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  • Christine Chumbler
    Donor Aid Tied to Good Governance The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe) January 7, 2003 Posted to the web January 7, 2003 Mallick Mnela Lilongwe Political and
    Message 1 of 1046 , Jan 8, 2003
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      Donor Aid Tied to Good Governance

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
      January 7, 2003
      Posted to the web January 7, 2003

      Mallick Mnela
      Lilongwe

      Political and Economic analysts have warned that unless the United
      Democratic Front (UDF) proved to the donor community and civil society
      that government was serious about improving on it's ills, the hope of
      normalising relations between the development community and the state
      will continue to remain an unattainable dream.

      The warning comes amid calls from human rights and civil society
      advocates urging the government to bring the financial hiccups to
      normal
      by increasing or at least attracting donor funding inflows, This, they
      said
      can only be done by apologising to the nation and to our partners for
      the
      poor accountability, especially Denmark who pulled out of Malawi in
      July
      last year. The intransigence of the Malawi government to reform has led
      to
      other key donors withholding funding.

      More than 2/3rds of political analysts interviewed agreed that the
      UDF's
      desire to retain power at all costs was another position of contention.
      They
      feared that if passed, the third term bid for President Muluzi is
      likely to
      inflict grave damage on the country's fragile economy saying it will
      only
      mirror and highlight the governments' continued abuse of parliament
      and
      democracy in particular.

      Executive Director of Civil Liberties Committee (CILIC) Emmie Chanika
      took a swipe at the government, quizzing if it has addressed the
      shortfalls
      identified by the donor community.

      'I am sure Denmark will wait until the third term issue is resolved
      before
      reacting because they know the UDF will continue breaching the
      principles
      of democracy,' said Chanika.

      She advised politicians to avoid making what she described as
      *obscene,
      un-intellectual vibes'.

      Constitutional lawyer and law lecturer at Chancellor College (CHANCO)
      Fidelis Edge Kanyongolo in an interview with The Chronicle said should
      the
      UDF force the third term bill through, the donors will not be easily
      convinced.

      'The Bill will reflect badly on our commitment to democracy and we
      should
      not expect to be assisted because we will have betrayed the ideals of
      democracy,' said Kanyongolo, adding, 'nobody can be cheated that
      people
      have been consulted to allow such a major amendment of the
      constitution.'
      Another political analyst based in Lilongwe said: 'The UDF should
      change
      it's mode of running the affairs of the country, righting the wrongs
      that have
      been pointed out by those who assist Malawi financially. Otherwise it
      will
      be an exercise akin to squeezing water from a stone to convince them
      to
      resume assisting us.

      'I personally feel that when donors say the ruling party should
      exercise
      fiscal discipline, stamp out corruption and uphold democratic
      principles
      they are doing Malawi a favour rather than whipping her to submission
      to
      their *ulterior motives' as some politicians have made us believe.' He
      pointed out that the donor community is now focusing on the third term
      issue since, he said, it was a *litmus test' that will determine if the
      ruling
      party has changed for the better on upholding democratic principles.

      He said that should the third term bill be tabled and passed, Malawi's
      already ravaged economy will undoubtedly be plunged into further
      turmoil
      with donors pulling out as was the case in the past when various key
      donors bemoaned the way the United Democratic Front (UDF) led
      government was running the country.

      'We are desperately in need of donor aid taking into consideration the
      hunger situation currently being faced by many helpless Malawians. We
      want to get out of the economic hardships strait jacket,' further said
      another observer opting for anonymity.

      He added that the defeat of the open term bill was not meant to oust
      the
      incumbent President Bakili Muluzi from office but to maintain a
      semblance
      of democracy.

      The donor community has accused the ruling UDF of wholesale corruption
      and the diverting funds to unintended projects, especially by those in
      positions of public trust.

      Some instrumental donors like Britain and Denmark have already made
      their stance clear on the issue . Britain, who makes vast financial
      grants
      and other technical assistance towards the safeguarding of Malawi's
      democracy, last year withheld US$19 million intended for budgetary
      support while the Danes took US$87 million earmarked for Malawi back
      to
      their Central Bank in Copenhagen citing the numerous ills of the
      ruling
      UDF administration. The Nordic country contributed a staggering
      US$60million (K5.2 billion) into both budgetary and development aid
      support every year.

      The European Union (EU), currently whose presidency is headed by the
      Denmark, also withheld US$13 million and is still demanding a refund
      of
      US$6 million already disbursed because of irregularities in the
      tendering
      process.

      Finance Minister Friday Jumbe has admitted that since Denmark cutoff
      her
      ties with the country, economic hardships have been steadily
      worsening.
      He said that the government was ready to negotiate with the Nordic
      country to ensure a huge financial gap is bridged.

      Some Non-governmental Organisations have demanded an explanation
      and an apology from the State President before trying to mend the
      fences.

      President Muluzi continues to remain *mum' on the third term issue
      saying that it was not yet the time to bring it up again. He said
      rather, it was
      prudent for him and other UDF gurus to concentrate on issues of
      paramount importance such as HIV/AIDS, poverty reduction and hunger,
      among others.

      The president's silence has seen the emergence of two factions within
      the
      party; the pro-third-term and the anti-third term.

      The former, according to analysts, have enjoyed economic gain from the
      party president while the latter have fallen victim to the systematic
      purging
      from within the UDF camp. The latest victims being Jaap Sonke, a
      former
      cabinet minister who was stripped of his position and Joe Manduwa, also
      a
      one-time minister who was, at the time he declared his opposition to
      the
      third term the chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee looking into
      the
      abuse of office and fraud and corruption linked to the food security in
      the
      country.

      Manduwa was removed from the committee after it was felt he was
      getting
      too close to resolving the matter that brought hunger and distress to
      the
      nations rural poor. It was seen that he was willing to put the blame
      firmly
      on his own party colleagues.

      Muluzi, at public rallies has since practically declared their
      constituency
      seats vacant, further throwing the issue of participatory choice by
      the
      electorate in doubt.

      However, analysts argue that the odds are heavily tipped on the
      incumbent
      president coming out in the open to reveal his intention not to stand
      and to
      propose his choice of successor within the next few months.
      Presidential,
      Parliamentary and Council elections are expected to be held within the
      next 15 months.

      Political pundits indicate that Muluzi's delays could reflect badly on
      his
      party and the successor with a potential for a repeat of the Kenya
      scenario
      where the opposition fielded a single presidential candidate to remove
      what
      was perceive as a reluctant, oppressive and ineffective party from
      government.

      *****

      Government Never Submits Human Rights Reports

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
      January 7, 2003
      Posted to the web January 7, 2003

      Joseph Ganthu
      Lilongwe

      The Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) has expressed
      concern that the Malawi Government has never submitted any reports on
      human rights to the African Commission and described the attitude as
      lack
      of respect for human rights.

      Speaking at a press conference on the commemoration of International
      Human Rights Day which falls on December 10, Robson Chitengo of
      Blantyre CCAP Synod said the reluctance by the Malawi Government in
      submitting its report to the Commission was a clear testimony that
      human
      rights are not fully observed. HRCC is composed of churches and human
      rights organisations.

      'It is a clear proof that we are really mocking people when we talk of
      democracy,' said Chitengo observing that the State President Bakili
      Muluzi
      should not have gone abroad at the time when the world is celebrating
      the
      human rights day.

      'We hear stories of our head of state as being the champion of
      democracy
      and yet on his priority list has instead of commemorating this day with
      us
      decided to go out,' said Chitengo.

      The Executive Director for Centre for Research and Rehabilitation
      Ollen
      Mwalubunju in his comment on the president's trip abroad said it
      showed
      no wisdom for the head of state to be outside the country when
      Parliament
      was holding an important emegency meeting to save millions of starving
      Malawians .

      The loan authorisation of bill after being passed required the head of
      state
      to assent to it.

      This means since the president is still outside no further steps can
      be
      taken in the processing of the acquistion of the loan.

      The Excutive Director of Civil Liberties, Emmie Chanika also speaking
      at
      the same press conference said Malawi was one of the countries with
      little
      interest in human rights or constitutional issues.

      She recalled the incident in which churches, NGOs and the civil
      society
      were barred by armed police officers from marching against the
      extension
      of the state president's office.

      She said surprisingly the ruling UDF followers were allowed to march
      and
      were even protected by the police 'I think in Malawi the constitution
      is not a
      priority but a clique and inner circle,' said Chanika adding that if
      Malawi
      was serious about the constitution, the police should not have
      disrupted
      their march.

      *****

      MCP Followers Attack UDF 3rd Term Crusaders in
      Dedza

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
      January 7, 2003
      Posted to the web January 7, 2003

      Christopher Jimu
      Lilongwe

      Two United Democratic Front Third Term Crusaders were recently
      assaulted in Dedza by opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP)
      supporters on allegations that they were campaigning to unseat John
      Tembo from his post as member of parliament.

      According to Chairman of the Third Term Crusade Gerald Johnston the
      two boys, Richard Banda and John Phiri were beaten last Monday in T/A
      Kasumbu's area after some MCP supporters were angered by their
      activities of undermining the MCP and promoting the ruling party.

      'The boys went to Dedza to survey the situation and campaign for the
      UDF
      because there are by elections looming in Dedza. To our surprise they
      were severely beaten and they could have been killed. Despite being
      outnumbered the boys did their best to protect themselves otherwise it
      could have been a lot worse,' Johnston said.

      Johnston also revealed that his car, a Toyota Condor registration
      number
      BM 158 had one of it's rear tyres torn to pieces with panga knives the
      following day when he had gone to find out more on the matter.

      'They are bragging that no party should go to Dedza to campaign and
      survey the political situation. My car had one of it's tyres torn by
      the same
      MCP supporters. Fortunately I was not present at the time and I know
      it
      could have been bad for me if I was around,' Johnston declared.

      Asked if he had reported the matter to Police Johnstone said that
      himself
      being a crusader could not take the matter to Police.

      'I did not report to Police out of respect and not fear. If these MCP
      supporters start giving us boundaries of where to go and not to go then
      it is
      very unfortunate. They should not resort to beating us as if we are the
      ones
      who were responsible for Tembo's removal as MP,' observed Jonstone.

      Commenting on the issue MCP spokesperson Nicholas Dausi said that it
      is unfortunate that some UDF officials have decided to go and started
      campaigning in Tembo and Kainja's constituency even before the matter
      is
      resolved in the courts.

      'It is very premature for any political party to go to Dedza and start
      campaigning when the case of the two honourable MPs has not been
      resolved in the courts of law. Even though we MCP as a party always
      condemn violence we feel that it is not proper to provoke each other.

      'Time for campaigning in Tembo's or Kainja's constituency has not yet
      arrived. It is the Electoral Commission which will announce that
      political
      parties can start campaigning,' Dausi said adding, ' So until the time
      when
      the EC makes that declaration there is no need for people to start
      campaigning.' MCP Vice President John Tembo expressed surprise when
      contacted on the issue.

      'I don't know that UDF supporters were beaten in Dedza. I am hearing
      it
      from you,' Tembo said.

      Asked if he felt it was proper for people to start campaigning in his
      constituency before the matter was resolved in court Tembo refused to
      comment saying it was sub judice as the matter was still before the
      courts.

      This is not the first time the UDF and MCP supporters have fought in
      Dedza during campaign time.

      Three years ago leader of Young Democrats late Marshall Dukes was
      assaulted in Dedza by the MCP supporters almost in the same area where
      the two young democrats were assaulted.

      In another related incident, an MCP parliamentary candidate in 1999
      was
      badly beaten by a band of UDF Young Democrats.

      *****

      Mpinganjira Angers Muluzi

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
      January 7, 2003
      Posted to the web January 7, 2003

      Lilongwe

      - Withdraws monies from their joint account - Sells their
      London Flat from under him

      President Bakili Muluzi is reported to be angry with the leader of the
      National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Brown Mpinganjira, especially with
      the
      success of his movement's Convention and well attended rally at Njamba
      Park in Blantyre after learning that the former colleague and
      strongman
      cashed cheques worth millions of kwachas from their joint account at
      one
      of the leading banks in UK, The Chronicle has learnt.

      According to sources, before Mpinganjira and Muluzi crossed swords
      over
      the third term issue, they used to have one account with the two as
      joint
      signatories. The account, which was opened in 1998 to cater for the
      funding of the 199 UDF Election campaign was held at a Standard
      Charted
      Bank branch in West London. Additionally, some of the funds were used
      to
      purchased an executive flat near Heathrow Airport. Mpinganjira is
      alleged
      to have also sold the flat, which was in his name on one of his recent
      trips
      abroad.

      'Muluzi has been angered by Mpinganjira's actions. Mpinganjira had
      many
      cheques already signed by Muluzi and he has withdrawn millions of
      kwachas using those cheques. He has also sold the flat which was
      purchased by the two without consent from the President,' said the
      source
      adding, 'Muluzi and Mpinganjira are real enemies now, much more now
      than when Mpinganjira challenged Muluzi on the third term bid.' He
      also
      added that Mpinganjira's recent persecution at the hands of the UDF
      are
      not because of the increasing popularity of the NDA but because Muluzi
      feels that Mpinganjira has undermined him by withdrawing large chunks
      of
      money which was meant to assist the UDF to remain in power.

      Just last week the national broadcaster Malawi Broadcasting
      Corporation
      announced that Mpinganjira was arrested in Zambia on allegations that
      he
      was travelling using false documentation.

      When contacted on the issue Mpinganjira while admitting that he felt
      his life
      was in danger from the ruling UDF disputed reports that he sold off a
      flat in
      UK and syphoned a lot of money from their joint bank account.

      'I have never held a joint partnership with President Muluzi. He has
      his
      businesses interests and I have got mine. That is total rubbish there
      is no
      grain of truth in that story,' Mpinganjira asserted.

      Asked to comment on reports that he was arrested in Zambia two weeks
      ago, Mpinganjira revealed that he had information that some people he
      did
      not mention wanted to assassinate him and lie to the nation that he
      was
      running away from the Zambian Police.

      'I never went anywhere. I was here in Blantyre at my house but I was
      told
      that some people were planning to abduct me and take me to Zambia. I
      know my life is in danger but God is always on my side and will always
      protect me.

      'Right now I still cannot understand why MBC decided to announce such
      falsehoods to the nation,' said Mpinganjira, adding, 'Right now the
      matter is
      with my lawyers and we are taking MBC to court.' Presidential
      spokesperson Willie Zingani declined to comment on the phone and asked
      this reporter to send him a questionnaire.

      'I can not comment on that story on the phone. I have been misquoted
      before and if you send me a questionnaire so much the better,' Zingani
      said.

      However a questionnaire sent on Friday was not replied to until we went
      to
      bed.

      Mpinganjira and Muluzi have been at loggerheads since the former UDF
      strongman opposed Muluzi's bid for a third term.

      *****

      WFP Moves GM Food to Malawi

      The Post (Lusaka)
      January 7, 2003
      Posted to the web January 8, 2003

      Bivan Saluseki
      Lusaka

      THE World Food Programme (WFP) is moving the Genetically Modified
      food from Zambia to Malawi, the Southern Africa complex food security
      crisis situation report by the USAID has revealed.

      The report dated January 3, 2003 states that the WFP continues to move
      biotech food commodities from Zambia to Malawi following government's
      rejection of the biotech food assistance.

      "Mozambique and Malawi have expressed concerns over the
      environmental effects of biotech food, but are accepting such food
      assistance as long as it is milled before distribution," the United
      States
      Agency for International Development (USAID) stated. "However, the
      government of Malawi has publicly stated its intention not to disrupt
      the
      distribution of humanitarian corn if milling is not possible."

      The report stated that December maize prices in Zambia averaged
      between US $240 and US $260 per metric tonne, three times more than
      the highest recorded maize prices in 2000 and 2001. "Prices are likely
      to
      continue to increase as a result of the limited prospects for
      commercial
      imports in early 2003. However, WFP expects the pipeline for January
      and
      February to be relatively strong.

      WFP estimates that 79,676 metric tonnes of cereals will arrive during
      these two months," the report said. The report stated that from the
      beginning of 2002 to date, the US government has provided or pledged
      more than US $278 million in emergency humanitarian assistance in
      response to the food security crisis. The report stated that in the
      fiscal year
      2002, USAID and Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)
      provided more than US $10 million in non-food programs that were
      currently underway in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, and Lesotho. On the
      latest shipment of US food assistance to the region, the report stated
      that
      to date, the US government has delivered over 400,000 metric tonnes of
      food to the region.

      "The balance of approximately 100,000 metric tonnes will arrive in the
      region by the end of February. The Magna Energy, with 15,000 metric
      tonnes of bulk sorghum, recently arrived in Dar es Salaam. WFP will
      receive 5,000 metric tonnes of this cargo," the USAID stated.

      "The remaining 10,000 metric tonnes will be given to the NGO
      consortium,
      C-SAFE.

      The entire tonnage has been allocated for Zambia." The report stated
      that
      this year, however, regional stocks were exceptionally low, as they
      were
      drawn down to fill the previous year's food shortages, and surplus
      commodities within the region were limited. USAID is also sponsoring a
      SADC regional workshop on biotech and food insecurity in Gaborone,
      Botswana, in February 2003.

      Participants would include technical experts from around the world and
      policy makers from the affected countries. The meeting will address
      the
      technical and policy issues related to biotech food assistance.

      *****

      Friend Testifies in Mozambique Trial

      By Emmanuel Camillo
      Associated Press Writer
      Wednesday, January 8, 2003; 3:35 AM

      MAPUTO, Mozambique –– A
      journalist who was slain while investigating
      Mozambique's largest banking
      scandal was "horrified" that the wealthy family
      involved seemed to be above
      the law, the reporter's friend testified in his
      murder trial.

      Carlos Cardoso was gunned down in November 2000 and
      two brothers of
      the Abdul Satar family, key players in the banking
      scandal, have been charged
      with his murder.

      Cardoso had been one of the strongest voices
      demanding those involved in
      the theft of $14 million from the Commercial Bank of
      Mozambique in 1996
      be brought to justice.

      "(Cardoso) was horrified by the impunity enjoyed by
      the Abdul Satar family,"
      his friend, Albano Silva, told the Maputo City Court
      on Tuesday.

      Silva, an attorney who worked for the bank, said he
      told Cardoso that
      prominent lawyers had cooperated with the Abdul
      Satars and others to hide
      the evidence.

      "Cardoso then wrote demanding that the case come to
      trial and that the
      attorney general's office take its role seriously,"
      Silva said.

      Before Cardoso began investigating the case, media
      coverage had mostly
      been favorable to the Abdul Satars.

      Cardoso stepped up his work on the case after the
      bank's chairman, Eneas
      Comiche, denounced the fraud and the complicity of
      the attorney general's
      office in parliament in March 2000.

      Silva said that Cardoso was "the person who painted
      the true picture of the
      Satars and (bank manager) Vincente Ramaya, and who
      ruined their schemes."

      Ayob Abdul Satar and bank manager Ramaya were both
      charged with
      ordering Cardoso's killing. Abdul Satar's brother,
      Momade Assife Abdul
      Satar, Anibal Antonio dos Santos Junior, Manuel
      Fernandes, and Carlitos
      Rachid Cassamo were charged with carrying it out.

      In 1996, members of the Abdul Satar family opened
      accounts in Ramaya's
      branch of the Commercial Bank of Mozambique which
      was about to be
      privatized.

      Over several months, the Abdul Satar family
      deposited dozens of worthless
      checks in these accounts and withdrew $14 million of
      cash.
    • 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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