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  • Christine Chumbler
    Malawi floods spread The heavy rains in Malawi have spread to a new district, destroying homes and crops. At least 3,000 families in the mountainous region of
    Message 1 of 1046 , Jan 13, 2003
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      Malawi floods spread

      The heavy rains in Malawi have spread to a
      new district, destroying homes and crops.

      At least 3,000 families in the mountainous
      region of Rumphi in the north of Malawi have
      been left homeless following weekend floods -
      and more than 3,000 hectares of crop

      On Saturday, President Bakili Muluzi declared a
      state of national disaster in the affected areas
      and appealed for international help to cope
      with the flooding.

      The rains, caused by a cyclone two weeks
      ago, have created havoc for relief workers
      who've been trying to send in emergency

      More than 15,000 people are reported to have
      been made homeless, and at least nine deaths
      from cholera have raised fears of a major
      outbreak of the water-borne disease.


      Our reporter in Malawi, says Rumphi is known
      for the growing of cash crops such as tobacco
      and coffee, as well as Malawi's staple crop,

      The destruction of
      these crops by rain,
      now raises fears of
      further food

      The United Nations
      estimated last year
      that three million
      Malawians are at risk
      from famine.

      Mozambique was also
      affected by floods this week.

      Officials in the provinces of Nampula and
      Zambezia say 5,000 people have been made


      Political Parties Agree On Tembo's Expulsin

      Malawi Standard
      January 10, 2003
      Posted to the web January 10, 2003

      Tusekele Mwanyongo

      All the three major political parties represented in Parliament have
      hailed the High Court for upholding Speaker of Parliament's decision
      to declare vacant seats of MCP Vice President John Tembo and
      Secretary General Kate Kainja following their conviction on contempt
      of court charges.

      The two MPs were expelled from Parliament during a recent
      extraordinary session. They, however, sought a High Court injunction
      restraining Speaker Sam Mpasu from gazetting and effecting the
      expulsion, which was granted in the chambers of Justice Dial
      Kumange in Lilongwe.

      But Justice Kumange later quashed the injunction following a petition
      by the State to challenge the injunction. The judge dismissed the two
      MPs' petition as having no legal basis and ordered that they pay to
      Parliament K150, 000 in costs for taking Parliament to court on flimsy

      The expelled duo is undertaking final attempts to save their
      decades-long political careers from an imminent end. They were at the
      Blantyre High Court last week where they petitioned it to stay a court
      injunction to restrain the Speaker from declaring their seats vacant.

      Justice Leonard Unyolo threw out the application, advising that their
      petition should go back to the Lilongwe High Court where the whole
      issue started.

      Reacting to the Tembo and Kainja's issue, United Democratic Front
      (UDF) Deputy Publicity Secretary Ken Lipenga said the party hails the
      court's decision to quash the earlier injunction because it upholds
      rule of law.

      He said UDF was happy with the court ruling because it was a UDF
      MP who moved the motion to have the two seats declared vacant.

      Blantyre North MP Paul Maulidi (UDF) who is also UDF Deputy
      Secretary General moved the motion.

      "We, in the UDF, believe that we are a civilized society where we have
      laws to govern our general conduct. Surely, we are not in a jungle
      where anyone will behave in the manner he so wishes; a jungle where
      there is no civilization and no good order," Lipenga, who is also
      Minister of State for Presidential Affairs said.

      He said laws in this country are one of the major tenets of democracy.

      "Surely, you wouldn't pity such an irresponsible citizen, let alone a
      leader who is supposed to uphold a high level of integrity," he said.

      MCP Publicity Secretary, Nicholas Dausi, said it is sad that the two
      "honourable MPs" have finally lost their seats. He said there is
      the party can do now to save them.

      "It all went wrong at the beginning. If there was a little restraint,
      could have continued to be rosy for them," Dausi said.

      Alliance for Democracy Publicity Secretary Norman Nyirenda said his
      party has no sympathy for leaders who have no respect for the law of
      the land. He said it is unfortunate that Tembo wanted to continue
      practicing his one-party draconian politics after the dawn of
      democracy where the law of the land ought to prevail.

      Chitipa Wenya MP Manifesto Bulawayo Kayira (Aford) said as
      legislators, MPs are supposed to make, observe and obey laws.

      He said it is "very" unfortunate that the two MPs failed to live to
      expectation of people by failing to uphold the law.

      Kayira, who is also former AFORD Publicity Secretary said it is
      unfortunate that the two MPs and their faction conducted a party
      convention in contravention of their own party's constitution, which,
      said is a binding legal document.

      "In further contravention of the law, the MPs went ahead to conduct
      convention despite being served with a court injunction restraining
      them from going ahead with the convention. This was total
      recklessness," Kayira said.

      It is inappropriate, he said, for MPs to break laws, which they,
      themselves, make in Parliament.

      "It's really difficult for me and surely for others in AFORD to feel
      sympathetic, however painful their fate seems to be. This is a matter
      morality. This should serve as an example to every Malawian who
      intends to be a public figure to avoid making similar mistakes.

      "Everyone ought to remember that ignorance has no defence at law,"
      Kayira said.

      A second-hand shoes vendor in Limbe, Never Kanyowa, said that
      Tembo is a clear example of conservative politicians who resist

      "It is good riddance for MCP and the new political dispensation," he

      A cell phone technician, Austin Ussi, said that he had hitherto great
      respect for Kainja, saying it was sad that Tembo has misled the
      innocent lady.

      "I wonder what it feels like to be expelled from Parliament when you
      aspired to be the country's President?" further quizzed Ussi.

      Other people interviewed at random by our reporters in Lilongwe did
      salute the action by the High Court in upholding the decision by
      Parliament to expel John Tembo and however expressed reservations
      on Kattie Kainja who they felt was a victim of circumstances. Most
      that Tembo has outlived his useful shelf-life and that he was now
      in borrowed time. They felt that Tembo should not have been a
      Member of Parliament given his poor past record. They felt time was
      ripe for new leaders to emerge from the MCP camp.


      Mpinganjira's Alliance Plans a Pipedream

      Malawi Standard
      January 10, 2003
      Posted to the web January 10, 2003

      By Paul Kang'ombe
      Blantyre, Malawi

      A Political Scientist at Chancellor College in Zomba has said National
      Democratic Alliance (NDA) leader Brown Mpinganjira's plans to have
      an opposition alliance to unseat the United Democratic Front (UDF)
      from government are impracticable because most opposition party
      leaders do not have a common ground to form a coalition. They also
      mobilize along different attractions and are all motivated by the wish
      and will to have money.

      Mpinganjira told the first convention of NDA at the Chichiri
      Centre in Blantyre last week that opposition parties should form a
      coalition similar to Kenya's National Rainbow Alliance Coalition
      (NARC), which has won the Kenyan polls of last December.

      Nixon Khembo, a Political Scientist, said in an interview that
      opposition coalition could not survive if its sole aim would be to
      dislodge UDF from government because the opposition leaders have
      no common ground and lack credible leadership credentials.

      "The coalition is not possible because opposition leaders have no
      common ground for the coalition and it will only create leadership
      wrangle should it come to pass," he said.

      Khembo said the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP),
      which is split into two groups needs to put its house in order before
      alliance issue can be discussed meaningfully.

      He also said the MCP, the only opposition party with political
      structures across the country would insist on having the leader of the
      coalition from the party, not from the minority opposition parties.

      "MCP has political structures while other [opposition] political
      haven't and that would be a bone of contention. Even if the coalition
      convention elects a leader who is not MCP that particular leader would
      not be accepted and the coalition would be short lived before the
      in 2004," he explained.

      He said opposition leaders should know that people would only vote
      for a leader whose credentials are not questionable, saying they would
      look at a politician's background, how he has been behaving morally in
      the recent past.

      "Malawians would vote for a politician who is conversant with party
      affairs, a politician who is stable and articulates issues of national
      interest, among many other useful credentials.

      MCP Publicity Secretary, Nicholas Dausi, said it is too early for his
      party to start negotiating for alliances because it has internal
      squabbles to resolve.

      "We have to sought out internal problems first and other issues later.
      Other political parties should also know that MCP has structures
      throughout the country and other things, so any party wishing to form
      an alliance with us would be expected to abide by the conditions that
      we would set before the alliance is formed," he said.

      A source in the NDA said Mpinganjira dreams of becoming the leader
      of such a political coalition.

      "Mpinganjira has been saying on several occasions that he would
      automatically become the leader of the alliance should other political
      parties buy the idea of the coaliation," he said.

      "I was not surprised that Mpinganjira was proposing the idea of party
      coalition during the opening of the NDA convention last week. He
      knows the weaknesses of NDA but at the same time he would like to
      manipulate other opposition parties for support and ride on their
      backs for him to gain political power," said another NDA source close
      to Mpinganjira.s po

      However, another political observer commented that Mpinganjira
      ought to be reminded that even in the United States of America a
      presidential candidate's character matters at the polls. "On May 3,
      1987, Gary Hart was the leading candidate seeking the 1988
      Democratic nomination for president. Five days later, he announced
      his withdrawal from the race because of his infidelity with an
      woman Donna Rice."

      "On May 3, the late Sunday edition of The Miami Herald printed a
      front-page story, under the headline, "Miami woman is linked to Hart."
      The newspaper article indicated that Hart and Rice were seen
      entering his house alone late Friday evening and did not emerge until
      Sunday evening. That immoral act destroyed Gary Hart's political
      dream of becoming America's president. What more with Mpinganjira
      whom the Malawi nation knows that he used his political position to
      take away Lizzie from her husband Michael Lossa?" quizzed the

      Besides Lizzie will dash the presidential dreams of Mpinganjira to
      nothing at the polls more than he thinks. Some women in Blantyre who
      know the character of Lizzie very well and oberserved her atire
      including the shoes she wore at the COMESA convention, equate her
      to Mrs Imelda Marcos, former First Lady of the Philippines who owned
      three thousand pairs of very expensive shoes. They say that she likes
      an expensive life style and they fear that she would squander
      taxpayers' money on her personal lifestyle. Hence they would not risk
      entrusting Mpinganjira with the responsibility of governing Malawi

      "As far as we know, the First Lady, Madame Patricia Shannil Muluzi is
      not extravagant and most times her atire is simple, just a traditional
      Chilundu and a head gear. And because of that she has won the
      hearts of many women in Malawi. We even are happy that she has
      been voted Woman of the Year for the third time," commented one
      business woman.


      Government Officials Uproot GM Maize Plants

      Malawi Standard
      January 10, 2003
      Posted to the web January 10, 2003

      Paul Kang'ombe

      Ministry of Agriculture officials and local communities last week
      uprooted genetically modified maize (GMO) planted by some
      subsistence farmers in Blantyre.

      Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Hendrina Mchiela
      confirmed the incident.

      She said communities notified the Ministry's monitoring field officers
      on some farmers who planted the GMO maize seeds.

      "We received reports that some farmers had planted GMO in
      Lirangwe, Mdeka and another area in Blantyre. I have forgotten its
      name. Our field officers went around to interview the people there
      about the farmers who planted GMO. The communities themselves
      assisted in uprooting the maize seedling and the Ministry distributed
      free farm inputs to the farmers as an alternative," she explained.

      Mchiela however, could not say how many hectares of GMO maize
      fields were uprooted.

      Some farmers have planted GMO maize contrary to government's
      advice not to plant the maize to avoid environmental pollution the
      maize variety could cause to local maize varieties.

      According to reports, some farmers planted GMO maize seeds
      because they did not receive government's Extended Target Inputs
      Programme (ETIP) free farm inputs known as 'starter pack' in time
      while some had no maize seeds to plant at the beginning of the rainy

      The Ministry of Agriculture has warned that it would uproot all GMO
      maize plants using its monitoring field officers across the country.

      Nonetheless, this has not gone well with some farmers who planted
      the seeds.

      But the Ministry of Agriculture PS says: "The problem with us
      Malawians is that we expect government to do everything for us. The
      people can plant winter crops as an alternative."

      Robert Malizani, a resident in Lilongwe said in an interview some
      farmers in the Central Region have planted the GMO maize.

      But the Ministry of Agriculture says it has not received any report
      the Central and Northern Regions apart from Blantyre.

      "Farmers were forced to plant the seeds because they had no seeds
      when planting rains started," he said.

      He advised the Ministry to use agricultural advisors to identify those
      farmers who planted the maize if the operation is to be successful.

      A farmer in Blantyre who asked for anonymity said he is not aware of
      the dangers of planting GMO.

      "Government knows the dangers of planting GMO maize while me, I
      don't. I just know that when one plants any maize variety, he will
      at the end of the growing season," he urged.

      Lester Luwanda from Phalombe said some farmers have planted the
      GMO maize because they did not have maize seeds to plant as they
      depleted their stock because of hunger; and they did not receive free
      maize seeds as it was not universally done.

      "Long time ago farmers used to stock some seeds from their harvest
      but because of hunger, the practice has now become history," he


      Malawian Boys At Greater Risk of Dying Than Girls

      Malawi Standard
      January 10, 2002
      Posted to the web January 10, 2003

      Alan Mozes
      Blantyre, Malawi

      Boys here in Malawi have twice the risk of dying in their first few
      as do girls-an observation researchers describe as both surprising
      and unexplainable.

      "Basically, it is well known that a bit more boys than girls are born
      in all
      populations," said Dr. P. Ashorn of the University of Tampere Medical
      School in Finland.

      "Normally, boys have slightly higher mortality in childhood, so that
      sex ratio is close...at puberty and early adulthood," says Ashorn

      "But in rural Malawi," said Ashorn, "we found that between 9 and 36
      months of age, males had twice as high mortality than females-a

      For a three-year period, Ashorn and colleagues looked at the death
      rate among boys and girls in a rural district where many people
      on subsistence farming.

      The researchers followed 767 infants from birth up to age three. All
      immunizations against major diseases, such as polio, tetanus, and
      measles, were recorded. About 66 percent to 98 percent of children
      were vaccinated, depending on the shot, and vaccination rates were
      similar among boys and girls.

      In the current issue of The Archives of Disease in Childhood, the
      authors report that 100 babies and 47 boys and girls between the
      ages of one and two died during the study period.

      The researchers found that death rates were higher among boys than
      girls immediately after birth, but were more or less similar during
      next 8 months.

      However, they found that between the ages of 9 months and 3 years,
      the boys were twice as likely to die as the girls.

      Although 18 percent of the mothers had been infected with HIV prior to
      giving birth, there was no association between HIV status and the
      higher death rate among boys.

      The researchers did find that wasting, stunted growth and abnormally
      low weights were more common among the boys than the girls.

      Causes of death included malnutrition, malaria, anemia, respiratory
      infections, diarrhea, and in one case, an accident.

      The authors suggest that the increased risk for mortality among boys
      may be related to a local social bias.try

      In Malawi, daughters tend to remain at home to care for parents after
      sons marry and move away. This might drive parents to more quickly
      seek health care for their daughters than their sons, the authors
      speculate, though immunization rates were nearly identical among
      boys and girls. "At the moment, we have no good explanation to the
      finding," Ashorn told Reuters Health.

      "Part of the difference is likely to be related to the fact that boys
      more often malnourished than girls. Also, it is known that some
      infectious diseases affect boys and girls in different ways, and this
      may be one explanation for our finding.

      "There is no evidence that parents...would be caring for girls and
      in a different way," Ashorn added, noting that the research will
      continue to try to find an explanation for the higher death rate among


      Writers Union Donates Books to Zomba Prison

      Malawi Standard
      January 10, 2002
      Posted to the web January 10, 2003

      By Brian Ligomeka
      Blantyre, Malawi

      The Malawi Writers Union (Mawu) last Thursday donated assorted
      items to Zomba Maximum Security Prison. The items included books,
      Sugar, medicine, soap, religious tracts, papers and ballpens.

      After making the donation Mawu president, Tsambalikagwa Mvona,
      said that his organization thought of assisting the prison, which
      food, medicine and other necessities for its inmates.

      Mvona said the donation of the books would help to reduce illiteracy
      rate among the inmates.

      "There are both educated and uneducated prisoners who will benefit
      from the donation. The books we have donated today are on history,
      culture, anthropology, physical science and some other things, that we
      experience in our everyday life," he said.

      Mvona said Mawu's wish is to see to it that prisoners are exposed to
      high quality reading material.

      He further said Mawu believes that by donating the books, they are
      cultivating future leaders who would in turn contribute to the
      development of this country.

      "The prisoners would be reading the books during their spare time.
      One day we will not be surprised to hear that among these prisoners
      one or two has published a book. Good and renowned history book
      writers originate from prisons throughout the world," said Mvona
      academician Jack Mapanje, former South African President, Nelson
      Mandela, and poet late Edson Mpina, among others.

      The Mawu president assured prisoners that his organization would do
      everything possible to promote a culture of writing among them.

      Senior Assistant Commissioner responsible for the Eastern Division,
      Defastin Nthara said he was grateful for the donation, which he
      described as timely.

      Nthara said, "The donation will be used for the intended purpose. We
      will make sure that nobody steals the things," said Nthara.

      The prison boss pointed out that inmates have to be well looked after
      by giving them good food, medicine, clothes, religious and education
      materials, among other things.

      Zomba Maximum Security Prison is currently holding 1,795 inmates.

      The books donated included those written by Malawian and foreign

      This was the first time for Mawu to make such a donation to Zomba
      Prison since its establishment three years ago.


      K1, 500 Fine for Cellphone Drivers

      Malawi Standard
      January 10, 2002
      Posted to the web January 10, 2003

      By Paul Kang'ombe
      Blantyre, Malawi

      The Road Traffic Directorate (RTD) has introduced a stiffer penalty
      motorists who drive while speaking on a cell phone.

      Under the Malawian law already enforce, a fine of K1,500-00 shall be
      slapped on any driver contravening the law.

      RTD director Jomo Mkandawire told The Malawi Standard that the
      rate of road carnage has increased due to recklessness by drivers
      who talk on cell phones while on the road.

      Under Section 108 of the Malawi Road Traffic Act drivers are barred
      from using a cell phone while they are driving.

      However, the RTD efforts to apprehend culprits of this crime are
      hampered by lack of adequate human resources and equipment.

      The RTD is therefore appealing to all drivers to adhere to this law.


      MDC denies plan to oust Mugabe

      January 2003 07:15

      Zimbabwe's main opposition party on Monday denied
      reports in the British
      press that it was involved in a plot to exile
      President Robert Mugabe and
      allow for a government of national unity to be

      The Times of London reported on Monday that a
      scheme was being
      hatched by senior officials in Mugabe's ruling
      Zimbabwe African National
      Union (Zanu-PF) party which would guarantee Mugabe
      immunity from
      prosecution in return for leaving the country for
      refuge abroad.

      "That story is not true, it's mere speculation,"
      Paul Temba Nyathi,
      representative for the opposition Movement for
      Democratic Change (MDC)
      told AFP.

      The paper cited MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai as
      saying his party was
      ready to allow Mugabe to receive immunity if the
      long-time leader of
      Zimbabwe -- re-elected to another six-year term in
      March last year after 22
      years in power -- stands down. But both Nyathi and
      representative, William Bango, said the British
      daily was probably referring
      to a claim made last month by Tsvangirai that there
      were diplomatic efforts
      afoot to get him to meet with Mugabe.

      He claimed then that Britain, South Africa and the
      ruling party were working
      behind the scenes to get him to the negotiating
      table with Mugabe to
      discuss the country's many crises.

      Zimbabwe's economy has nosedived, with severe
      shortages of foreign
      currency and triple-digit inflation. The country is
      also in the grips of crippling
      food shortages which threaten more than two-thirds
      of the population of
      more than 11 million with famine.

      The shortages are mainly attributed to a drought
      which has ravaged
      southern Africa, but critics also blame Mugabe's
      controversial land reforms,
      which have seen white-owned commercial farms seized
      for redistribution to
      landless blacks, for worsening the food crisis.

      Nyathi said there has been no easing of relations
      between his party and

      "We as a party are exactly where we were when the
      talks between MDC
      and Zanu-PF broke down" in May last year, he said.
      Those talks were
      scuppered after the opposition launched a legal
      challenge to Mugabe's

      Last year's talks, brokered by Nigeria and South
      Africa, were aimed at
      finding a way out of the post-election political
      impasse between the two

      Tsvangirai, who lost to Mugabe in the March
      election, has rejected the
      outcome of that vote, alleging fraud and
      malpractice, and called for fresh

      On Monday Zanu-PF promised to issue a statement in
      reaction to the
      alleged plot to exile Mugabe. - Sapa-AFP


      Harare mayor released
      from jail

      The opposition mayor of Zimbabwe's capital,
      Harare, has been released after being detained
      since Saturday by police who accused him of
      holding a political rally without permission.

      The release of mayor, Elias Mudzuri, and 20
      supporters came about after an order obtained
      from a High Court judge.

      Under Zimbabwe's
      Public Order and
      Security Act, police
      clearance must be
      obtained for all
      political gatherings.

      Police said he had not
      obtained this, but the
      judge "was very clear
      in his order that it was
      not a political meeting,
      it was a civic
      meeting," according to
      the mayor's lawyer,
      Beatrice Mtetwa, who spoke to AFP news

      Mr Mudzuri may still be charged with assault -
      police say he bit an officer's finger during his

      Opposition leaders, however, contend Mr
      Mudzuri was "manhandled" by police.

      The main opposition party, the Movement for
      Democratic Change (MDC), said that
      Saturday's gathering was not political but was
      called to discuss civic matters like waste
      collection problems.

      Power struggle

      Mr Mudzuri was elected mayor last March. He
      has been involved in a power struggle with
      President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF
      government ever since.

      The government has accused the mayor of
      incompetence, corruption and insubordination.

      On Wednesday, four opposition supporters
      were arrested for demonstrating against moves
      by President Mugabe's administration to
      appoint governors to run the opposition-held
      cities of Harare and Bulawayo.

      The government says the new governors will
      not interfere with the mayors, but the MDC
      sees the move as a drive against its growing


      Zim govt freezes prices of school fees

      January 2003 13:35

      The Zimbabwe government has frozen all school fees
      including those of
      private institutions, the latest in wide-ranging
      price controls aimed at easing
      economic hardship, a newspaper said on Saturday.

      The state-controlled Herald newspaper reported that
      fees in all the country's
      schools should remain at levels of the last school
      term in 2002.

      The new regulations were published in a government
      gazette on Friday, the
      Herald said.

      The government has also imposed sweeping price
      controls on all basic
      commodities and on a wide range of luxury goods,
      from televisions to

      "The freeze (of school fees) would cushion parents
      already suffering from the
      effects of economic hardships," said The Herald.

      The paper said some schools had announced their
      intention to raise school
      fees by more than 100 percent this year. Many
      businesses here are
      struggling to stay afloat amid the country's worst
      economic crisis ever.

      Some government boarding schools have complained
      that if they do not
      increase school fees they would not be able to feed
      pupils, the Herald said.

      Schools with genuine reasons for hiking their fees
      would need to receive
      permission from the Ministry of Education,
      according to the new rules. -
    • 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 8:06 AM
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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.


        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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