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  • Christine Chumbler
    Third-term protests broken up in Malawi Police in Malawi have fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators angry at proposals to let President Bakili Muluzi run
    Message 1 of 1046 , Jan 28, 2003
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      'Third-term' protests
      broken up in Malawi

      Police in Malawi have fired tear gas to disperse
      demonstrators angry at proposals to let
      President Bakili Muluzi run for a third term in
      office.

      Some 2,000 people marched in the commercial
      capital, Blantyre, before the protest was
      broken up, according to Reuters news agency.

      In Lilongwe, parliament
      has started an
      emergency debate over
      a proposed change to
      the constitution to let
      Mr Muluzi contest
      elections scheduled for
      2004.

      The current constitution only allows presidents
      to serve two terms.

      A similar bill was narrowly defeated by
      parliament last year.

      Knives and stones

      Some 15 people were arrested by the police
      and two people were taken to hospital,
      Reuters reports.

      Some of the protesters carried placards
      reading "Muluzi leave Malawi in peace".

      Monday's protests
      were organised by a
      coalition of Christian
      groups, civic
      organisations and
      political parties.

      Some Muslim groups
      have backed the
      proposals to let Mr
      Muluzi stand again.

      Supporters of Mr
      Muluzi armed with
      knives and stones
      were also planning to march, reports the
      French news agency, AFP.

      Police said they fired tear gas to prevent
      clashes between the rival groups.

      'No threat'

      Following a wave of anti third-term protests
      last year, Mr Muluzi banned public
      demonstrations on the issue.

      Justice Minister Henry
      Phoya denied that the
      new bill threatened
      democracy, as he
      introduced it.

      "It does not mean the
      incumbent president
      will be the next
      president because
      there will be free and
      fair elections and the
      majority of people can
      vote him out."

      Mr Muluzi's United Democratic Front has 95
      MPs and needs an extra 28 votes from the
      opposition for the two-thirds majority needed
      to change the constitution.

      *****

      Scuffles Delay Decision On Muluzi Third Term

      UN Integrated Regional Information
      Networks
      January 28, 2003
      Posted to the web January 28, 2003

      Johannesburg

      Debate on a proposed constitutional amendment which would allow
      President Bakili Muluzi to run for a third term has been deferred
      indefinitely
      following scuffles outside and inside parliament on Tuesday.

      Sources in the capital told IRIN there was a heavy police presence
      around
      parliament, where police had to fire teargas at protestors on Monday.

      Debate on the proposed amendment had to be postponed for the first
      time
      on Monday following clashes in Lilongwe and Blantyre between police,
      pro-third term protestors and anti-third term protestors.

      Muluzi had earlier banned all protests around the issue.

      When debate resumed in parliament on Tuesday, an eyewitness in the
      chamber told IRIN the atmosphere was charged. So much so that scuffles
      broke out on the steps of parliament, a clergyman was apparently
      beaten,
      and inside parliamentary chambers. A ruling party MP was reportedly
      injured inside chambers.

      He said: "It was clear the ruling party was going to lose again. Soon
      after
      [the scuffle inside parliament] the minister of justice announced that
      they
      had decided to refer the debate to a special legal affairs committee
      of
      parliament, to look at comments that had come from the opposition and
      the ruling party.

      "Later on the attorney-general was briefing reporters outside [saying]
      that
      there was no time-frame when it [the amendment bill] would come back
      to
      parliament."

      It was uncertain in what guise, if at all, the bill would return to
      parliament as
      the legal affairs committee was chaired by an anti-third term
      opposition
      MP.

      Donors, on whose development aid Malawi depends heavily, have warned
      Muluzi against amending the constitution and trying to hold on to
      power.

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

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

      Civic organisations and church groups have rallied in opposition to
      the
      proposed third term amendment, said Nicholas Mkwabata of Public
      Affairs
      Committee, a lobby group constituted by churches.

      He told IRIN there was widespread opposition to another term for
      Muluzi.
      The group had organised protests and was lobbying heavily against the
      amendment bill.

      The ruling United Democratic Front had caught opposition and civil
      society
      off-guard with the surprise tabling for the bill for debate in an
      emergency
      session of parliament.

      "We did not know this bill was going to be tabled, so yesterday
      [Monday]
      most of the opposition members of parliament were hoping they could
      get
      to vote [against it]. But the vote was delayed," Mkwabata told IRIN.

      *****

      Spectre of Famine Still Looms for Fragile Malawi, UN
      Envoy Warns

      United Nations (New York)
      January 27, 2003
      Posted to the web January 28, 2003

      New York

      The United Nations top humanitarian envoy for southern Africa has
      warned
      that the food security situation in Malawi remains fragile and slight
      gains
      made to avert famine could be easily eroded by a combination of
      HIV/AIDS,
      late rains and floods.

      Continuing his week-long, five-nation mission in southern Africa,
      James
      Morris, Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Envoy for Humanitarian
      Needs in the region, said yesterday that despite rapid response from
      the
      international community, the crisis is "far from over and the
      situation
      remains so fragile that gains could be easily eroded." HIV/AIDS, late
      rains
      and floods are threatening this year's upcoming harvest, placing
      millions of
      people at risk of starvation.

      The envoy, who travelled to one of the worst flood-affected districts
      during
      his visit to Malawi, said that along with the converging HIV/AIDS and
      hunger
      crises, floods earlier this month caused by Cyclone Delfina wreaked
      havoc
      throughout the country, destroying hundreds of acres of desperately
      needed maize, the staple food. More than 30,000 people were displaced
      by
      the floods, which also caused significant damage to roads, bridges and
      railway lines.

      Mr. Morris said that at the root of the humanitarian crisis in Malawi,
      along
      with erratic weather and chronic poverty, "is the HIV/AIDS pandemic,
      which
      is threatening the lives and livelihoods of millions of people." About
      14 per
      cent of the country's population is infected with HIV, the virus that
      causes
      AIDS. The virus worsens the effects that famine has on people due to
      their
      weakened immune systems.

      *****

      Accusations Against Malawian Truckers

      Agencia de Informacao de
      Mocambique (Maputo)
      January 21, 2002
      Posted to the web January 24, 2003

      Maputo

      Tete (Mozambique), 24 Jan (AIM) - The Mozambican police have
      accused Malawian truck drivers of illegally selling fuel along the
      main
      road from Zimbabwe to Malawi, which runs through the middle of the
      western Mozambican province of Tete.

      The Tete police say that at night the truckers remove fuel from the
      tanks of their own vehicles and sell it. There is a market for the
      fuel
      along the Tete corridor, since the Malawians sell it at cheaper prices
      than motorists can buy fuel from authorised distributors.

      Thus the Malawian drivers are accused of swindling their own
      companies, and of unfair competition with legal fuel distributors.

      The police have cracked down on this activity. According to the Tete
      provincial police commander, Jose Mapilele, a police operation along
      the corridor resulted in the seizure of 2,525 litres of diesel, and
      279
      litres of petrol.

      He promised that this year the police will step up the battle against
      illegal sales of fuel. The objective, he said, was "to put an end to
      this
      evil once and for all, in defence of the Mozambican economy".

      *****

      Terror warnings cripple Zanzibar
      Alex Ortolani | Zanzibar

      27
      January 2003 10:20

      A terrorist warning issued by the United States,
      British and
      Australian governments has hampered the tourism
      trade in
      the popular beach resort of Zanzibar, comprising
      Unguja
      (Zanzibar Island) and Pemba Island.

      Zanzibar's economy, which once relied heavily on
      clove
      exports, is now bolstered by a foreign tourism
      trade that
      brings in thousands of travellers every year.

      On January 11 the US State Department cautioned
      visitors
      about an attack on an unspecified location
      frequented by tourists in
      Zanzibar, citing markets, bars and nightclubs as
      areas to avoid. The
      message followed a general warning for travellers
      in East Africa about
      "continuing potential for terrorist actions,
      including kidnapping", issued more
      than one month after a car bomb killed 14 in the
      coastal city of Mombasa,
      Kenya.

      The British government followed the US by
      cautioning tourists that an
      "international terrorist group" might be
      planning an attack on Zanzibar. The
      Australian government likewise recommended
      "extreme caution" to travellers
      just months after the Bali blasts took numerous
      Australian lives.

      No country has directly ordered tourists or foreign
      nationals to evacuate the
      islands.

      The warnings have left many restaurant tables, tour
      bus seats and hotel
      rooms empty on the islands during a peak tourist
      season that runs from
      November through February, said Issa Mlingoti,
      director for tourism, planning
      and development at Zanzibar's Commission for
      Tourism.

      "There have been numerous cancellations in all
      sectors of the tourism
      industry," Mlingoti said. "It's a big
      challenge for us. For the time being we
      can only increase security and wait it out."

      The commission sent a letter to tour operators in
      the area giving details of
      how to increase security and make patrons feel
      secure, said Mlingoti. It
      includes putting guards at entrances to check bags,
      making sure all guests
      sign in with appropriate documentation and
      preventing cars from parking
      near public places.

      "We do not have the power to tell tourists
      'Stay, do not go back home'," he
      said. "We cannot override the decision of their
      governments, though we feel
      Zanzibar is as safe as ever."

      Khamis Ayub, of Links Tours & Travel in Zanzibar
      Town, said the warning
      had hit particularly hard because of its timing.

      "It came during the first [month] of the year,
      right when we have a number of
      expenses to be met," Ayub said. "We need to pay
      insurance, taxes and our
      tour guide operators at this time, and now there is
      very little money coming
      in."

      Ayub said his company would usually be catering for
      between 20 and 25
      tourists a day. Two days after the warnings those
      numbers had dropped
      from about six to zero. "At this rate we might
      have to close up the office
      early in the season," Ayub said.

      The fear of terrorist attacks has also hit the
      hotel industry. Some are
      resorting to bringing prices down to low-season
      rates, though that is doing
      little to bring in new customers.

      Hotel Marine Zanzibar manager HR Kijiba sifted
      through a stack of printed
      e-mails from travel agents cancelling tour groups
      from Britain and Australia.

      "We should have a hotel with 20 full rooms,"
      Kijiba said. "Instead, right now,
      we only have two. What can we do? No amount of
      advertising will take away
      people's fear."

      Some well-tanned backpackers could still be seen
      wandering about Stone
      Town's winding streets and colourful shops.

      British traveller Emma Richardson did not let the
      warnings spoil her overland
      trip through Africa. She said her tour group was
      told about the warnings a
      few days before reaching Dar es Salaam.

      "They gave us the choice to stay on in Dar if we
      did not want to risk going to
      Zanzibar," Richardson said. "I did not even
      think of not coming. In fact, it
      made me more adamant to come and enjoy the
      island."

      Abraham Mussa, a taxi driver on the island, spoke
      from the hood of his
      vehicle while eyeing the pristine blue of the
      ocean. "Where is Osama [bin
      Laden]?" Mussa asked. "I don't know. You
      don't. No one does. I wish he
      were in Zanzibar. Then I would find him, hand him
      over to [US President
      George W] Bush and get back to driving my taxi."


      *****

      Abuse spreads HIV
      among Zambian girls

      Girls in Zambia are five times more likely to be
      infected with the HIV virus than their male
      counterparts due to widespread sexual abuse,
      a human rights organisation has reported.

      New York-based Human
      Rights Watch described
      in its report - entitled
      Suffering in Silence -
      how young girls who
      suffer abuse often
      experience it whilst in
      the hands of an elder or
      a guardian who is
      supposed to protect
      them.

      It says girls are also often raped on long walks
      to school, or abused by teachers.

      Others, orphaned as a result of Zambia's high
      rate of HIV infection, are forced to become
      prostitutes or to form sexual relationships with
      much older men.

      Authorities condemned

      The organisation condemned Zambian police
      and authorities for often being insensitive and
      ineffective in enforcing anti-sexual abuse laws
      in Zambia, leading to girls being reluctant to
      report any such abuse.

      "Young girls are preyed upon by older men,
      including those who dare call themselves
      guardians or caretakers of these girls, and the
      government fails to protect them," Washington
      director for HRW Africa Division Janet
      Fleischman said.

      The organisation warns that attacks on girls -
      some as young as eight-years-old - are now
      so common that unless the Zambian
      Government begins to address the issue little
      will be achieved in the fight against HIV and
      Aids.

      It called for better training for police and court
      officials regarding the issue of sexual abuse
      and said those who commit such offences
      should be vigorously prosecuted.

      And the organisation also said that money the
      Zambian Government will soon receive from the
      Global Health Fund should be spent on
      strengthening support networks for victims.

      An estimated 21.5% of Zambia's adult
      population is infected with HIV, the virus which
      causes Aids, and about 120,000 children are
      also thought to be infected.

      *****

      Hungry Zambians loot rejected GM food
      Lusaka

      28
      January 2003 15:55

      An estimated 6 000 Zambian villagers overpowered an
      armed policeman and
      looted food aid consisting largely of maize
      rejected by the government
      because it was genetically modified, police said on
      Tuesday.

      Southern Province Minister George Mpombo said 4 600
      50-kilogramme bags
      of GM and non-GM staple maize were stolen at the
      weekend in
      Sizanongwe, 300 kilometres from the capital.

      He said starving villagers overpowered the lone
      policeman after word went
      round that the maize was to be returned to Lusaka.

      Despite the threat of starvation that faces more
      than two million Zambians,
      Zambia has imposed an outright ban on GM food aid.

      Southern Province is the region hardest hit by
      famine in Zambia. The
      villagers also got away with beans, seed maize and
      scales donated by an
      international relief agency World Vision.

      Some traditional chiefs in the area supported the
      villagers' action, accusing
      the government of neglecting the people in the
      worst famine-stricken areas
      where people were surviving on wild fruits and
      plants. - Sapa-AFP

      *****

      US tells its citizens to consider leaving
      Zimbabwe
      Washington
      28
      January 2003 10:10

      The United States on Monday warned US citizens of
      the risk of travelling to
      Zimbabwe amid ongoing political, economic and
      humanitarian crises and
      said Americans in the country now should consider
      leaving.

      "Zimbabwe is in the midst of political, economic
      and humanitarian crises
      with serious implications for the security
      situation in the country," the State
      Department said.

      "All US citizens in Zimbabwe are urged to take
      those measures they deem
      appropriate to ensure their well-being, including
      consideration of departure
      from the country," it said in a statement.

      The statement noted increased crime and lawlessness
      due to a "precipitous
      decline" in Zimbabwe's economy that has sent the
      unemployment and
      inflation rates soaring.

      In addition, it said existing food shortages could
      result in famine which
      would, in turn, lead to general unrest and a
      further deterioration of the
      security situation. - Sapa-AFP

      *****

      Zimbabwe police probe 'church reporters'
      Harare

      27
      January 2003 11:23

      Five foreigners suspected of being undercover
      journalists reporting on
      Zimbabwe's hunger crisis have been picked up for
      questioning by police,
      representative Wayne Bvudzijena said on Sunday.

      He said the five were picked up in Zvishavane, a
      mining town in the
      drought-hit south of the country, along with a
      journalist from a local daily
      newspaper. Under Zimbabwe's strict press laws it is
      illegal for journalists to
      work without accreditation from a government
      commission. The government
      accuses a hostile international media of trying to
      undermine it.

      Bvudzijena said the five, whose passports indicated
      they were journalists,
      had been allowed to return to their hotel while
      investigations continued.
      "We're convinced that they're not aid workers,"
      Bvudzijena said.

      One of those arrested, Kathleen Kastilahn, told AFP
      via telephone from
      Zvishavane that she was merely reporting for a
      church magazine.

      Their group was picked up on Friday evening and
      questioned by police,
      Kastilahn said. "They think we're here to do
      clandestine journalism," she
      said. "We're here to tell the story for our
      churches."

      Kastilahn said she and her five colleagues had been
      invited by the Lutheran
      World Federation Development Services to tour
      projects in the area and hold
      meetings with churches.

      Among those arrested is Zimbabwean journalist
      Fanuel Jongwe of the
      privately owned Daily News newspaper. The others
      include two Germans --
      one a freelance photographer -- a representative of
      Finnish Church Aid and a
      Kenyan coordinator for the Lutheran Development
      Services.

      Jongwe said they had been told they were being
      arrested under the Public
      Order and Security Act and were due to have
      statements recorded by police
      on Monday.

      "We have been told not to leave the hotel," he
      added. In an earlier report the
      state-controlled Sunday Mail claimed that five
      suspected journalists and a
      Zimbabwean reporter from a local daily had been
      arrested and were in police
      custody. The five were posing as aid workers but
      had been "sent into the
      country to secretly write stories aimed at
      tarnishing the image of the
      government," the paper claimed.

      The Zimbabwe government and aid agencies are
      currently distributing
      emergency food aid to some of the estimated
      eight-million of Zimbabwe's
      11,6-million people threatened by famine.

      Since a tough new press law came into effect last
      year, at least 12
      journalists have been arrested and two foreign
      correspondents told to leave
      the country.

      Foreign journalists are allowed into Zimbabwe for
      short periods of time, but
      must apply for accreditation before they arrive. -
      Sapa-AFP

      *****

      EU to decide on Mugabe
      trip

      European Union foreign ministers are deciding
      whether to renew sanctions against the
      government of Zimbabwe's President Robert
      Mugabe at a meeting in Brussels on Monday.

      The measures include a travel ban on senior
      government figures, but France has invited Mr
      Mugabe to a Franco-African summit in Paris
      next month, angering several countries.

      France argues that EU sanctions against
      Zimbabwe allow officials to attend meetings in
      Europe if the focus is on human rights and
      democracy.

      Britain and a number of other countries -
      including Sweden and the Netherlands - want
      to keep Mr Mugabe out.

      Concern has also been growing about England's
      World Cup cricket match due to be played in
      Zimbabwe, after players received letters
      threatening violence at the game.

      At a press conference on Monday, the England
      team asked for the 13 February match against
      Zimbabwe to be moved to South Africa.

      It is the first time the players have said they
      do not want to play in Zimbabwe. s

      The EU travel ban, along with a freeze on Mr
      Mugabe's assets, was imposed last February as
      violence flared in the run-up to a presidential
      election which was later widely condemned as
      unfair.

      Compromise?

      Supporters of sanctions fear that if the
      Zimbabwean leader is prevented from travelling
      to Paris, France will allow the entire sanctions
      regime to lapse.

      Sanctions are due to
      expire on 18 February,
      just one day before
      the Franco-African
      summit begins.

      France argues other
      African nations would
      boycott the summit if
      Mr Mugabe is not
      invited.

      There were already
      concerns about Mr
      Mugabe attending an
      EU-Africa summit in April before the latest
      dilemma arose.

      This had led to some EU members seeking a
      compromise that would have seen Zimbabwe's
      Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge attend the
      summit in Lisbon in his place - although the
      minister would also need a travel waiver.
    • Christine Chumbler
      ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17 The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22 8:06 AM
      • 0 Attachment

        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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