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  • Christine Chumbler
    Drought drives on Malawi s killer lions A pride of lions terrorising people in central Malawi have killed four people, bringing to nine the total number they
    Message 1 of 1046 , Jan 24, 2003
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      Drought drives on
      Malawi's killer lions

      A pride of lions terrorising people in central
      Malawi have killed four people, bringing to nine
      the total number they have killed since
      Christmas.

      They are said to be seeking alternative food
      sources because of the toll the drought in the
      region is having on wildlife.

      Efforts to contain the lions since they escaped
      from a game park are proving futile.

      Police spokesman George Chikowi said the hunt
      for the lions was still on, when he confirmed
      the death of the latest victims.

      "Game rangers, armed with guns, have been
      deployed to the area," he said.

      Fear

      A senior government official in the district,
      Charles Kaliwo, said when game rangers were
      alerted to news of the latest victims on
      Thursday night they could only find the leg of
      one of the victims and four pools of blood.

      A trail of blood led into
      the bushes.

      Local resident John
      Banda told me the
      lions attacks had been
      taking place both
      during the day and at
      night.

      He said people were so
      afraid that agricultural
      activities were
      becoming seriously disrupted.

      He added that advice not to wander about
      alone did not seem to be working.

      "It is not helping any more to move in groups
      since the lions do not seem to fear groups," he
      said.

      Wildlife officials believe the lions went astray
      from Kasungu National Park and Nkhota Kota
      Game Reserve following the theft of protective
      wire fences by local residents.

      They also believe the beasts had run out of
      food in both the park and the game reserve
      since the current drought has made grazing
      grass scarce, forcing small animals like deers
      and gazelles - the lions' natural prey - to
      migrate further afield.

      The lions' alternative is to hunt humans and
      their docile livestock.

      *****

      Mugabe accepts French
      invite

      Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has
      accepted an invitation from France to take
      part in a summit of African heads of state in
      Paris in February.

      "We were invited and we accepted," Foreign
      Affairs Senior Secretary Willard Chiwewe told
      the state-run Herald daily.

      Mr Mugabe is currently banned from entering
      the European Union because of doubts about
      the legitimacy of his re-election last year.

      Zimbabwe's opposition
      has called the invitation
      to the long-standing
      ruler a tragedy.

      But French President
      Jacques Chirac was
      convinced that the
      Zimbabwean leader's presence at the summit
      would help promote justice, human rights and
      democracy in his country, French Foreign
      Ministry spokesman Francois Rivasseau told
      journalists.

      The EU travel ban, along with a freeze on Mr
      Mugabe's assets, was imposed last February.
      The UK Government will seek to renew it at a
      meeting of EU foreign ministers next week.

      If the sanctions are not extended, Mr Mugabe
      will be able to attend the summit on 19
      February - the day after they expire.

      Correspondents say that France sees itself as
      Africa's best friend on the international stage.

      It recently extended a $3m grant to help some
      eight million people in need of food aid in
      Zimbabwe.

      Correspondents say that as relations between
      the UK and Zimbabwe have deteriorated,
      France has been moving closer to Mr Mugabe's
      government.

      Mr Rivasseau said France understood the
      "emotion and indignation" of the British over
      the visit but added that no sanctions would be
      broken.

      'Affront'

      Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for
      Democratic Change (MDC) has condemned the
      French offer.

      "Any avenue granted to Mugabe to attend
      international meetings at which he is treated
      as a statesman and an equal is an affront to
      the feelings of the people of Zimbabwe," said
      MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

      "It amounts to a
      recognition and
      support of Mugabe's
      gruesome record at
      home."

      UK Government
      minister Peter Hain
      said: "As far as we are
      concerned he is not
      welcome in Europe.

      "Our views on his
      odious regime and the
      way he is devastating
      his country are well known.

      "I am sure the French share that view."

      But British Member of the European Parliament
      Glenys Kinnock said the UK was considering
      doing a deal to let Mr Mugabe attend the
      Franco-African summit.

      London might allow the Paris visit to happen in
      return for an assurance that Mr Mugabe will
      not be invited to the EU-Africa summit in
      Portugal in May, she said.

      *****

      Zimbabwe's French
      connection

      By Henri Astier
      BBC News Online

      The decision by French President Jacques
      Chirac to invite Robert Mugabe to a
      Franco-African summit in Paris in February has
      angered those across Europe who want
      Zimbabwe's president to remain an
      international pariah.

      Last year the EU banned Mr
      Mugabe from travelling to
      Europe, after a Zimbabwean
      presidential election marred
      by violence and fraud.

      The sanctions formally
      expire the day before
      the Paris conference.

      Critics - mainly in Britain - suspect Mr Chirac's
      invitation is motivated by France's
      long-standing tradition of wielding influence in
      Africa by supporting the continent's tyrants.

      French officials, for their part, insist they are
      consulting their European partners and only
      seek to promote democracy in Zimbabwe.

      Neither the French nor their critics have it
      entirely right.

      Changing tack

      France has moved on since the bad old days of
      the post-colonial networks - when Paris
      considered French-speaking Africa as its
      backyard.

      The French backed
      single-party
      dictatorships and
      helped local elites
      plunder the resources
      of client states.

      Such policies were discredited by the
      Rwandan genocide of 1994, planned and
      committed by French proteges.

      Both politically and financially - spheres of
      influence are expensive - France could not
      afford to continue.

      In recent years its African policy has
      focused on finding new friends outside the
      cosy world of French-speaking allies.

      The country's main trading partners in
      Africa are now Nigeria, Angola and South
      Africa.

      French-speaking countries account for
      less than 1% of total French trade,
      according to Pascal Chaigneau, director of
      the Centre for Diplomatic and Strategic
      Studies in Paris.

      And France is keen
      to expand trading
      relations.

      In recent years Paris
      has made a point of
      welcoming all of the
      continent's leaders
      to French-African
      summits.

      The overture to Mr
      Mugabe must be
      understood in this
      context.

      French officials point out that invitation
      cards had gone out to every single African
      leader, and it would have been wrong to
      single Mr Mugabe out.

      Another point to bear in mind is that the
      main momentum for removing - or at
      least softening - the sanctions against Mr
      Mugabe comes from Africa itself.

      "About 15 African states have been
      aggressively lobbying the French to make
      sure Mugabe is invited," Mr Chaigneau told
      BBC News Online.

      Wishful thinking

      It seems then that flattery may have
      played a significant part in the invitation.

      France will be being told by Mr Mugabe's
      African allies that it could be the honest
      broker needed to resolve Zimbabwe's
      crisis.

      The French government seems genuinely
      to believe that Mr Chirac can succeed
      where the UK Government and the
      Commonwealth have failed.

      "We are having a political dialogue which
      has the purpose of promoting democracy,
      human rights and law in Zimbabwe,"
      French foreign ministry spokesman
      Francois Rivasseau said.

      Of course, this may be wishful thinking.

      The last time Mr Mugabe officially came to
      Europe he met President Chirac.

      That was in March 2001, and the impact
      of any advice Mr Mugabe received from
      his French host then about democracy
      and the rule of law appears to have been
      negligible.

      France may not be up to its old
      post-colonial tricks in Zimbabwe - but the
      fresh invitation to Mr Mugabe can hardly
      be called a foreign policy triumph.
    • 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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