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  • Christine Chumbler
    Third Term Dominates Agenda UN Integrated Regional Information Networks January 21, 2003 Posted to the web January 21, 2003 This report does not necessarily
    Message 1 of 1046 , Jan 23, 2003
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      Third Term Dominates Agenda

      UN Integrated Regional Information
      January 21, 2003
      Posted to the web January 21, 2003

      This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the
      United Nations

      President Bakili Muluzi may have considered himself a sure bet to
      become Malawi's second president for life, but for an increasingly
      vocal campaign against his proposed third-term of office.

      Like his predecessor, former dictator Kamuzu Banda - who declared
      himself president for life until a referendum in 1993 and later
      in 1994 proved he was less popular than he believed - Muluzi has
      allegedly built a culture of cronyism around himself.

      Banda had ruled for about three decades before his departure, and
      critics claim Muluzi is keen to repeat that feat.

      He enjoys similar praise singing by poor villagers donning the ruling
      party's yellow colours at political rallies popularly known as "pay
      centres" - because Muluzi dishes out cash to participants.

      "You should see the difference between the ruling party [rallies] and
      the oppositions [rallies]. I don't just come, I always bring
      Muluzi said at a rally recently in Blantyre, the country's commercial

      On that occassion he had brought 4,000 school notebooks, 2,000
      ballpoint pens, one set of football uniforms, two soccer balls and two
      bicycles to donate to a run-down over-crowded urban primary school
      which serves 6,000 pupils.

      The gathering in Blantyre's Kabula area was just one of many he held
      in 2002 around the country to boost his chances of winning a third
      term. At such gatherings he describes his cash awards as "a token of
      appreciation" to "veterans" for strengthening the ruling United
      Democratic Front (UDF).

      "All I'm asking for, is just another 23 years," Muluzi said at one of
      campaign rallies, noting that he had only ruled for eight years and
      needed 23 years more to match his predecessor.

      For much of last year Muluzi had kept an official silence on whether
      not he wanted to stay on in power. But he has recently openly declared
      his intentions.

      He has said: "Who wants to rule a country for only eight years? You
      don't just change governments the way you change clothes. No, No,

      Since January 2002, the ruling party has lobbied members of
      parliament to amend the constitution to allow Muluzi to prolong his
      in power - the constitution limits the number of five-year terms a
      president may serve to two.

      The third-term debate is set against the background of food shortages
      that threaten 3.3 million people, low standards of education and a
      devastating HIV/AIDS pandemic that kills 70,000 people annually. The
      country's economy in 2001 contracted by 2 percent. About 900,000
      pupils out of 1.2 million have dropped out of primary school due to

      At Malawi's biggest referral hospital, the Queen Elizabeth in
      there has been a significant increase in admissions.

      Hospital Director Dr Ibrahim Idana said the hospital, which has 1,050
      beds, experienced an admissions increase of up to 50 percent in
      some wards due to the rising number of malnutrition cases.

      "Malnutrition in Malawi is not new. It's a problem that everyone knows
      about. If you go to any hospital now, there is an increase in child
      admissions. If you assess the cause of the disease, you find that it
      malnutrition," he said.

      Many patients returned after having been treated, as "after discharge,
      there is no food at home", Idana added.

      Muluzi's bid for the third term suffered its first set back in early
      2002 when a bill proposing an amendment to the constitution was
      narrowly defeated.

      But Muluzi intensified his campaign, in the face of mounting
      from the donor community, churches and human rights organisations
      to his quest for a third term.

      He issued a decree banning all demonstrations against or in favour of
      his bid for a third term.

      A university student was shot dead by police during a fracas in
      Zomba, some 68 km northeast of Blantyre. Two others were killed in
      Mulanje and 13 members of a pressure group, the National
      Democratic Alliance (NDA), were arrested as political violence
      heightened late last year.

      A second attempt at tabling the bill in October 2002 - after Minister
      Justice Henry Phoya proclaimed the government's intention to amend
      the constitution in a government gazette - failed again due to
      opposition pressure.

      The Human Rights Commission, a government appointed
      independent body, has reported rising political tensions, increased
      intimidation and violence orchestrated by the ruling party's militant
      "Young Democrats".

      The International Bar Association (IBA), a United Kingdom-based
      international lawyers association, also said in a report that there
      "damning evidence of corruption and abuse".

      "The scale of the poverty, the food shortages, and the AIDS epidemic
      in Malawi would challenge any society and any government.
      International support is going to be absolutely critical to get the
      of Malawi through this crisis. But to secure this, the government and
      executive are going to have to take urgent and convincing steps to
      restore international confidence in the country, attack corruption and
      uphold the rule of law. Right now, they seem to be heading in the
      wrong direction," said Linda Dobbs QC of the IBA delegation that
      visited Malawi last year.

      Indeed, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is still withholding US
      $47 million intended for the country's Poverty Reduction Growth
      Strategy (PRGS) under the IMF and World Bank Highly Indebted Poor
      Countries (HIPC) programme. Eighty percent of Malawi's
      development funding is donor-dependent.

      Malawi recently experienced floods which killed 10 people and left
      thousands homeless. Crops and cattle were also destroyed,
      increasing vulnerability levels in the country.

      The country is among the world's 10 poorest, with 65 percent of its
      people living on less than US $1 per day.


      Casino Woes Taifa Sisters

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
      January 22, 2003
      Posted to the web January 22, 2003

      Paul Kang'ombe

      Malawi Development Corporation (MDC), the government investment
      arm has applied for resident and work permits for some Tanzanian
      women popularly known as Taifas to work at a newly opened Casino
      in Blantyre.

      A senior MDC official, Nathan Mpinganjira confirmed there were
      Tanzanian women who entertain customers at the Casino but could
      not divulge more information.

      Chief Immigration Officer, David Kambilonje, disclosed in an interview
      that MDC applied for work permits for some young women from
      Tanzania who would be working at the Casino.

      "We received an application from MDC for work and residence permit
      for some Tanzanian women who would be working in their Casino," he

      He could, however not disclose the number of those who are on the
      application list.

      "I don't have the file with me, so I cannot give you the exact
      said Kambilonje.

      Asked what criteria the Immigration Department uses before issuing
      residence or work permits to immigrants, Kambilonje described it as
      an 'administrative issue'.

      A senior official at Ministry of Home Affairs who asked for anonymity
      disclosed that there is a technical panel that is charged with the duty
      issuing permits to foreigners.

      "There is a special technical committee that issues the permits but I
      cannot disclose who is in the committee," he explained.

      The young women, popularly known as Taifa Sisters taken after the
      Biblical daughters of Zion for their good hospitality are enticing
      patrons at the Casino.

      Some of the Taifas are plying their trade at Kamba joints in Blantyre.
      According to information gathered by The Malawi Standard, some of
      these Taifa put up at Chemusa, Mbayani, Chirimba and around
      Chatha locations in Blantyre.

      One of the Taifas who identified herself as Mable, said, she came to
      Malawi last year with a friend when a truck driver offered them a

      "We are renting a small house at Chemusa Township. We go to social
      centres like Lunzu and Kamba among others places to entertain men
      who give us money and beers in turn that's how we survive," she

      The immigration Department said it is not aware of these illegal
      immigrants and that it will investigate the matter further.


      Insurance Firms Threaten to Stop Covering Cars

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
      January 22, 2003
      Posted to the web January 22, 2003

      Standard Reporter

      Insurance Association of Malawi has said it feels that the
      of guns in the country has sparked a rise in motor vehicle thefts.

      A senior member of security sub-committee under the association,
      Eric Chapola, said in an interview that there have been cases of
      thieves breaking into cars and stealing batteries and car radios in
      past four years.

      Chapola said crime has now changed its face as thieves have
      become so desperate and would like to get away with anything they
      lay hands on.

      "If the current spate of motor vehicle thefts continues, the
      will be forced to suspend the policy cover or even scrape it off.
      vehicle thefts have led to loss of millions of Kwacha by insurance
      companies," he said.

      Chapola said they paid about K50 million on motor vehicle theft claims
      in the year 2001, and K100 million between January and August in

      He said the increase means that the insurance companies are losing
      a lot of money.

      Chapola, who is also the General Manager of Commercial General
      Insurance company said unlike in the past where insurance
      companies used to bear all the costs of refunds, claimants are now
      subject to contribute 25 percent of the total theft claim.

      He said the association wants to make people more careful by
      protecting their vehicles.

      Chapola said concerted efforts between government, companies and
      other stakeholders including the general public are vital to deal with
      the problem of car thefts.

      On the other hand, motor vehicle owners have accused the insurance
      firms of charging exorbitant premiums claiming that these companies
      have made a lot of money from these premiums. "Insurance
      companies are unfair even in South Africa where there are more thefts
      of motor vehicles, this kind of action has never been taken. These
      companies continue to make easy money every year and they should
      tell us what 60 cars represent against the total population of
      on Malawi roads," said Joseph Banda a resident of Ndirande
      township with three comprehensively insured vehicles.

      Another respondent who talked to our reporter is a transport manager
      of a company that owns over 120 vehicles who claimed that over ten
      years his company has not experienced a car theft. "Yes theft of motor
      vehicles is worrying but the payment of 25% contribution should only
      apply to those companies or organizations that have regularly
      experienced car thefts and not just anyone. Our company has not
      experience car thefts but we have insured our vehicles
      comprehensively all these years.

      Why should we be penalized when we next claim if we also experience
      a car theft? Why do insurance companies want to victimize companies
      that insure vehicles? We do not have police authority to track down
      thieves," mused the transport manager.

      About 80 percent of vehicles in Malawi are owned by government.
      Over 60 comprehensively insured motor vehicles were stolen last year.
      Toyota Hilux is the most commonly stolen vehicle.


      Floods Spread to Lower Shire

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
      January 22, 2003
      Posted to the web January 22, 2003

      Standard Reporter

      Massive flooding caused by Cyclone Delfina ravaged parts of Malawi
      and Mozambique last Friday, washing away homes and crops,
      submerging roads and bridges, and cutting off electricity in the two

      In Mozambique, one person died and 10 others were injured seriously
      when a vehicle plunged into a river after a bridge collapsed, state
      radio reported.

      The flooding, caused by weeks of heavy rains, comes as the Southern
      Africa region struggles to cope with a food crisis that threatens
      14 million people with starvation. Thousands of people have been left

      Two more Southern Malawi districts, Nsanje and Chikwawa, were hit
      by flooding, submerging roads and bridges, officials said. The number
      of people needing food assistance has increased from 15, 000 to
      about 20,000 people and almost 60,000 farming families have lost
      their crops.

      At least seven people have died because of the flooding.

      Malawi's agriculture ministry sent teams to assess the damage and
      the government has already started disbursing relief items to the

      President Bakili Muluzi, who surveyed some of the damage caused by
      the flooding has declared a state of disaster and asked the
      international community for assistance.

      In Mozambique, the government sent a helicopter to the flooded,
      northern region of Nampula to rescue trapped people and deliver

      Nearly 30,000 people in Nampula have been affected. Fifteen people
      in Mozambique have been killed in the flooding.

      The fishing port of Angoche was cut off from the rest of the country
      after its bridges and roads were destroyed or flooded.

      There was no electricity in the town, delivering a major blow to the
      fishing industry, which no longer can refrigerate fresh catches.

      Much of the local industry's catch has rotted.

      Still, fishing boats sail. A small vessel capsized and its four
      remain missing.

      Heavy rains fell last Friday in the central province of Zambezia and
      the northern province of Cabo Delgado, where the fatal accident

      Several villages were underwater.


      Speaker Quashes Congress Party Resolutions

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
      January 22, 2003
      Posted to the web January 22, 2003

      Paul Kang'ombe

      Speaker of the National Assembly Sam Mpasu who has just returned
      from Germany says he does not recognize the resolutions passed at
      Malawi Congress Party National Executive Committee meeting held
      at Lilongwe Hotel on Sunday.

      Mpasu says that he does not recognize Chakuamba as Leader of the
      Opposition as was declared at the MCP NEC meeting.

      Mpasu explained that the position of Leader of Opposition is an office
      of Parliament, therefore Leader of Opposition is an officer of
      Parliament, and therefore not be elected outside Parliament by party
      officials who are not elected members of parliament.

      He described the resolutions passed by the 24 member MCP
      National Executive Committee member as "an entirely MCP affair just
      aimed at solving their own internal problems."

      "The Leader of Opposition is the leader of members of parliament and
      is chosen by members of parliament themselves (and not a party
      National Executive Committee or outside Parliament," Mpasu said.

      Mpasu's statement simply means that Ntaba has a chance of
      becoming Leader of Opposition if the MCP caucus meeting when
      Parliament convenes will support his candidature.

      "When MCP's caucus meeting (held prior to a session of parliament)
      elects their Leader of Opposition, they will communicate to me about
      their leader of opposition," said Mpasu.

      Mpasu was commenting on the resolutions passed by the MCP NEC
      meeting most important of which were:

      1. That Gwanda Chakuamba should be the Leader of Opposition in

      2. That they should vote against the Third Term if the Bill is brought
      before parliament.

      3. That all cases against John Tembo should be withdrawn

      4. Jodder Kanjere and Kate Kainja should be the spokespersons to
      the media on behalf of the party

      5. And that there is no room for new blood in the party. If new blood
      wants positions they must contest in elections to be held in April

      The proceedings at the MCP National Executive Committee (NEC)
      which was held on Sunday at Lilongwe clearly demonstrated that the
      party is still autocratic as it was in the past when personalities of
      likes of the Chakuamba used to beat traditional chiefs at their

      According to our reporter who was at Lilongwe Hotel during the MCP
      NEC meeting, there was nothing like cordial discussions that
      democratic principles call for.

      Twenty four members of the MCP NEC, the majority of whom were
      from John Tembo's camp entered Maula Room of Lilongwe Hotel like
      military leaders without handshakes or smiles at 10 o'clock in the

      To the surprise of many people, youthful politicians who have been
      defending MCP President Gwanda Chakuamba like Nicholas Dausi
      were roughed up when they attempted to enter Maula Hall by Tembo

      "I was pushed like a nobody. I didn't like it. Tembo loyalists said
      that I
      was not elected during the 1997 convention, yet people like Binton
      Kutsaira and Bester Majoni, who were also not elected in 1997, were
      allowed to attend the NEC meeting," complained Dausi in an interview
      with The Malawi Standard.

      Typical of dictators, the NEC members asked Ntaba to confess that
      he would stop gunning for the position of leader of the opposition.
      NEC members especially those from Tembo camp also pressurized
      Ntaba to disclose his stand on the issue of the proposed Third Term

      Ntaba just told them that he will just abide by what the party agrees.
      The ordeal reminded some people the way MCP conventions were
      conducted during one party rule. (Zonse zomwe mukambirane
      kumeneko tigwirizana nazo syndrome.)

      As the 24 members of MCP NEC were locked up in their meeting,
      members of parliament who were also invited but were barred from
      attending began grumbling. Their patience ran out when time struck
      4.00 pm.

      The members of parliament angered by the discriminatory nature of
      the negotiations told an MCP official Potiphar Chidaya to tell the NEC
      Members to stop their meeting. The NEC members stopped their
      meeting in order to address the irate MPs. At the meeting between
      NEC and MPs, parliamentarian for Kasungu South East Kizito
      Ngwembe was asked to apologize to the party for presenting a
      petition to Speaker of Parliament Sam Mpasu asking him to declare
      Ntaba Leader of the Opposition, but Ngwembe blatantly refused to
      apologize saying that he was simply exercising his freedom of choice.

      The Lilongwe meetings were not a success considering that eighteen
      MCP members of parliament defied the call by Chakuamba and
      Tembo to attend a caucus meeting in Lilongwe.

      Many people still wonder as to why the parliamentarians decided to
      boycott the meeting. The public are of the opinion that the eighteen
      legislators are the ones who are solidly behind Ntaba.

      MCP Political Affairs director Jodder Kanjere confirmed in an
      interview that 18 members of Parliament did not show up at the

      "I was surprised with their absence and wondered how they could
      miss such an important meeting. Most of them just sent verbal excuses
      that they are sick while others said they are attending funeral
      ceremonies in their constituencies," said Kanjere.

      He declined to mention names of the 18 members of parliament who
      boycotted the convention.

      Meanwhile MCP vice president John Tembo, is hard-pressed by his
      president Gwanda Chakuamba to account for K7 million, the money
      from parliament that he collected on behalf of the party. He (Tembo)
      has shifted the blame to deputy treasurer general Stanley Masauli
      whom he has accused of embezzling rental fees he collected from the
      party's Southern Region headquarters at Chichiri and Clock Tower
      offices in Blantyre.

      The country's first open-university, Share World Institute of
      Management and Chichiri Integrated Schools are occupying MCP
      head offices at Chichiri while Blantyre Business College and Plastic
      Signs occupy Clock Tower offices, among others.

      According to a source in MCP, Chakuamba dropped all cases
      against Tembo at a meeting held three weeks ago but Chakuamba is
      reported to have taken his vice by surprise when he reminded him to
      account for the party's quarterly allocations from parliament.

      Tembo was collecting the money in his capacity as Leader of
      Opposition before he was expelled from Parliament on contempt of
      court charges.

      Tembo retaliated by ordering that Chakuamba's faction, through
      Masauli account for rental fees collected since the two leaders parted

      "I will account for the funds I obtained from parliament on condition
      you [Chakuamba faction] account for rentals collected from our offices
      at Chichiri and Clock Tower," Tembo is reported to have challenged.

      The source said this issue might split the party further.

      "Hon. Chakuamba is a very cunning person, he asked Tembo to sign
      a treaty that would see the two factions unite by promising to drop
      cases against him. Now Chakuamba is breaking the promise by
      pressing Tembo to account for the parliamentary fund allocation to
      MCP. This would be the bone of contention and would divide the party
      again," he warned.

      Masauli said in an interview that he has not yet been approached
      officially on the issue.

      He however, challenged Tembo that he is the one to produce a
      financial report.

      "I will produce the report, that is not a problem. It's my job, if
      thought that I was not doing my job, I can challenge them," said

      MCP publicity secretary Nicholas Dausi told The Malawi Standard in
      an earlier interview that Tembo would be given a chance to explain in
      details on how he used the funds.

      "MCP gets K1.4 million after every three months from Parliament
      since Tembo was elected Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, in
      June 2001, he has never been transparent nor accountable to the

      Neither the president nor the treasurer general know how Tembo used
      the money," Dausi said.

      Dausi explained that the party president, Gwanda Chakuamba,
      expects Tembo to give back the money or face justice.

      "Party funds are public funds and therefore anybody who embezzles
      them should face the long arm of the law. Tembo is not above the law
      and would not be spared should he fail to account for the money, he
      would be treated just like any other person who misappropriate public
      funds," Dausi explained.

      Dausi said there are other measures that would be taken against
      Tembo and the party president would announce them at the

      "I cannot speculate some of the measures now because the
      information is classified at the mean time," he said.

      Cash strapped and highly indebted MCP has been relying on funds
      from Parliament to meet administrative costs like payment of staff

      Speaker of the National Assembly, Sam Mpasu, said he is waiting for
      a report from the Auditor General's office.

      "The procedure is that the Auditor General should present a report on
      how parties utilize their quarterly funding and if an individual or a
      misappropriated the funds they will be held responsible," he said.

      But the party's deputy secretary general, Steve Ching'ang'a, disclosed
      in an interview that the two factions of Chakuamba and Tembo agreed
      to account for the money according to a clause in the party's

      He however said it might take time for the two sides to produce
      accounts reports, saying it is not that easy.

      On Tembo, Ching'ang'a said: "I believe that Tembo used the money in
      good faith and that he would be able to account for it,"

      Ching'ang'a said he is hopeful that Tembo will come up with a report
      before Parliament requests for it.

      And commenting on the issue, Member of Parliament for Nsanje
      South West Maclean Ndafakale says Tembo should indeed explain
      how he used the funding that government through Parliament was
      allocating to the Malawi Congress Party.

      "The money from Parliament was not his personal income so he must
      account for it," said Ndafakale.

      He also snubbed what he described as the "so called unity with hidden
      agenda" between Chakuamba and Tembo saying that both of them
      are cheating each other.

      "Why are they forming an alliance after Tembo has been convicted?
      Why did Chakuamba press the courts to jail Tembo if he really likes
      Tembo. There is a very big sinister plot which will be uncovered
      said Ndafakale in an interview with The Malawi Standard.

      He said time is ripe now that Chakuamba and Tembo should start
      respecting the wishes of the people. He said that now that the
      of Members of Parliament and members of the party would like Ntaba
      to be leader of the opposition Chakuamba and Tembo should respect

      "People should respect people's choice of Ntaba as their leader of the
      opposition and if the same people are saying that I should deputize
      Ntaba, our leaders should respect that," said Ndafakale.

      He observed that MCP needs new leadership with new vision which
      should overhaul the party as it prepares for the 2004 general

      But MCP Vice President John Tembo told The Malawi Standard soon
      after the party's National Executive Committee meeting at Lilongwe
      Hotel that he does not have time to answer questions on financial

      "I have no time to answer questions about MCP's financial issues. I
      was here (Lilongwe Hotel) for unity talks,"

      Asked if the party will take Tembo to task during their forthcoming
      convention slated for April for the money he is alleged to have
      misappropriated when he was leader of the opposition, Kanjere said
      the NEC meeting has agreed to burry the past.

      But Ndafakale said for sake of transparency and accountability the
      issue will be raised at their convention, which he said will be
      by many people not just 24 members of the National Executive


      Government Restricts Bulk Maize Sale

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
      January 22, 2003
      Posted to the web January 22, 2003

      Standard Reporter

      The Malawi Government has restricted the sales of commercial maize
      in bulk at a subsidised price of K17 per kilogramme to public
      institutions only according to Secretary for Agriculture and
      Hendrina Mchiela.

      Mchiela says that the maize would only be sold to public schools,
      public hospitals and health centres and prisons.

      " Public schools, public hospitals and health centres and prisons have
      been given concession to purchase maize in bulk at a subsidized
      price of K17.00/kg. The government wishes to remind those public
      institutions wishing to purchase the commercial maize in bulk to
      forward their requests through their parent ministries who will obtain
      clearance from the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation," she says.

      The government will spend K3 billion subsidising maize, which will
      at K17 per kilogramme instead of the market price of K30 per

      President Bakili Muluzi told Parliament when he opened the 36th
      session of the House in October, 2002 that he wanted to ensure that
      maize was accessible to people who needed it most.

      Besides the 28,000 metric tonnes of carry-over maize, there is also
      250,000 metric tonnes of commercial maize being imported through
      the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) with European Union

      Meanwhile, the Agriculture Development and Marketing Corporation
      (ADMARC) has said more maize selling points will be opened in a bid
      to contain the famine.

      ADMARC general manager, Evans Chipala, said more selling points
      will be established once demand for the staple grain picks up.

      Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the World Food
      Programme (WFP) team, which recently toured the whole country,
      collecting information, estimated that by March this year, about 3.2
      million people would require food aid.

      It has been estimated that approximately 208,124 metric tonnes of
      maize will be required for the 3.2 million poor people needing
      assistance while the shortfall in food production this year is
      at 600,000 metric tonnes.

      The World Bank is to provide K4.4 billion (US $50 million) as
      emergency food aid funds. Out of the total, K2.5 billion (US $29
      million) is a loan.
    • 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.


        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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