Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.


Expand Messages
  • Christine Chumbler
    Political bullying undermines democracy in Malawi Raphael Tenthani | Blantyre 08 November 2002 14:25 Widespread hunger, poverty, political intolerance, crime,
    Message 1 of 1046 , Nov 8, 2002
    • 0 Attachment
      Political bullying undermines democracy in
      Raphael Tenthani | Blantyre
      08 November
      2002 14:25

      Widespread hunger, poverty, political intolerance,
      crime, and human rights
      abuses are a major threat to democracy in Malawi,
      according to a report
      issued on Friday by the country's human rights

      The impoverished southern African nation has been
      rife with corruption
      scandals and accusations that President Bakili
      Muluzi was working to
      suppress criticism and undermine opposition

      The new report, by the quasi-independent Malawi
      Human Rights
      Commission, said that political bullying was
      undermining the nation's
      fledgling democracy.

      "The challenges facing our young democracy are
      formidable," read the
      report. "Malawians live in abject poverty and
      hunger. Democracy is
      incompatible with poverty, hunger, violence, and
      intolerance of
      any form."

      According to the report, state institutions that
      investigate corruption and
      human rights abuses were vastly underfunded.

      The report also accuses Muluzi, his Cabinet and
      Parliament of interfering
      with the judiciary. It cites incidents in which
      judges were intimidated and
      their rulings disregarded by the president and

      Journalists and newspapers also were harassed for
      criticising the
      government, the report said.

      The government has dismissed the commission's
      findings, describing them
      as allegations that lack substance. "This is purely
      speculation," an
      Information Ministry official said on condition of

      The report was based on input from state officials,
      civil society organisations
      and government departments. - Sapa-AP


      IMF Blamed for Malawi Famine

      World Development Movement (London)
      October 29, 2002
      Posted to the web November 7, 2002


      The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank forced policies
      the Government of Malawi that were responsible for turning a food
      shortage into a famine, concludes a report released today by the World
      Development Movement (WDM). Seventy per cent of rural families faced
      starvation earlier this year, following floods in 2001.

      Malawi is experiencing a massive hunger crisis, the worst since the
      dreadful 1949 famine. It has a huge HIV/AIDS problem - one fifth of
      population are HIV+. One third of the population are undernourished
      well over half live on less than $1a day. One in three are illiterate.
      Malawi is
      an agricultural economy. Tobacco is its main export and maize is the
      staple food. IMF policies have also caused massive grain hoarding and
      speculation by private traders.

      The report details a catalogue of disastrous IMF enforced policies
      have undermined Malawi's ability to feed its people. It blames the
      privatisation of the food production and distribution system (notably
      Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation - ADMARC), removal
      of agricultural subsides to small farmers and deregulation of price
      on staple foods such as maize - policies that have enabled Malawi to
      famine in the past. The price of maize increased 400% between October
      2001and March 2002 as a result of these policies.

      The House of Commons International Development Committee, which last
      week returned from a fact-finding visit to Malawi, today hold their
      evidence hearing into the famine.

      Entitled 'Structural Damage: The Causes and Consequences of Malawi's
      Food Crisis', the report also reveals evidence that the IMF, World Bank
      EU were heavily involved in the disastrous decision to sell-off
      grain reserves at the height of the famine, something they have

      Early in 2002 the Malawi Government sold almost all of its 167,000
      tonne grain reserve following advice from the IMF to reduce costs and
      stock levels to pay off a $300m loan from a South African Bank.
      Subsequently, in April 2002, Malawi was suspended from the Heavily
      Indebted Poor Countries Initiative over allegations of corruption
      around the

      The authors also condemn international lenders for insisting that the
      heavily indebted Government of Malawi continues to make debt
      repayments to rich countries and the IMF and World Bank, despite the
      humanitarian crisis. Malawi will spend $70m, over 20% of its national
      budget, on debt repayments in 2002 - money desperately needed for
      health and education. The report calls for full cancellation of
      Malawi's debt
      and an end to the economic conditionality of aid donors and the IMF
      World Bank.

      Director of the WDM, Barry Coates today condemned the IMF and World
      Bank for applying a one-size-fits-all, ultra free-market approach:
      "This is
      Jurassic economics, the policies of the Reagan and Thatcher era. They
      should be kept in a museum, rather than trampling all over desperately
      poor African countries." Pointing out that Gordon Brown is the chair of
      IMF and Clare Short sits on the governing body of the World Bank. Mr
      Coates continued: "The UK bears particular responsibility because of
      influence over these institutions."


      Zimbabwe 'running out
      of bank notes'

      Zimbabwe's economic crisis has created
      crippling shortages, and now even bank notes
      are proving hard to come by.

      The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has said it will
      step up monitoring of all but the smallest cash
      transactions, in the hope of stopping bank
      notes disappearing from circulation.

      Growing demand for large volumes of cash -
      used, officials say, for untraceable
      money-laundering operations - has reportedly
      left big bank notes in short supply.

      The Bank has set up a Financial Intelligence
      Unit to track suspicious cash transactions, and
      may push forward plans to introduce a new
      1,000-Zimbabwe-dollar note, twice the size of
      its current biggest denomination.

      Economic spiral

      The Bank's taskforce will look at all
      transactions in excess of 500,000 Zimbabwe

      At official exchange rates, that is over
      US$9,000 (£5,700), but on the black market,
      the Zimbabwe dollar is trading at around 1,800
      in the US currency - and falling fast.

      Inflation is rampant in Zimbabwe: it hit an
      annual 140% at the last count, which means
      many Zimbabweans have to deal in ever larger
      quantities of cash.

      The weak Zimbabwe dollar has left the country
      short of vital imported goods, which in turn has
      pushed prices up still further.

      At the same time, the authorities also allege
      rampant money laundering, as rich individuals
      attempt to spirit their liquid assets out of the


      Tony Blair banned from

      They are no longer on speaking terms
      The government of Zimbabwe has announced
      that all British visitors to the country will need
      visas from now on.

      It also says it has imposed a travel ban on
      British Prime Minister Tony Blair, his ministers
      and senior British Government officials.

      The moves appear to be in
      retaliation for a British
      decision that visitors from
      Zimbabwe would have to
      apply for visas to enter the
      Britain, unless they already
      have right of abode.

      On Thursday, the
      European Union accused
      President Robert
      Mugabe's government of
      channelling food aid to
      its own supporters and
      ignoring opposition
      activists, as millions
      face starvation.

      Speaking about reports that foreign food aid
      was being diverted a Danish minister said that
      such behaviour was unacceptable.

      Last weekend, a United States official warned
      that the US may have to take "intrusive"
      measures to ensure that food aid was properly

      Zimbabwe has denied the allegations and
      accused the US of preparing to invade.

      Meanwhile, the treason trial of Zimbabwe
      opposition rival Morgan Tsvangirai has been
      postponed until February.

      Retaliatory move?

      The new visa restrictions for Britons, which
      come into effect on Friday, were announced
      on the state radio station, Zimbabwe
      Broadcasting Corporation.

      The broadcast also
      outlined the ban on
      members of the British
      Government saying:

      "The Zimbabwe
      Government has
      imposed a travel ban
      on British Prime
      Minister Tony Blair, his
      cabinet, junior
      ministers and heads of
      his government
      departments as part of
      its efforts to
      safeguard the country's sovereignty."

      Earlier this year, the EU imposed a travel ban
      on Mr Mugabe and other members of the
      country's ruling elite following disputed

      Asylum claims

      On Thursday, Britain announced that
      Zimbabweans planning to travel to London
      must now have a visa.

      Britain's Home Secretary David Blunkett said
      the change had been made to stop what was
      a "very significant abuse of our immigration
      controls by Zimbabwean nationals".

      In the wake of recent economic and political
      troubles, Zimbabweans have flocked to Britain.

      Increasing numbers of Zimbabweans were
      making "unfounded asylum claims" in Britain, Mr
      Blunkett said.

      Zimbabwe's Information Minister Jonathan
      Moyo told the BBC's Network Africa programme
      that this proved that Britain had been
      exaggerating reports of the situation in

      Trial delayed

      Lawyers acting for Mr Tsvangirai, the leader of
      the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
      said they had applied for more time to prepare
      their defence, after state lawyers failed to
      hand over crucial documents in time.

      Mr Tsvangirai, along
      with two other senior
      MDC officials, have
      been accused of
      plotting to assassinate
      Mr Mugabe - a charge
      they deny.

      All three are unable to
      travel abroad - having
      been surrendered their
      passports as part of
      their bail conditions.

      The opposition accuse
      Mr Mugabe of
      mismanaging the country to the point where
      millions are facing severe food shortages.
    • Christine Chumbler
      ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17 The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22, 2006
      • 0 Attachment

        ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


        Chihana operated on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Mughogho is now in charge of the party.

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


        Pillane proposes presidential age limit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


        Mussa hails new driving licence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


        UDF demands investigation on Kasambara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


        Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land

        The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

        May 18, 2006

        Posted to the web May 19, 2006

        Andrew Lungu


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.

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



        Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests

        Harare, Zimbabwe

        22 May 2006 11:51

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

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

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

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

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

        Opposition protests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


        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

      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.