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  • Christine Chumbler
    WFP Sending 30,000 Tonnes of Maize to Malawi The East African (Nairobi) October 28, 2002 Posted to the web October 29, 2002 J. Mwamunyange FACED WITH a food
    Message 1 of 1046 , Oct 30, 2002
      WFP Sending 30,000 Tonnes of Maize to Malawi

      The East African (Nairobi)
      October 28, 2002
      Posted to the web October 29, 2002

      J. Mwamunyange

      FACED WITH a food deficit of 200,000 tonnes, Malawi is set to receive
      30,000 tonnes of maize from the World Food Programme.

      The food will be transported from Dar es Salaam to Mbeya in the south
      rail, before being loaded onto trucks bound for Malawi.

      Malawi is among six Southern African countries hit by a devastating
      following a prolonged drought that resulted in a poor harvest. The
      countries are Mozambique, Lesotho, Angola, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

      Tanzania-Zambia Railway (Tazara) managing director Charles Phiri said
      last week in Dar es Salaam that the consignment would reach its
      destination in good time because of improvements in transportation.

      "We have already ferried about 4,790 tonnes of the yellow corn to
      from where they will be transported by road to Malawi," he said.

      The exercise commenced on October 19. He said the average time taken
      in getting the maize to Mbeya, some 850km away, was 48 hours. In order
      to complete the exercise in about 12 days, more than 400 wagons have
      been set aside.

      WFP logistics officer Lemma Jembere said that the UN agency needed
      more than 200,000 tonnes of cereals to meet the country's food
      requirements. The relief aid follows a $507 million appeal launched by
      agency to provide relief to the six countries.

      "We have to move 200,000 tonnes, which is part of the contribution
      the US. We expect more cargo to go through Dar, although other ports
      also being used to move relief food," said Mr Jembere. He added, "We
      work better and deliver the food in time if we get the same
      co-operation as
      Tazara has accorded us."

      The WFP official said that once the food arrived in Malawi, the WFP
      centres in Lilongwe, Blantyre, Mzuzu and Kasungu would distribute the
      maize worth $6 million. Mr Phiri said that Tazara, which has in the
      past been fighting stiff competition due to liberalisation, was also
      transporting bitumen for road construction in Mbeya region.

      "China Roads and Bridges Corporation has requested us to transport
      some 5,400 tonnes of bitumen, 4,272 tonnes of which has already been
      loaded on 113 wagons," he said. He said that the remaining 1,128
      would be transported on 23 wagons.

      Asked whether they would also transport maize to Zambia, where more
      than two million people face starvation, Mr Phiri said that Tazara had
      already transported some 40,000 tonnes of maize imported from Uganda
      to Zambia.

      "In spite of the fact that the maize had to be transhipped through
      Yard, the average time for transporting the maize to Zambia was four
      days," said Mr Phiri.

      Zambia is the only Southern African country facing famine to have
      genetically modified maize donated by the US government.


      Food Security Agricultural Schemes Introduced

      Malawi Insider (Blantyre)
      October 26, 2002
      Posted to the web October 28, 2002

      By By Staff Writer
      Blantyre, Malawi

      Crop diversification, irrigation and the expansion of a free farm
      scheme for subsistence producers are among the measures being
      introduced by the government to boost food output next year.

      "We have embarked on a civic education campaign to teach our people to
      diversify their eating habits and move away from a total dependence on
      maize to tubers for example, and other foods like rice," says
      minister Aleke Banda

      He said the government was using social welfare workers in rural
      communities to spread the word on the value of drought-resistant crops
      like cassava over the staple maize, which is sensitive to climatic

      Most of Malawi's rice, produced along the shores of Lake Malawi, is
      exported to Zambia and Zimbabwe rather than consumed locally. Cassava
      is traditionally eaten in the Northern Region, but has not been
      marketed in the rest of the country.

      Food security in Malawi has been undermined by two poor
      seasons, which have left more than 3.3 million in need of aid until
      year's harvest in April/May.

      Although Malawi has an irrigation potential of 800,000 hectares, only
      56,000 hectares have been developed, and of those just 8,000 are in
      hands of small-scale producers as opposed to commercial estate owners.
      "The problem is the poverty factor, our people cannot raise the capital
      irrigation," said Banda. "But unless we do something about improving
      irrigation we will not get out of the problem of low food yields."

      To that end the government has joined the UN's Food and Agriculture
      Organisation in a project to provide 200,000 treadle pumps to poor
      families. "It will cost US$240 million to address the current food

      To buy 200,000 treadle pumps requires only US $80 million. It's a
      investment to make," Banda said.

      The government had introduced a free agricultural "starter pack"
      in 1998/1999 for rural households, which was scaled down under donor
      pressure to more effectively target the poorest farmers. In response to
      current food crisis, the government intends to pay for the expansion of
      programme to reach an extra one million farm families from the current
      donor-funded two million.

      The starter packs contain fertiliser, maize seed and beans to cover a
      modest 0.1 hectares. But according to Banda, the expansion of the
      programme would allow Malawi to hit a production level of 2.3 million
      metric tonnes of maize, which it last achieved in 1999/2000.

      Domestic food consumption needs are 1.8 million metric tonnes.

      "We have to run the starter packs for three years to allow people to
      recover from the impact of the famine following two successive bad

      People need to build up surpluses to earn enough money to pay for
      own inputs. We certainly do not wish to continue endlessly with it,"
      explained Banda.


      Opposition Spokesperson Reverts to Old Position

      Malawi Insider (Blantyre)
      October 26, 2002
      Posted to the web October 28, 2002

      By Staff Reporter
      Blantyre, Malawi

      Lilongwe Bunda MP Beanton Kutsaira of the opposition Malawi Congress
      Party (MCP) has reverted to his old position as regional secretary for
      centre, relinguishing his new post of publicity secretary saying he did
      want to put himself on collision course with the High Court.

      In an interview, Kutsaira said he was no longer publicity secretary of
      party following a High Court ruling nullifying the Lilongwe Convention
      by the Tembo camp, which elected him as the party's president
      the incumbent Gwanda Chakuamba.

      "The Party Publicity Secretary is Nicholas Dausi. I am the regional
      secretary for the centre. Don't ask me why, it is the High Court which
      ruled," he said.

      He was referring to a ruling by the High Court a fortnight ago which
      convicted Tembo and fined him K200,000 or face a year in jail for
      contempt of court after he held the convention despite a court
      stopping it.

      The party's secretary general Kate Kainja and Nkhotakota District
      Chairman Kamphanje Banda were also slapped with the K200,000 fine or
      one year jail term on the same charges.

      The three have since paid the fine.

      Kutsaira said he had to respect court orders just like any other


      Donors Fuel Political Feud

      Malawi Insider (Blantyre)
      October 26, 2002
      Posted to the web October 28, 2002

      By Brian Ligomeka & Paul Kang'ombe
      Blantyre, Malawi

      The Malawi Standard has unearthed serious revelations that the
      Norwegian Church Aid is funding the Forum for the Defence of the
      Constitution (FDC) indirectly through the Public Affairs Committee
      to foreign mission protocol of not interfering in internal political
      affairs of a
      host country as Paul Kang'ombe writes:

      Investigations show that some donor agencies and foreign missions are
      vigorously funding the crusade activities of the Forum for the Defence
      the Constitution (FDC), the Public Affairs Committee (PAC), the Malawi
      Council of Churches (MCC), the Centre for Human Rights and Research,
      the Association of Christian Educators in Malawi, the Christian
      Committee (CSC), and the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace
      (CCJP) to fight against the proposed Constitutional amendment to allow
      the country's presidents have three consecutive - five year term of

      The Norwegian Church Aid, which is just three months old in Malawi is
      receiving funding from the Norwegian government, some Nordic countries
      and private members to fund a programme disguised as Community
      Safety Empowerment. It claims that its objective is to look into
      trafficking of
      small arms and violence of all forms. However, this is mere
      The truth is that the programme is aimed at destabilizing the peace
      stability in the country by fanning conflict through campaigning
      against the
      Third Term Bill.

      Among other activities, the Norwegian Church Aid funds the NGOs to
      publish anti-Third Term posters and press releases, which are
      in The Nation News and The Daily Times at the cost of about K30,000
      full black page advert and they run for a week. The same organisation
      also said to have funded the two Njamba inter-denominational prayers
      where the clergy denounced the Constitutional amendment on the Third
      Term Bill. In addition, the Norwegian Church Aid monitors and pays
      administration costs for the Forum for the Defence of the

      This includes paying bills at the Grace Bandawe Conference Centre in
      Blantyre where the Forum regularly holds its meetings.

      Sources at PAC also revealed that the Norwegian Church Aid is
      the Public Affairs Committee in its anti-Third Term crusade disguised
      efforts of ensuring good governance and observance of human rights.

      "The Church approved our funding on condition that we speak against
      presidential term extension," the PAC official said.

      The Norwergian Church Aid in collaboration with other partners have
      conditions for the disbursement of the aid that include the unification
      of all
      opposition political parties in the run up to the 2004 elections.

      PAC has been charged with the responsibility to chair the formation of
      common front for all opposition political parties through FDC.

      Public Affairs Committee Chairman, Reverend Constantine Kaswaya,
      disclosed recently in an interview that they had identified new donors,
      Norwegian Church Aid, as new donors for their 'Community
      Empowerment programme' to replace the Danish Church Aid who pulled
      out last year.

      Harold Williams, FDC spokesperson disclosed that PAC as chairman of
      FDC is working on modalities to facilitate the formation of a common
      for all member political organizations similar to that of Rainbow
      Alliance of
      Kenya to defeat the UDF in the 2004 polls.

      Commenting on the donations, NCA projects officer, Shenard Mazengera,
      said the organization facilitates the funding of various programmes
      out by a number of NGOs.

      He however said his organization does not directly fund human rights
      good governance programmes as claimed by some people.

      "NCA funds the following NGOs: PAC, MCC, CHRR and ACEM in
      Community Safety Empowerment programmes where human rights and
      good governance are a component of the whole programme," he

      He said Community Safety Empowerment is a programme that looks on
      issues like small arms trafficking and violence.

      Norwegian Church Aid is financed by the Norwegian Government and
      private members' contribution. The Church is an affiliate of the World
      Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation.

      In a similar development the United States Aid for International
      Development (USAID) is also said to be funding the Livingstonia Synod
      its campaigns against the amendment of section 83 (3).

      The Livingstonia Synod has been conducting meetings and issuing
      pastoral letters in the Northern Region against the Third Term using

      USAID Mission Director to Malawi Roger Yochelson, distanced his
      organization from the allegations.

      Yochelson complained recently at a news conference in Blantyre that
      contrary to their Aid policy money meant for various social and health
      programmes such as reproductive health and HIV/AIDS prevention are
      diverted and instead used for anti-Third Term campaigns. He blamed
      some individuals in the Livingstonia CCAP Church of having personal
      interests in politics at the expense of the USAID.

      Yochelson said the Synod never asked for funding for anti-Third Term
      campaigns. He said his organisation does not meddle in internal
      saying citizens decide on their own on matters concerning politics.

      "We have had a series of discussions with government, assuring it that
      USAID is here to assist in the development of this country and not
      politics. I
      can assure you that our relationship with government is good," he

      He noted that some church leaders from the Livingstonia Synod conduct
      development meetings in the afternoon with funding from USAID as per
      agreement and wondered why the very same people were diverting the
      funds for anti-Third Term campaigns during the night.

      Yochelson told non-governmental organisations that benefit from USAID
      the country to strictly use the money for development work only and not

      "We have had meetings with the Synod and advised them to stop using
      our funds for a different mission rather than the intended purpose,"

      Livingstonia Synod officials could not be reached for comment.

      However, sources within the diplomatic community have confirmed that
      the American Embassy may be supporting the anti-Third Term crusade
      indirectly through USAID.

      Among some foreign missions' dignitaries that are said to be funding
      anti-Third Term are the British High Commission's Michael Nevin and
      South African Embassy First Secretary for politics Elias Mokoena.

      Nevin is said to have bought a return air ticket for the National
      Alliance (NDA) leader Brown Mpinganjira to Europe recently.

      Mokoena is also reported to be interfering in the internal political
      affairs of
      Malawi by giving moral and financial support to the opposition through
      organization called Pan African Civic Educators Network (Pace-Net).

      Pace-Net is also receiving aid from an undisclosed Canadian based NGO
      that deals in human rights and good governance. Rainb

      The organization is reported to have promised Pace-Net large sums of
      money in the run up to 2004 elections to publish fliers in English,
      Chichewa, Tumbuka, Sena, Nkhonde and Yao.

      A source in Lilongwe disclosed that a task force comprising
      was identified to work on the programme.

      The Fliers, according to the source will be produced twice a week and
      distributed free in all the three regions of the country. "All the
      promoted by the foreign agencies in the name of development support
      through NGOs are misusing the taxpayers' money of their respective

      They should work to help Malawi develop and preserve the peace and
      stability we are enjoying while appreciating that we have the right to
      our own democratic choices without foreigners interfering in our
      affairs," remarked one businessman resident in Lilongwe.

      "NGOs and churches are not supposed to be responsible for political
      turbulence. Their challenge is how to assist the government in
      AIDS, hunger, illiteracy, and how to provide poor people with clean
      and so on. Foreign covert activities and operations will not help us at
      all. All
      we need and ask of them to practice in our country is clean direct
      diplomacy," said some concerned women.

      Donor interference in Malawi politics

      Although donors out of their own interest are covertly meddling in the
      political affairs of Malawi by encouraging opposition parties to unite
      form a common front against the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF),
      confusion, divisions and the politics of mudslinging within the ranks
      of the
      opposition prevail because donors and churches have different

      Donor agencies especially those from United Kingdom, Japan, and Nordic
      countries would like to see Mpinganjira as the next President. The
      for wishing to have Mpinganjira irrespective of his bad record is

      They would like to use him as a puppet for destabilizing Southern
      countries that believe in the ideals of Pan Africanism.

      After failing to use President Bakili Muluzi, President Joachim
      Chissano of
      Mozambique and the South African leader Thabo Mbeki to assist in
      Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, one school of donors believes that
      Mpinganjira, who maintains a close political relationship with Morgan
      Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in
      Zimbabwe, would be the right puppet to execute their colonialistic and
      undemocratic ambition.

      After using Mpinganjira (in the doubtful event that he wins the
      elections in
      2004), they would also set him to serve their interests by serving as
      puppet in meddling with the political affairs of Uganda.

      The NDA- FDC Connection

      The donors were very uneasy when they heard that NDA would be banned.
      They therefore made several manoeuvres and urged Mpinagnjira's friends
      in the church - Reverend Daniel Gunya and others to form the Forum for
      the Defence of the Constitution (FDC) as an alternative to NDA in the
      that it was banned. The FDC was therefore formed as a pressure group
      with the purpose that if the NDA is banned it should carry on with the
      activities of the National Democratic Alliance. For instance,
      that donors should freeze aid to Malawi in the name of human rights
      abuse. This also explains why the type of grouping that is in NDA is
      to the one that supports FDC.


      Southern Africa Bemoans Fall of Dollar

      Malawi Insider (Blantyre)
      October 26, 2002
      Posted to the web October 28, 2002

      By By Hobbs Gama
      Blantyre, Malawi

      THE ongoing political and economic crisis facing Zimbabwe once the
      favoured investment destination after South Africa has not only
      affected the
      living standards among its citizens but cross-border trade as well.

      Acute shortage of foreign currency, notably the US dollar has seen
      companies collapsing while trading activities with neighbouring
      was hampered by the currency crisis.

      In the wake of the controversial land reform programme being pursued
      President Robert Mugabe and the withholding of funding, coupled with
      severed international relations, Zimbabwe's economy nose-dived while
      foreign direct investment dwindled.

      Malawi, a close trading partner was among the first to feel the pinch.

      Malawi and Zimbabwe reviewed their bilateral trade pact signed in 1986
      2000 after the former complained of trade imbalance.

      Trade was heavily tilted in favour of Zimbabwe: In 1999 for example,
      Zimbabwe exported to Malawi goods worth K3.9 billion while Malawi only
      exported K409 million worth of goods prompting Malawi to call for a
      agreement change.

      As a matter of harmonised relations the two have gone a step further
      planning to start using their respective currencies in carrying out
      trading activities so that they do away with the US dollar once the
      trusted currency.

      Zimbabwe's minister of Industry and International Trade, Samuel
      Mumbengwegi, confirmed that the system to be introduced before the end
      of the year aims at using the Malawi Kwacha and the Zimbabwe dollar in
      conducting payment transactions and all trading.

      "We are looking at the possibility of using each other's currency. It
      not make sense to use the US dollar when we have our own currencies at
      our disposal," says Mumbengwegi adding that his government had
      reached the decision following bilateral talks between parties from the
      trading partners.

      Geoffrey Mkandawire, director of Commerce in the Ministry of Commerce
      and Trade confirmed of the move revealing that the economic crisis
      Zimbabwe prompted the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) to sell the idea to
      its counterpart Zimbabwe Central Bank.

      "Quite a lot of businesses in Malawi have died because they were
      problems getting payments for their goods exported to Zimbabwe," say
      reports. The foreign currency crisis has also crippled many companies
      foreign debts in Zimbabwe since 2000 forcing Malawian exporters seek
      official intervention.

      As at February last year, Zimbabwean firms owed Malawian exporters
      about U$455,000.

      Another problem facing the US dollar is the thriving black market with
      resultant action by authorities in the Southern African countries of
      Zimbabwe and Malawi to check the illegal transaction of the dollar.

      The Malawi government, which suspended foreign imports since
      September 2001 to protect the local manufacturing industry, which was
      by over-flooded cheap products from the stronger economies of South
      Africa and Zimbabwe, is currently faced with the growing abuse of

      Malawian traders armed with the US dollar take advantage of the
      depreciated Zimbabwe dollar defeating government's efforts to boost

      The traders buy in Zimbabwe such products as cooking oil, dairy and
      poultry products after getting the local currency. On the attractive
      market: the US dollar trades at 350 Zimbabwe dollars on the illegal
      while it sells at 80 Malawi Kwacha.

      Malawi's commerce minister, Peter Kaleso has since promised the local
      business chiefs of a system to be put in place to protect the local

      "All these are problems we encounter because of Zimbabwe's economic

      For that we need to institute measures to protect our infant industry
      as well
      as currency," asserted Kaleso.

      The Zambian government too is cracking on traders doing business in US
      dollars warning businessmen they could face stern fine or jail as it
      to shore up its currency, the Zambian Kwacha now at a 20 percent

      Illegal shopkeepers and other business people are accepting the dollar
      their trading flouting the law, which authorises recognised commercial
      banks to transact in the US dollar.

      Eugene Appel, Zambia's deputy minister of commerce warned recently
      that government has instituted a crackdown on the businesses waving
      aside claims by the traders who attribute to the troubled state of the
      currency to excessive government spending and high inflation, which
      made the local currency unreliable with its devaluations.

      Indeed these are hard times for trading activities for Southern
      countries, and of course the US dollar which until recently was the
      benchmark international currency. International investors have lost
      confidence in the strength of the American economy and are now looking
      elsewhere for safer havens.

      The US dollars apart from the 11 September 2001 attacks is weighed
      down by a combination of factors, which include investors' concerns
      the vigour of the US economic recovery, eroding confidence in
      America, equity meltdown caused by depressed outlook for corporate
      earnings, an unsuitable trade deficit and deteriorating fiscal

      Recently the IMF warned that America's bloated current account
      projected at between U$460-500 billion this year or 5 percent gross
      domestic product was one of the "significant risks' facing the world

      As a rule when a country's external deficit hits 5 percent of GDP its
      currency tends to weaken.

      The US therefore needs to attract U$ 1.7 billion in overseas funds
      working day in order to protect its currency from further downfall.


      Criticism of Zambia's GM

      Some 14 million are at risk of famine across the region
      A Zambian opposition party has criticised the
      government's decision to reject a donation of
      genetically-modified food aid for nearly three
      million of its people facing famine.

      A leader of the UPND opposition party,
      Saqwibo Sikota, told the BBC's Network Africa
      that there was no scientific evidence that
      such food was harmful for consumers.

      "We have a lot of GMO foods already coming
      into Zambia and it seems a bit hypocritical to
      say we can't have the GMO maize" he said.

      He said Zambia, like other countries in the
      region, could have asked for the maize to be
      milled beforehand, so that it could only be
      eaten and not planted.

      The Zambian Government announced on
      Tuesday that it would stick by its decision to
      reject the aid, following recommendations by a
      team of scientists that were despatched
      around the world to study the potential effects
      of importing GM crops.

      The food aid was initially offered by the
      international community to Zambia and five
      other Southern African countries, but President
      Levy Mwanawasa referred to the food as

      "In view of the current scientific uncertainty
      surrounding the issue... government has
      decided to base its decision not to accept GM
      foods in Zambia on the precautionary
      principle," Agriculture Minister Mundia Sikatana

      "The country should thus refrain from actions
      that might adversely affect human and animal
      health as well as harm the environment," he

      The BBC's reporter in Lusaka, Penny Dale, says
      the government's controversial decision has
      sparked a huge political row in Zambia.


      World Food Programme Spokesman Richard Lee
      told the BBC that it would now be very difficult
      to meet the needs of the Zambian people.

      He said his
      organisation was
      already only able to
      feed half of the people
      in need, and would
      have to work hard to
      find non-GM food.

      The government would
      now ask the WFP to
      withdraw thousands of
      tonnes of US-donated
      grain that are in the
      country, Mr Sikatana

      The US has supplied most food aid for the
      WFP's appeal for Southern Africa, where about
      14 million people risk starvation.

      Zambia needs 21,000 tonnes of food aid a
      month to feed more than 2.5 million people in
      the drought-hit south of the country.


      Zimbabwe reinstates half of sacked
      28 October
      2002 10:53

      The Zimbabwe government has reinstated more than
      half the 627 teachers it
      dismissed two weeks ago for taking part in a strike,
      a newspaper reported
      on Monday.

      Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere told the
      state-controlled Herald that
      less than 300 teachers had been charged for
      supporting a strike called by
      the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ)
      for better pay and
      dubbed illegal by the government.

      Zimbabwe's teachers are the lowest paid in the
      region. A high school
      teacher takes home 20 000 Zimbabwe dollars ($364) a
      month. The PTUZ
      demanded a 100% salary increase backdated to January
      and a 100% cost
      of living adjustment backdated to June.

      Salary increases for teachers are expected to be
      reflected in the national
      budget due next month, Chigwedere added. Raymond
      Majongwe, the
      secretary general of the PTUZ dismissed Chigwedere's
      comments as
      "public relations" and said the government was
      "hoodwinking the nation".

      He said that "over 400 teachers have been served
      with letters of suspension"
      and that classes in some schools had been severely

      The suspension letters were intended to "intimidate
      the teachers into
      submission", Majongwe added. - Sapa-AFP


      Trade organisation slams child labour in
      25 October
      2002 12:56

      An international trade organisation on Friday
      condemned the serious and
      widespread use of child labour and the worsening
      workers' basic rights in

      Children were still toiling in even the worst forms
      of child labour such as
      small scale mining operations, agriculture and stone
      crushing, the
      International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
      (ICFTU) said in a report released in Brussels.

      This was in contravention of two core conventions of
      the International Labour
      Organisation on child labour.

      "With children working in dangerous occupations
      including portering, street
      begging and domestic labour, child labour is a
      widespread problem in
      Zambia," the report said.

      The document was released to coincide with the World
      Trade Organisation
      (WTO) review of Zambia's trade policy. The WTO
      review was produced on
      October 23 to 25.

      The ICFTU represent 157-million workers in 225
      affiliated organisations in
      148 countries around the world. The ICFTU is also a
      member of Global

      The ICFTU report stated that there were reports of
      forced prostitution in
      Zambia, particularly of children. And women and
      children trafficking was rife,
      it said.

      "Many officials of municipal workers' trade unions
      have been dismissed for
      union activities.

      "Although the right to collective bargaining is
      recognised in law, and
      collective bargaining is relatively widespread in
      practice, a deteriorating
      situation as regards violation of basic workers'
      rights in the private sector,
      including by multinationals present in the country
      is also reported."

      The report said women were severely disadvantaged in
      both employment
      and education in Zambia, including in terms of lower
      remuneration and
      inferior conditions of employment for working

      "Without concerted efforts on behalf of the Zambian
      government to respect
      the eight core labour standards to which they have
      repeatedly agreed and
      with the scourge of Aids looming large, improvement
      for the beleaguered
      population looks distinctly far off," report said. -
    • 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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