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  • Christine Chumbler
    EU 7m aid money still missing in Malawi Blantyre 27 November 2002 14:12 The Malawi government has yet to repay seven-million dollars to the European Union
    Message 1 of 1046 , Nov 27, 2002
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      EU 7m aid money still missing in Malawi
      Blantyre
      27 November
      2002 14:12

      The Malawi government has yet to repay seven-million
      dollars to the
      European Union after the funds, intended for the
      health budget, went
      missing last August, a news report said on
      Wednesday.

      The government failed to account for the money, part
      of a $52-million EU aid
      package under a three-year accord.

      The EU accuses Malawi of diverting the funds from
      their intended use in the
      health ministry budget. Wiepke van der Goot, head of
      the EU delegation in
      Malawi, told the Nation newspaper that the EU would
      not release $15-million
      remaining in the aid package until the issue is
      resolved.

      "That will be sad because Malawi needs the money
      now, especially with the
      hunger situation," Van der Goot said.

      The impoverished southern African is currently
      facing its worst food crisis,
      and needs 600 000 tons of maize, the staple food
      here, to stave off famine
      threatening up to 3,2-million people of a total
      population of 11-million.

      Van der Goot said an International Monetary Fund
      (IMF) mission that was in
      Malawi this month had advised the government to
      borrow money from the
      central bank to repay the seven million dollars. -
      Sapa-AFP

      *****

      Government Dismisses Charges of Food
      Politicisation

      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
      November 26, 2002
      Posted to the web November 26, 2002

      Johannesburg

      The Malawian government on Tuesday dismissed allegations that it was
      using emergency food aid to gain political leverage in the country's
      rural
      areas.

      Some 3.2 million Malawians face acute food shortages due to drought
      and
      what some observers call "government mismanagement".

      Presidential aide Willie Zingani told IRIN that recent reports
      suggesting the
      government had politicised food distribution was "unfounded" and the
      work
      of minor opposition parties "aiming to undermine the efforts to deal
      with an
      overwhelming challenge".

      "The distribution of food is not the sole responsibility of the
      government.
      Several parties including aid agencies, traditional chiefs and members
      of
      parliament are involved in registering potential beneficiaries. So to
      suggest
      that the government somehow has a stranglehold on who gets food and
      who doesn't is absurd," Zingani added.

      Last week the Pan African news agency (PANA) reported on accusations
      by opposition parties that the government had manipulated food
      distribution
      "to make it seem like it is coming from the [ruling] party".

      But Zingani refuted this, saying at no point had the government of
      President Bakili Muluzi inferred that the emergency food aid was
      coming
      from the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF).

      In a related development, the government has denied a report in the
      Chronicle newspaper on Tuesday that it would confiscate maize from
      NGOs suspected of using food aid to undermine the government.

      "I will not hesitate to snatch all the maize from those NGOs whom I
      feel are
      politicising the whole process," the newspaper quoted Muluzi as
      saying.

      Zingani said the president had received a complaint from an MP in
      Kafukule in the northern Mzimba district that some NGOs had failed to
      include government officials in the food distribution process.

      "The president welcomes the assistance of NGOs and implores all of
      them to work together with local chiefs and officials to make sure that
      the
      most vulnerable are fed. There are no plans to take food aid away from
      the
      NGOs," Zingani said.

      Meanwhile, CARE International said that it had not received any reports
      of
      people being denied food aid because of political affiliation.

      Programme Director Nicholas Osbourne told IRIN: "We are keeping an eye
      on reports in the media but we [CARE] have not received any reports of
      beneficiaries being turned away from feeding points. As far as
      possible
      CARE, like other NGOs, are working very closely with local community
      structures to ensure that the feeding process is fair and above
      board."

      *****

      Zambian minister fired
      over testimony

      By Penny Dale
      BBC, Lusaka

      Zambia's President Levy Mwanawasa has
      sacked his sports minister, replacing Levison
      Mumba with a woman who has also courted
      controversy.

      No reason has been given but the dismissal
      follows Mr Mumba's testimony last week
      against the president in a court case in which
      the opposition is asking the Supreme Court to
      nullify last December's election.

      Mr Mumba told the
      court that in
      November last year,
      when he was health
      minister, he authorised
      the use of a
      government vehicle for
      Mr Mwanawasa in his
      election campaign.

      The foundation for Mr
      Mumba's dismissal had
      been laid in the past
      few days: on Friday,
      Vice-President Enock
      Kavindele reportedly asked him to resign; on
      Sunday Mr Mwanawasa told a delegation of
      women ruling party activists demanding Mr
      Mumba's expulsion from the MMD that Mr
      Mumba had "disappointed" him and on Tuesday
      the deed was done.

      Mr Mumba was not available for comment. He
      is believed to be out of town, perhaps in his
      Petauke constituency in Eastern Province.

      Corruption

      This is not the first time Mr Mumba has been
      at the centre of controversy: his own election
      as MP is being challenged in the courts by the
      opposition, and during his short stay at the
      tourism ministry earlier this year, he was
      accused of corruption when he tried to issue
      safari concessions outside the tender process.

      The judge said that Mr
      Mumba's move was
      illegal and blocked the
      allocation.

      Despite Mr
      Mwanawasa's claims
      that he would fire any
      of his ministers as
      soon as there was
      even a whiff of
      corruption, Mr Mumba
      was merely moved
      sideways.

      He has been replaced at the sports ministry by
      Gladys Nyirongo, her reward, say political
      commentators, for defecting from the Heritage
      Party to the MMD during the crucial vote
      earlier in the year to elect the Speaker of the
      National Assembly.

      *****

      Zimbabwe boots AFP chief out of the
      country
      Harare

      27 November
      2002 09:37

      The Zimbabwe government on Tuesday refused to renew
      the work permit of
      the AFP bureau chief in Harare, who must now leave
      the country by the end
      of the week.

      AFP's chairman and chief executive officer Bertrand
      Eveno expressed the
      international news agency's "deep regret" at the
      decision in a letter to the
      Zimbabwe government.

      Stephane Barbier (43) who has been the bureau chief
      in the five-country
      regional office in Harare since July 2001, must
      leave by Saturday when his
      current work permit expires.

      Eveno said in the letter that AFP has maintained a
      regional office in
      Zimbabwe for 22 years "acting always in good faith
      and strict compliance
      with all laws and regulations of your country."

      "I am obliged to register Agence France-Presse's
      sincere disappointment in
      this matter," Eveno said.

      In September the Zimbabwe authorities refused to
      renew the work permit of
      Griffin Shea, a US national working for AFP.
      Barbier's initial one-year permit
      had been extended by six months in June this year.

      Information Minister Jonathan Moyo in July indicated
      to AFP that under the
      country's new press law, only Zimbabwean journalists
      would be allowed to
      work in the country.

      President Robert Mugabe enacted a law in March that
      imposed stringent
      limits on press freedoms for independent and foreign
      journalists working in
      the country.

      The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
      Act allows only
      permanent residents or Zimbabwean nationals to
      operate as journalists on a
      long-term basis. Foreign journalists may work only
      for an unspecified
      "limited period" or cover specific events.

      The Supreme Court is due to make a ruling in a
      lawsuit filed by Zimbabwean
      journalists challenging the constitutionality of the
      law.

      Subject to registration under the new law, AFP plans
      to keep its Harare
      office manned by Zimbabwean journalists but the
      regional office will move to
      Johannesburg, South Africa.

      The Harare bureau covers Angola, Malawi, Mozambique,
      Zambia and
      Zimbabwe. - Sapa-AFP
    • Christine Chumbler
      ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17 The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22, 2006
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        ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        Chihana operated on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Mughogho is now in charge of the party.

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

        *****

        Pillane proposes presidential age limit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        Mussa hails new driving licence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        UDF demands investigation on Kasambara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land

        The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

        May 18, 2006

        Posted to the web May 19, 2006

        Andrew Lungu

         

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.

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

         

        *****

        Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests

        Harare, Zimbabwe

        22 May 2006 11:51

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

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

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

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

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

        Opposition protests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Crackdown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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