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  • Christine Chumbler
    IMF Team to Assess Economic Progress UN Integrated Regional Information Networks January 14, 2003 Posted to the web January 14, 2003 Johannesburg An
    Message 1 of 1046 , Jan 15, 2003
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      IMF Team to Assess Economic Progress

      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
      January 14, 2003
      Posted to the web January 14, 2003

      Johannesburg

      An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team arrived in Malawi on Monday
      to
      assess whether to unfreeze US $47 million in vital aid to the country,
      news
      reports said.

      In May the IMF said it would withhold the US $47 million earmarked for
      Malawi under its Poverty Reduction Growth Facility due to government
      overspending beyond targets set by the Fund.

      The IMF board was due to have met in December to review Malawi's
      economic performance before authorising the release of the money. But,
      according to the news agency AFP, the meeting was postponed with the
      IMF telling the government to rectify "pressure points" in its current
      budget
      before lending could resume.

      Other key donors, including Britain, had reportedly linked the release
      of
      bilateral aid to a green light from the Fund.

      Finance Minister Friday Jumbe said the timing of the IMF's visit was
      "critical" because it would enable the Fund's team to review his
      latest
      budget. "We are confident the Fund will see major improvements made on
      our side," he told AFP.

      An estimated US $8 million was illegally siphoned off from the state
      budget
      to pay for non-existent workers, a report released this week by the
      Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) said. "This has caused the fiscal
      deficit
      to increase and the government has thus failed to fulfil the
      conditionalities
      imposed by the IMF. Therefore, the government will have to rein in its
      spending in early 2003 if the IMF is to resume funding under Malawi's
      poverty reduction and growth facility," it noted.

      The EIU forecast that Malawi's total debt stock would increase to US
      $3
      billion in 2003 and then fall to US $2.8 billion in 2004, if it met the
      criteria for
      debt relief under the IMF-World Bank's heavily indebted poor countries
      (HIPC) initiative. Malawi would only be offered HIPC relief when it
      successfully fulfilled the IMF's conditionalities under the poverty
      reduction
      and growth facility for at least a year, the EIU said.

      *****

      UK issues Zanzibar
      terror warning

      British citizens in Tanzania are being warned
      that they may be the target of "an
      international terrorist group".

      The UK Foreign Office issued the warning after
      receiving information that terrorists were
      planning an attack.

      Tourists staying on the
      island of Zanzibar, off
      the East African coast,
      were warned to take
      particular care in public
      places.

      Western interests in Africa have been the
      target of such attacks in the past.

      Eight people were killed when terrorists
      attacked the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam in
      August 1998.

      In neighbouring Kenya, 15 people died in a
      bomb attack on a hotel near Mombasa on 28
      November last year.

      'Be vigilant'

      An unsuccessful attempt was also made to
      shoot down an Israeli charter plane on the
      same day.

      The updated Foreign Office advice says: "We
      believe that Tanzania, including Zanzibar and
      Pemba Islands, is one of a number of countries
      in East Africa and the Horn of Africa where
      there may be an increased terrorist threat.

      "We have received information that an
      international terrorist group may be planning an
      attack on the island of Zanzibar.

      "British nationals in Tanzania, and especially in
      Zanzibar, should be vigilant, particularly in
      public places frequented by foreigners such as
      hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, markets,
      bars and nightclubs."

      The Foreign Office guidance does not go so far
      as advising Britons to leave the country.

      US issues Zanzibar terror warning


      The British warning follows a similar message
      from the United States last week warning its
      citizens to be on alert in public places such as
      markets, bars and nightclubs in Zanzibar.

      *****

      Zimbabwe Rumors Persist Despite Denials

      By Angus Shaw
      Associated Press Writer
      Tuesday, January 14, 2003; 11:45 PM

      HARARE, Zimbabwe –– Reports of a deal to end
      Zimbabwe's political crisis by having President
      Robert
      Mugabe retire have struck a chord in this
      beleaguered nation.

      But Mugabe, who is on a visit to neighboring Zambia
      at the
      end of a two-week vacation in Asia on Tuesday,
      denied
      again he agreed to step down.

      "Only a few months ago, the people of Zimbabwe
      elected me
      to serve them and it would be absolutely
      counterrevolutionary for me to step down," he said
      in
      Lusaka, Zambia. He was elected to a new six-year
      term in
      March.

      Though both the government and the opposition have
      strenuously denied the reports, many Zimbabweans
      were
      unwilling Tuesday to dismiss them so easily.

      "It has caused a glimmer of hope," said Brian
      Raftopoulos, a
      political scientist at Harare University.

      Mugabe, 78, led the nation to independence from
      Britain in
      1980. But after 23 years of his authoritarian rule,
      many of his
      compatriots say they would not be sorry to see him
      step
      down.

      "If it's true, the old crocodile must go. Now," said
      Moses Bangure, a store clerk in Harare told
      shoppers at his checkout counter.

      The leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic
      Change, Morgan Tsvangirai, has confirmed
      what he called a "clandestine" plan by independent
      mediators in which Mugabe would step down to
      clear the way for a caretaker government followed by
      presidential elections within two years.

      The mediators were representing two of the most
      powerful figures in the ruling party, Parliament
      Speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa and Gen. Vitalis
      Zvinavashe, chief of staff and commander of the
      armed forces.

      According to Tsvangirai, mediators said they had
      promised to deliver Mugabe's resignation.

      "My own view is the offer could not have been made
      without Mugabe's knowledge and it is the
      beginning of a process," Raftopoulos said.

      Whatever the case, the idea won't go away easily.

      "There's a political stalemate in Zimbabwe, creating
      an ideal ground for a new initiative," Raftopoulos
      said.

      That was clearly the case Tuesday for a group of
      young doctors at a state hospital in Harare where
      basic drugs, surgical gloves and other supplies are
      in short supply.

      "Times are hard and it would be wonderful to see
      some changes," said one of several doctors gathered
      around a single copy of the state Herald newspaper.
      He said he did not want his name used.

      Businessmen and factory owners also reported an
      atmosphere of anticipation and excitement. Hopes
      ran high that Mugabe's departure could lead to
      economic reforms that would end the now
      commonplace long lines for food and gasoline.

      Mugabe won a new six-year term in March elections.
      Independent observers said the elections were
      deeply flawed and the opposition, along with
      Britain, the European Union and the United States, said
      the voting was rigged and influenced by violence and
      intimidation.

      The political chaos and the government's isolation
      internationally has caused shortages of hard currency
      and essential imports. Disruptions in the
      agriculture-based economy and a severe drought have caused
      acute shortages of food.

      During the past three years, Mugabe's government has
      seized most of Zimbabwe's thousands of
      white-owned commercial farms, calling it a justified
      struggle by landless blacks to correct colonial-era
      injustices that left 4,000 whites with one-third of
      the farm land.

      Mugabe's ruling party, Zanu-PF, has become almost
      dysfunctional but the opposition lacks the muscle
      and experience to confront it.

      Tsvangirai has said the opposition would not insist
      on Mugabe going into exile if he steps down.

      Malaysia was said to have offered Mugabe sanctuary.

      But in Lusaka, Zambia, Mugage denied he would go
      into exile. "I was born in Zimbabwe and I won't go
      anywhere in exile.

      "I will remain in Zimbabwe and I will be buried on
      Zimbabwean soil,." Mugabe said during a ceremony
      honoring former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda for
      his work to liberate southern Africa from
      colonial rule.

      However, U.N. officials have confirmed that World
      Food Program chief James Morris is scheduled to
      visit Zimbabwe next week and has been told he cannot
      see Mugabe – who would still be on vacation.
      Earlier, the government had said Mugabe was due back
      this week.
    • 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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