sector to look for alternative energy sources.

      The alternative is none other than solar energy. The country has
      abundant sunshine for most of the year, and the environmental
      authorities are encouraging the citizens to turn to solar technology.

      Solar energy is cost-effective and is deemed to improve the lives of
      the rural poor majority because of its cheap cost and sustainability.

      It could also improve village-based businesses. Solar energy can be
      used in providing power for light, heat, telecommunications, and can
      work in schools, homes, shops as well as health institutions.
      Proponents who mostly target the rural sector for the project, say
      one way of facilitating the government?fs poverty reduction

      The way things are the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi
      (ESCOM) which is the sole power and energy provider. It is has just
      been commercialised, but due to technological limitations, ESCOM
      has not been able to extend its grid system to most parts of the

      Good news

      But there is good news. On 5 March this year, the United Nations
      Development Programme (UNDP) launched Malawi?fs Barrier
      Removal to Renewable Energy Project, under the Global
      Environmental Facility (GEF) at a ceremony which took place in

      The project will enjoy an initial US $3.5 million funding from the
      agency, which in 1999 also supported the launch of the National
      Sustainable Renewable Energy Programme (NSREP).

      Zahra Nuru, UNDP?fs Resident Representative to Malawi, spoke of
      the importance of the project in checking the environmental
      destruction. The project will also improve the lives of the rural poor
      the absence of electricity.

      Truth to say, experts are concerned about Malawi?fs poor energy
      standing. The country?fs energy balance is heavily skewed towards
      using wood as a fuel.

      About 90 percent of the country?fs population of 12 million people
      depends on wood fuel for their thermo-services, while paraffin and
      candles are used for lighting.

      Only 4 percent of the population has access to electricity, and of
      less than one percent resides in the rural areas. On the other hand,
      percent of the urban population has access to electricity.

      The Government says this is not a healthy situation, bearing in mind
      that the average access rate to electricity in the 14-member Southern
      African Development Community (SADC) is at 29 percent.


      Malawi is currently formulating an energy framework law and
      associated legislation, including the Rural Electrification Act,
      the NSREP has identified a number of barriers that hinder the
      proliferation of renewable energy technologies.

      These barriers include: Lack of a comprehensive energy policy in
      general and renewable energy policy in particular.

      Poor energy governance, instruments and structures and where they
      do exist, renewable energy has never been a player.

      A lack of trained technicians with skills to install and maintain
      renewable energy technology. A lack of dedicated financing
      mechanisms for renewable energy industries.

      A lack of standards and code of practice for industries to follow, in
      order to have quality installations and maintenance arrangements.

      The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs has
      commented on the present situation: Against such a background, it is
      not surprising to note that about 50 percent of all renewable energy
      technology installations which were installed in the past, are not
      working, hence the need to put in place a number of measures to
      ensure the removal of the barriers.

      Measures being taken

      The removal of duty and surtax on all renewable energy technology.
      The Government has negotiated with the Malawi Savings Bank and
      the Commercial Bank of Malawi so that these financial institutions can
      offer loans to companies or individuals to acquire the necessary

      The Government has set targets for the energy sector so that by the
      year 2010 twenty percent, and by 2020, 30 percent of Malawi?fs
      population will have access to electricity.

      The Environment Minister, Harry Thomson, presents the challenge,
      thus: ?gUnless we can provide the people with alternative livelihood
      strategies in time of need, they will still subsist from natural
      The environment must be treated as an economic good and we must
      seek to add value to it.


      People And Wildlife Coexist in Lake Malawi
      National Park

      Malawi Insider (Blantyre)
      October 24, 2002
      Posted to the web October 24, 2002

      Hobbs Gama
      Blantyre, Malawi

      The establishment of a national park or a game reserve in an area is
      often a bone of contention between government officials and local
      people. While government officials preach of the historical,
      and economic importance of such an establishment, local
      communities cry foul because they become victims of such
      development through eviction, loss of land, wealth and even
      positions. The experience of Chembe, an enclave village in southern
      Malawi, is totally different and worth emulating.

      More than 19 years ago people from Chembe, then Malawi largest
      fishing village, were indiscriminately netting thousands and thousands
      of fish at Cape Maclear, Mangochi in southern Malawi. They did not
      know then that their actions posed a great threat to the world most
      prized and rare species of fish that are only found in Lake Malawi.

      Alarmed with the rate of overfishing, which was likely to result in
      extinction of the rare, bright coloured and rock living cichlids,
      known as mbuna, brought up a challenge to the government.

      In 1980 the government declared some 90 sqaure kilometers of land
      encompassing Cape Maclear Peninsula with a water portion
      extending 100 metres as protected area in what become to be known
      as Lake Malawi National Park.

      The establishment of the park was not in itself a guarantee that the
      fauna and the flora in the protected area were at peace from human
      interference. The biggest problem was how to protect the fauna from
      over 20,000 people living in seven enclave villages in the park.

      This problem was unique to Lake Malawi national Park because
      usually people within the boundaries of a designated area moved out
      to be protected. But in this case government officials decided not to
      evict the people as it was felt evicting them then by allowing them to
      live within the park would create more problems.

      The greatest challenge to the park was to find a way for the
      of the enclave villages to co-exists with wild animals.

      The people in the park, the majority of whom have been depending on
      fishing as the only way of earning their livelihood since time
      immemorial, were in frequent conflict with wildlife officials.

      It was only when government with the help of non- governmental
      organizations, organized vigorous civic education that the trend began
      to change. Organizations such as the Small Enterprises Development
      of Malawi (SEDOM) and the World Bank educated people on how
      best they could sustain the natural resources in the area while
      diversifying into other areas of economic livelihood.

      Group Village Headman Chembe of Cape Maclear says little people
      began to take heed of the environmental awareness campaigns. The
      traditional leader says at present almost everybody in the village is
      fully aware of the economic importance of natural resources especially
      the mbuna fish.

      As alternatives to fishing people are now involved in other income
      generating activities like the rearing of rock rabbits, guinea fowls,
      vegetables growing and hunting. These activities are done both on
      individuals level and in groups known as Village Natural Resource
      Management Committees.

      The Villagers are also allowed to fish outside the 100-metre zone of
      the protected areas.

      The most interesting thing, now 19 years after the establishment of
      park, is that anyone who dares to poach animals or fish in the
      protected zone are arrested by voluntary local scouts and prosecuted
      by traditional leaders if they commit minor offences.

      The local leaders refer those who commit serious offences to either
      the police or parks officials.

      George Banda, the park?fs environmental education officer says the
      success of the project is a model that human beings and wildlife can
      co-exist with each other.


      Surprise Rate Cut Not Supported

      Business Day (Johannesburg)
      October 24, 2002
      Posted to the web October 24, 2002

      Thom Khanje

      MALAWI's central bank surprise interest rate cut this week was not
      supported by economic fundamentals on the ground, analysts have

      The Reserve Bank of Malawi surprised the local markets when it
      announced a sudden cut in the country's official lending rate by three
      percentage points to 40% on Tuesday.

      The bank said in a letter to financial institutions the adjustment had
      been effected because there has been a reduction in the amount of
      cash circulating in the economy.

      "Currency in circulation largely accounts for the high levels of
      money and that food prices continue to explain the acceleration of the
      inflation," said the bank.

      While welcoming the adjustment as a positive development that could
      lead to commercial banks reducing lending rates, financial market
      players said yesterday the economic fundamentals on the ground did
      not support the central bank's decision.

      "It is a good move but perhaps it is the timing and that the
      fundamentals on the ground are not ripe enough for such a move. If
      this reduction is to be meaningful to achieve its objectives, there
      several fundamental issues that have to be addressed by all the
      relevant stakeholders," money market dealer Joseph Mwanamvekha
      told the local press.


      Zimbabwe Newspaper Editor Charged

      By Michael Hartnack
      Associated Press Writer
      Thursday, October 24, 2002; 1:10 PM

      HARARE, Zimbabwe –– Police
      have charged the editor of
      Zimbabwe's only independent daily
      newspaper with violating stringent
      new security laws, his newspaper
      reported Thursday.

      Daily News editor Geoff Nyarota
      was charged Wednesday with
      "undermining confidence" in the police by publishing
      allegations of police
      torture given by an opposition activist in court.

      The 51-year-old Nyarota was not held, and no court
      date has been set for
      the case. If convicted, he could face 10 years in

      The charge – the latest move in a government
      crackdown on the media –
      stemmed from a Daily News story about Thomas Spicer,
      18, who testified
      police tortured him last month with beatings and
      electric shocks.

      Police Inspector Charles Mavhangira said the story
      was, "either wholly or
      materially false."

      Nyarota stood by the Daily News story.

      "The statements published were on the basis of
      firsthand information and the
      source of information was disclosed. Publication was
      in the public interest," he als
      said, according to the Daily News.

      Spicer's mother, filmmaker Edwina Spicer, said
      medical reports backed up
      her son's case.

      "Tom could hardly walk and his mouth was lacerated
      from electric shocks
      they applied on him," she said. Her son is out on
      bail and being treated in
      South Africa.

      Nyarota has won awards for his work from the United
      Nations, the World
      Newspaper Congress, and Human Rights Watch. In
      recent months, he has
      been repeatedly charged with violating Zimbabwe's
      new security and media


      Zimbabwe tobacco crop
      'to halve'

      Zimbabwe is the world's second largest tobacco exporter
      Zimbabwe's tobacco harvest is expected to
      halve next year due to the difficulties facing

      Farm disruptions caused by
      the land seizures have
      already reduced this year's
      tobacco crop to about 162
      million kg, from 202 million
      kg last year.

      Now that figure is
      expected to halve again,
      with many farmers
      unable to transplant their seedlings during the
      critical pre-rain season between 15 October
      and 15 November.

      "We're falling behind," Chris Molam, chief
      executive of the Zimbabwe Tobacco
      Association told BBC News Online.

      "Farmers haven't been able to get onto the
      land. November is looming and we really need
      to get the crop out."

      Economists say the reduction of tobacco
      output could be devastating to the country's
      ailing economy.


      "Tobacco has been earning over 30% of our
      foreign exchange, and it is the largest
      employer of labour, so this is going to have
      quite a dramatic impact," Mr Molam explained.

      "It will make a very
      scarce foreign
      currency situation
      pretty dire,
      especially as we
      need to import food
      and fuel."

      Farmers are facing
      other restraints as
      well as the land
      reform programme.

      Banks are reluctant to lend to farmers
      due to the increased risks, fertilizer is
      in short supply and the overall cost of
      production has increased by 150%
      over the past year.

      Hoping for change

      The Zimbabwe Tobacco Association
      made a presentation about the
      outlook to the Parliamentary
      committee on agriculture earlier this

      The association is now hoping the
      government will make some changes
      to help the farmers before the
      country's Budget is announced on 14

      "We're going to miss the boat on a
      lot of potential if we can't get the
      seedlings out there," Mr Molam said.

      Zimbabwe has been the world's
      second largest tobacco exporter after

      But its current plight is likely to see
      it fall behind China and the US.
    • Christine Chumbler
      ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17 The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22, 2006

        ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract

        by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17

        The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by government to look for another contractor instead of China Hunan Construction to construct of the long awaited Karonga/Chitipa road.

        China Hunan from Mainland China won the bid which was approved by the ADB but government later wanted to award the contract to a Portuguese firm, Mota Engil, the second lowest bidder, claiming China Hunan's bid was unrealistically low and that the company had very little experience in Africa.

        Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe confirmed on Sunday the ADB rejected the proposal at a meeting held between the bank and Malawi government in Tunisia last week.

        The Malawi government wanted the Tunisia meeting to authorise it to get another contractor for the road, said Gondwe.

        "They did not allow us to look for another contractor because of their regulations. But we are about to get another alternative for Karonga/Chitipa and I would be surprised if it does not start before end June," said Gondwe.

        The minister explained that the bank insisted that regardless of the unrealistic cost estimates, China Hunan should be allowed to go ahead with the construction.

        But Gondwe could not give further details about the alternatives, arguing there are still a few loose ends to tighten up before disclosing it.

        The problem with China Hunan, according to Gondwe, is that it would require more money to meet the total cost of the project.

        This paper reported last week that government met Taiwanese representatives where they offered to fund the road if the ADB continued to reject its favoured contractor, Mota Engil.

        Gondwe could neither confirm nor deny the reports on the Taiwanese offer, saying government was looking at a number of ways to handle the issue.

        According to Gondwe, the China Hunan's bid was 24 percent lower than the consulting engineers' estimates of K7.9 billion and 34 percent below the second lowest bidder.

        President Bingu wa Mutharika laid a foundation stone for the construction of the road this year ahead of a crucial byelection in Chitipa in December last year.

        The President's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the Chitipa Wenya constituency by-election that fell vacant following the collapse and subsequent death of Speaker of Parliament Rodwell Munyenyembe who belonged to the UDF.

        Last week, police and the District Commissioner (DC) for Chitipa stopped a rally that was aimed at soliciting people's views about development projects in the district.

        The meeting, which was reportedly organised by Concerned Citizens of Chitipa, was among other things also supposed to tackle the controversial Karonga/Chitipa road.

        The project failed to start off in 2000 when a contract for an initial loan of US$17 million and US$15 million from the Taiwanese government was signed, with some quarters claiming the Bakili Muluzi administration diverted the money to another road.


        Chihana operated on

        by Edwin Nyirongo, 22 May 2006 - 06:32:31

        Alliance for Democracy (Aford) president Chakufwa Chihana, who is in South Africa receiving treatment, had a brain operation on Friday at Garden City Clinic, family and party officials confirmed on Sunday.

        Aford national chairman Chipimpha Mughogho said he was told by the family members that Chihana had a successful operation on Friday and was put in an intensive care unit.

        Mughogho said Chihana, who initially complained of headache, was found with a brain tumour which South African doctors removed.

        Mzimba West MP Loveness Gondwe said Aford boss condition was stable.

        "Hon. Chihana had a major operation and after that he was put in the intensive care unit but his condition is stable. I do not know where he was operated on but it had something to do with the skull," she said.

        Deputy Information Minister John Bande referred the matter to the Health Minister Hetherwick Ntaba who was reported to be in Geneva, Switzerland.

        Aford publicity secretary Norman Nyirenda said when Chihana's situation got worse, the family alerted the Office of the President and Cabinet who took him to Mwaiwathu Private Hospital.

        "The doctors at Mwaiwathu advised that he should be sent to South Africa and they even identified the doctor for him," he said.

        He said the costs are being met by the Malawi government, contradicting his earlier statement that his boss covered the cost.

        Mughogho is now in charge of the party.

        Gondwe will be a busy person when Parliament starts meeting on June 6 as she is the only Aford MP remaining.


        Pillane proposes presidential age limit

        by Emmanuel Muwamba , 22 May 2006 - 06:34:13

        A member of the DPP National Governing Council Abdul Pillane on Saturday urged members of political parties and the civil society to put an upper age limit in the Constitution for presidential candidates.

        Pillane was addressing members of political parties and civil society in Liwonde during a two-day follow up workshop to the National Conference on the Review of Constitution held in March in Lilongwe.

        "My view is that (an upper) age limit should be at 75. We have to give a chance to younger people to lead because in circumstance, when you age you become forgetful especially when sickly," said Pillane. "Overall, chances should be given to young people."

        But UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala, whose party members agitated for the age limit during presentations, played the issue down.

        "I feel there is no logic to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates. If someone is 90 or 80 I don't know how that can influence the electorate not to vote for someone who is younger, I don't see any logic behind that," said Makwangwala.

        MCP participants at the workshop also vehemently objected to the proposal.

        MCP vice president Nicholas Dausi in an interview said: "There is no constitution in Africa which stipulates an upper age limit. So it would be strange in Malawi to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates."

        MDP President Kamlepo Kalua also opposed the need to have an upper age limit.

        "If we have personalities in mind that we want to discriminate against then it is unfortunate. The constitution we want to build is a guiding document for future generations and it should not bar certain individuals on the basis of grudges," he said.

        The Malawi Law Constitution Issues Paper of March 2006 says several submissions that were received put an upper presidential age limit in the Constitution.

        "It is argued that it is common sense that mental knowledge faculties tend to fail with age. As regards what the actual age limit should be the submissions are far from being agreed. The range is from 60 years to 80 years," read submissions in the Issues Paper.

        On whether MPs should double as ministers, Kalua said this should be the case.

        Makwangwala also said it is not right for MPs to serve as ministers because the Legislature, another arm of government, is reduced while the Executive branch is beefed up from another arm of government.

        "There is no separation of powers when MPs double as ministers," said Makwangwala.

        But Pillane said there is no problem for MPs to work as ministers as well, saying MPs are elected by the President.

        "One can serve both posts. There have been no problems before for people to double," said Pillane.

        The Centre for Multiparty Democracy funded the workshop through the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.

        The objective was to come up with a collective position on the Issues Paper which will be presented to the Special Law Commission that will be constituted soon.


        Mussa hails new driving licence

        by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:58:52

        Transport and Public Works Minister Henry Mussa last week said the design of the Malawi-Sadc driving licence would guard against forgery and ensure that only skilled and legitimate drivers of particular vehicles are licensed.

        Mussa was speaking at the official launch of the licences in Lilongwe where he announced that traffic police would from July enforce speed limits and sober driving using Breathalysers which his ministry is in the process of procuring.

        The minister said financial constraints are the reason for the delay in procuring the equipment but assured that by July they would be available.

        "With the new equipment, the days of those who believe in the thrill of drink and driving are numbered," warned Mussa.

        Mussa added that with the new licence, government is optimistic that the country's roads would be safe.

        Acting Director of Road Traffic James Chirwa said the features that distinguish the new from the old licences are the Malawi national flag and a ghost image of the driver's photograph, among others.

        Those with old licences, according to Chirwa, are expected to get the new ones after the expiry of the former.


        UDF demands investigation on Kasambara

        by Rabecca Theu, 22 May 2006 - 06:30:46

        The United Democratic Front (UDF) has asked government to investigate Ralph Kasambara on allegations of abuse of office while he was attorney general.

        UDF publicity secretary Sam Mpasu told the press Sunday that the party is neither amused or saddened by the removal of the former AG but asked government to institute investigations on Kasambara.

        "Beyond the removal of the Attorney General, we now urge President Mutharika to institute investigation against Mr Kasambara into allegations that have made rounds in the public domain during the recent past. These include: Mrs Helen Singh and SS Rent-a-Car; SGS and ITS saga; ...........the use of Malawi Police Service in the arrest of three Chronicle journalists and the handling of Mrs Rubina Kawonga," said Mpasu.

        Mpasu also accused Kasambara of awarding government contracts to Lawson and Company where he was a senior partner.

        "We urge government to thoroughly investigate the former AG. We also ask government to cautiously select the new AG ," said Mpasu, who was accompanied by the party's Secretary General Kennedy Makwangwala, leader of the party in Parliament George Mtafu, chief whip Leonard Mangulama and a member of the executive Hophmally Makande.

        But Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati said UDF should give offer its advice to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB).

        "They should advise bodies like the Anti-Corruption Bureau to conduct the investigations and why are they saying this now? Is it because Kasambara has been fired? This is not a personal issue. If they have other pressing issues they should just say so. These arguments should have come up earlier on when the said cases were happening," she said.

        Kasambara asked UDF to proceed with the mission of urging government to investigate him.

        "They can do their job. Everyone has a right to lobby for anything they want in the country. UDF has a right to do that, let them go ahead," he said.

        Kasambara was relieved of his duties as AG by the President last week. Government has not given reasons behind the removal.


        Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land

        The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

        May 18, 2006

        Posted to the web May 19, 2006

        Andrew Lungu


        MALAWIANS who have encroached on both the 'no-man's' and part of the Zambian land at the Mwami border in Eastern Province have plucked out some beacons that were used in the demarcation of the border.

        The Malawians are now using the beacons as stools in their newly-established villages on Zambian land.

        Eastern Province Minister, Boniface Nkhata, said in Chipata yesterday that if the situation was not controlled urgently, Zambia would lose huge tracts of land to Malawians migrating into Zambian in large numbers.

        A check at the Zambia-Malawi border showed a number of beacons had been vandalised and new structures constructed on the 'no man's' land and a large portion of Zambian land.

        Mr Nkhata said the trend extended to many parts of the province bordering the two countries.

        "A large portion of Zambian land has been taken up by the Malawians starting from the Chama boundary up to the Mwami border.

        "The weighbridge at the Mwami border was initially in Zambia from the time both countries gained independence from Britain, but now the bridge is on Malawian soil," Mr Nkhata said.

        The minister, who is former Chama District Commissioner, said there was similar encroachment in Lundazi and Chama districts where Zambia shares a boundary with Malawi.

        He said a Malawian farmer identified as Mr Mfune had cultivated 71.5 hectares on Zambian land and employed about 265 Malawian workers.

        "Khombe Farm in Chama district in Kanyerere's area, along the Muyombe road which leads to Northern Province where this Malawian farmer has cultivated a vast land is on the Zambian territory," he said.

        Workers on the farm admitted that they were farming on Zambian soil but could not go back to Malawi because the land in that country was inadequate for cultivation.

        Mr Nkhata appealed to the ministry of Lands to urgently release money for the demarcation of the Zambia-Malawi border to avoid further land disputes between the two countries.

        Meanwhile, the Immigration Department in Livingstone has arrested a couple and another man, all Zimbabweans, for working in Zambia without permits.

        They were arrested at Gwembe village yesterday where they worked for Into Africa, a tour operating company that provides bush dinners and breakfast.

        According to the Immigration Department in Livingstone, the trio entered Zambia through the Victoria Falls border as visitors but decided to work for the company illegally.

        Last week, immigration officers arrested 10 Zimbabwean traders and six Ethiopians for entering and staying in Zambia illegally.

        The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.

        The Ethiopians were arrested at Konje Guest House when they ran out of money to proceed to Botswana.



        Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests

        Harare, Zimbabwe

        22 May 2006 11:51

        Zimbabwe's biggest labour federation on Saturday threatened to call massive demonstrations against the government over poor salaries and worsening living conditions for workers in the country.

        The threats are ratcheting up pressure against President Robert Mugabe's government after similar threats by the biggest opposition party in the country, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), about two months ago.

        Speaking at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) conference on Saturday, the labour body's president, Lovemore Matombo, said the powerful union wants the government to award workers salaries that match the country's ever-rising inflation.

        "I can assure you we will stage massive demonstrations to force them [employers] to award workers minimum salaries that tally with the poverty datum line," said Matombo.

        Matombo did not say when exactly the ZCTU would order workers to strike.

        Opposition protests

        Meanwhile, the MDC on Sunday said it will push ahead with plans for anti-government protests, saying victory in a key by-election at the weekend was a "sign the electorate supported its policies", including democratic mass resistance.

        A spokesperson of the main faction of the splintered MDC, Nelson Chamisa, said victory over Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF and a rival MDC faction in a Saturday by-election in Harare's Budiriro constituency is a sign Zimbabweans still have confidence in party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his policies.

        Tsvangirai, the founding leader of the MDC, heads the main rump of the opposition party whose candidate, Emmanuel Chisvuure, polled 7 949 votes to win the Budiriro House of Assembly seat.

        Gabriel Chaibva of the other faction of the MDC, led by prominent academic Arthur Mutambara, garnered 504 votes while Zanu-PF's Jeremiah Bvirindi polled 3 961 votes.

        "This election showed that the electorate still has confidence in the MDC [Tsvangirai-led] leadership and its policies," Chamisa told independent news service ZimOnline.

        He added: "We will now move to consolidate our position * we still believe in mass protests. Until we have attained our goals we see no reason why we should abandon [plans for protests]."

        Tsvangirai has threatened to call mass protests this winter against Mugabe and his government. He says the mass protests, whose date he is still to name, are meant to force Mugabe to relinquish power to a government of national unity to be tasked to write a new and democratic Constitution that would ensure free and fair elections held under international supervision.

        Mugabe and his government, who had hoped for victory in Budiriro to show they were recapturing urban support from a splintered MDC, have not taken idly the opposition's threats to call mass protests, with the veteran president warning Tsvangirai he would be "dicing with death" if he ever attempted to instigate a Ukraine-style popular revolt in Zimbabwe.


        In a fresh crackdown against dissension, the police last week arrested several church and civic leaders for organising public prayers and marches to mark last year's controversial home-demolition exercise by the government.

        The police also banned the marches and prayers, fearing they could easily turn into mass protests against Mugabe and his government.

        However, the marches went ahead in the second-largest city of Bulawayo after organisers had obtained a court order barring the police from stopping the march.

        Political analysts say although Zimbabweans have largely been cowed by Mugabe's tactics of routinely deploying riot police and the military to crush street protests, worsening hunger and poverty are fanning public anger that Tsvangirai -- with proper planning and organisation -- could easily manipulate.

        Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe six-year old economic crisis that has seen inflation breaching the 1 000% barrier. Last year, the World Bank said Zimbabwe's economic crisis was unprecedented for a country not at war.

        The MDC and major Western governments blame Mugabe for wrecking the country's economy, which was one of the strongest in Africa at independence from Britain 26 years ago.

        Mugabe denies the charge blaming the crisis on sabotage by Britain and her allies after he seized white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks six years ago.

        The Harare authorities recently hiked salaries for civil servants, with the lowest-paid soldier now earning about Z$27-million while the lowest-paid school teacher now takes home about Z$33-million.

        But the salaries are still way below the poverty datum line, which the government's Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says now stands at a staggering Z$42-million a month for an average family of six.

        The Zimbabwe government often accuses the ZCTU, a strong ally of the MDC, of pushing a political agenda to remove Mugabe from power.

        Meanwhile, Matombo and Lucia Matibenga retained their posts as president and first vice-president respectively during the ZCTU congress that ended on Saturday. -- ZimOnline

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