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  • Christine Chumbler
    Mammoth Crowds March in Support of Third Term Malawi Standard (Blantyre) January 31, 2003 Posted to the web January 31, 2003 Tusekele Mwanyongo Blantyre,
    Message 1 of 1046 , Feb 3, 2003
      Mammoth Crowds March in Support of Third Term

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
      January 31, 2003
      Posted to the web January 31, 2003

      Tusekele Mwanyongo
      Blantyre, Malawi

      Over 20,000 United Democratic Front (UDF) supporters took to the
      streets
      in Malawi's commercial city of Blantyre on Friday to demonstrate their
      solidarity to the wishes of most Malawians that the Constitution should
      be
      changed so as to allow President Bakili Muluzi run for the third term
      of
      office.

      The highly patronised demonstrations comes barely three days after
      Malawi's Justice Minister Henry Phoya announced in Parliament that he
      had referred the Third Term Bill to the Parliamentary Legal Affairs
      Committee to iron out some technical problems, which are in the
      proposed
      Third Term Bill.

      The demonstration by thousands of people
      started from Upper Stadium at Chichiri down
      to Blantyre City Centre. During the march, pro
      third term demonstrators carried placards
      which boldly read: Third Term For Muluzi,"
      Muluzi: Free Primary Education", "Muluzi:
      Boreholes", "We want Muluzi, we want more
      development", "Muluzi, God-fearing and
      development-conscious", just to mention but a
      few.

      One of the demonstrators, Pastor Victor Kachopwa, said the peaceful
      demonstration was aimed at consolidating the party's unanimous stand
      to
      retain Muluzi as the party's 2004 presidential candidate.

      The Constitution just provides for two five-year terms of office,
      which
      proponents of Third Term says is not good because it restricts good
      Presidents from serving their people.

      Kachopya, who is also Treasurer for UDF Blantyre Urban Committee, said
      that it is UDF's strong conviction that democracy means that people's
      wishes need to be respected.

      "It is in this vain that we are freely expressing our views here. We
      expect
      parliamentarians to note our concern and when they meet to reconsider
      the Bill to allow another term for the President, they should strive
      to
      represent the majority view.

      A Blantyre South West constituency member, Mary Banda, concurred with
      Kachopya that other people with a different view from that of the UDF
      should not stop the UDF from expressing their view.

      "After all, what we are doing (demonstration) is not very important, as
      we
      believe in winning at polls. We expect opponents of the third term to
      meet
      us at the polls. We can promise a strong crushing," she said.

      Another lady demonstrator, Patricia Matola could not hide her love for
      the
      President and the UDF. She said she has bitter memories of the MCP
      regime brutality and would not want to see the prevailing tranquillity
      under
      the Muluzi rule.

      "I was brutally beaten at Chileka Airport when I was among the people
      who
      waited for the former President, Dr. Kamuzu Banda's remains when some
      MCP thugs approached and manhandled me," she revealed, shouting
      "ayimenso!" (He should stand again).

      Other people that added their voice included a constituency member in
      Blantyre City South West, Emily Soko and Kwera Muata, the renowned
      Ndirande township man, who follows Muluzi everywhere, histing the
      President's portrait.

      Soko and Muata said the President is the people's darling and that a
      few
      Malawians should not mislead the nation with constitutional
      propaganda.
      They said the constitution of Malawi is a document that was coined by
      the
      people of this country.

      "It is people of this country who can also change that document," they
      said.

      Muata wondered why some people are blocking the change of the
      constitution as he said noone from elsewhere would do that for us.

      Last Monday about 1 000 anti-third term demonstrators also marched on
      Monday.

      *****

      Villagers Opt Not to Sleep for Fear of 'Bloodsuckers'

      African Church Information Service
      February 3, 2003
      Posted to the web January 31, 2003

      Hamilton Vokhiwa
      Blantyre

      Malawi Government is at pains to allay fears in one of the country's
      major
      tea growing areas in Thyolo district, where villagers are spending
      sleepless nights following reports of alleged vampires said to be
      trading
      human blood for maize.

      The villagers have been quoted saying that unidentified people were
      invading their houses at night with hand sprays to suffocate
      occupants.

      The bloodsuckers, according to the villagers,
      would then enter through the windows or
      rooftops to suck blood. The police have,
      however, brushed aside the reports as
      hearsay.

      Recently in Thyolo district, three Catholic
      priests were attacked by villagers who
      demanded to know what they were doing in
      the area at dusk.

      Their car was smashed by the irate villagers on suspicion that they
      were
      on a blood-sucking mission. They were saved from being lynched by a
      few
      villagers who recognised them as clergymen.

      A senior official of the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) was also
      attacked by a mob in a suburban township of Manase, five kilometers
      from
      Blantyre city centre.

      The official, Erick Chiwaya, who is the party's district governor for
      Blantyre,
      was hospitalised after the mob assaulted him on accusation that he
      invited
      vampires to collect blood from the township. He denied any
      involvement.

      There has so far been no evidence to back up the bizarre rumour of
      vampires, which first surfaced in Thyolo district early in the year.

      The police have charged a journalist, Maganizo Mazeze, from a
      community radio station MIJ 90.3 FM in connection with the story. His
      case
      is in court as he awaits trial on March 4.

      There is widespread belief among rural communities in the district
      that
      some international organisations were working with the government to
      force them to give their blood in exchange for food.

      Members of the public including those from the affected Thyolo
      district
      denied suggestions that the reports were mere hearsay or superstitious
      belief, saying they had full evidence.

      President Bakili Muluzi has dismissed the claims against his
      government.

      Political and traditional leaders in the Mulanje and Thyolo districts,
      have
      mounted a big public relations exercise with the police to try to
      convince
      villagers in the affected areas that there was no truth in reports
      that
      vampires were after their blood.

      *****

      Zimbabwe Trial Begins With Arrests

      By Angus Shaw
      Associated Press Writer
      Monday, February 3, 2003; 5:59 AM

      HARARE, Zimbabwe ** Police used batons to beat
      back
      foreign diplomats and journalists trying to get into
      the
      long-awaited trial of an opposition leader that was
      to begin
      Monday.

      Morgan Tsvangirai and two senior party colleagues
      are
      accused with plotting to kill President Robert
      Mugabe. They
      deny the charges, and could face the death penalty
      if
      convicted.

      Before the trial was to begin, police with batons
      cleared the
      court's entrance, striking out at reporters,
      opposition
      lawmakers and scores of their supporters.

      Police said the courtroom was full, but lawyers
      inside said the public benches were virtually empty.
      Opposition leaders said Tsvangirai's lawyers planned
      to protest.

      "This is a public place and it is supposed to be a
      public court. Obviously the state has something to
      hide," said opposition lawmaker Priscilla
      Misihairabwi. Police pushed her away with riot clubs held
      across their chests.

      Ish Mufandikwa, a freelance journalist, and several
      other people were arrested on the street outside the
      court.

      Angry police in blue paramilitary uniforms yelled at
      German deputy chief of mission Jan Van Thief to get
      away as he showed his diplomatic identity pass.

      "You are no longer a diplomat. We will get you," one
      policeman shouted over the chaos. Western
      diplomats said they planned to protest to the
      foreign ministry.

      A plain clothes security agent, dressed in jeans,
      sneakers and a straw hat and carrying a pistol and riot
      stick, ordered police to clear the main street at
      the court.

      "We don't allow anyone to enter. This is not a
      parliament," the man said.

      Reporters from the state media were allowed into the
      building, but others who waited for 2½ hours at
      the court entrance said few people were admitted
      earlier other than court staff.

      U.S. Ambassador Joseph Sullivan was allowed in alone
      only after being forced to wait in the crowd.

      Bharat Patel, the deputy state attorney-general,
      told lawyers outside the court their entry "was not in his
      hands."

      Also on trial are Movement for Democratic Change
      secretary general Welshman Ncube and shadow
      agriculture minister Renson Gasela.

      Zimbabwe has been wracked by more than two years of
      political and economic chaos as Mugabe's
      increasingly authoritarian government has cracked
      down on the opposition, the independent press and
      the judiciary.

      Respected anti-apartheid attorney George Bizos of
      South Africa, who first represented Nelson
      Mandela nearly 40 years ago, is defending the
      three.

      Tsvangirai arrived for the hearing in an
      armor-protected vehicle. Ncube and Gasela were only admitted
      to the High Court after delays while police
      identified them.

      Bizos applied for a delay of trial until it is open
      to the public, said Innocent Chagonda, a lawyer for the
      three accused.

      "The trial is not going to begin until the
      journalists and the public are allowed in," he said.

      The treason charges were filed in March after a
      Canadian-based consulting company released a
      secretly recorded videotape of a Dec. 4 meeting in
      Montreal, which they said incriminated Tsvangirai.

      A local media monitoring group said the recording
      had been heavily edited and rearranged, and
      Tsvangirai said his remarks were taken out of
      context.

      Ncube and Gasela are accused of helping arrange the
      meeting.

      *****

      Leader's plea to halt Zimbabwe torture

      02
      February 2003 10:39

      Faces lit up and people scurried to shake hands or
      just get close to
      Zimbabwe's opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai,
      when he went for an
      unexpected walkabout in Harare's Budiro township.

      The scruffy vegetable market was briefly
      transformed. 'Mr President, you are
      our true leader,' said a beaming vendor. Others
      chanted: 'We are hungry, we
      are hungry.' Tsvangirai responded, 'I know, I
      understand. We are going
      through hard times.'

      This week will be especially tough for Tsvangirai,
      who goes on trial tomorrow
      for his alleged involvement in an assasination
      attempt on Zimbawe's
      tyrannical leader, Robert Mugabe.

      In an exclusive interview with The Observer,
      Tsvangirai declared this
      weekend that his country was now facing a 'torture
      emergency'. 'The UN
      should send its special rapporteur; the
      Commonwealth should investigate.
      This is a universal appeal to all international
      bodies, government and human
      rights organisations to investigate what is going
      on here. In the name of
      human rights, it must stop.'

      Tsvangirai bitterly attacked France and Portugal
      for inviting Mugabe to
      summits in their capitals in defiance of European
      Union sanctions, charging
      that they will be 'toasting with goblets of the
      blood of innocent women and
      children'.

      In the marketplace on Friday, the support for
      Tsvangirai was tangible, even
      from a young man who came up in a T-shirt
      emblazoned with the emblem of
      Zanu-PF, Mugabe's ruling party. 'What's this?' said
      Tsvangirai in a jocular
      tone. 'It's just a T-shirt,' said the man, shaking
      hands and smiling. 'I have to
      have something to wear.'

      Some told Tsvangirai how brave he was to stand up
      to Mugabe. Others said:
      'Where have you been? We need you!'

      Within a few minutes Tsvangirai got back in his
      truck and was off to visit
      other markets as well as the endless queues -- fuel
      queues, bus queues
      and food queues -- that define Zimbabwe today.

      They were lightning visits, designed to avoid
      Zimbabwe's police, who have
      used draconian security laws to disperse meetings
      that Tsvangirai was
      scheduled to address.

      After keeping a relatively low profile since the
      March presidential elections,
      which he narrowly lost to Mugabe amid widespread
      charges of state
      violence and voting fraud, Tsvangirai is
      reinvigorated and taking the offensive
      against the government.

      Tsvangirai is enthusiastically received wherever he
      goes and the whistle-stop
      walkabouts are marked by cheers, joking and a lack
      of the menace and
      thuggish threats that are the hallmarks of Mugabe's
      Zanu-PF. It has been
      many years since Mugabe has ventured out to meet
      the public.

      Tsvangirai (51) appeared relaxed and cheerful, but
      he has many challenges
      to face, not least tomorrow. He has dismissed the
      charges as 'trumped-up
      allegations, part of a campaign of spurious charges
      against our party's
      leaders to try to derail us. We are confident these
      charges will not hold up in
      court'.

      In the past few weeks, 10 supporters of
      Tsvangirai's Movement for
      Democratic Change (MDC) have been arrested,
      including three MPs and a
      lawyer. They allege that they were tortured by
      police, including beatings,
      clubbing and electric shocks to the genitals. Their
      charges are supported by
      independent medical examinations.

      In January, Zimbabwe was rocked by the news that
      two of Mugabe's top
      deputies allegedly approached Tsvangirai to see if
      he would join in a
      transitional government if they could convince
      Mugabe to take early
      retirement. The news established Tsvangirai as a
      key player in any
      negotiations to resolve Zimbabwe's ongoing crisis.

      'Anyone who wants to find a solution must come to
      the MDC because we
      have the allegiance of the people,' Tsvangirai
      said.

      'Mugabe may have the power and the position, but he
      is totally lacking in
      democratic legitimacy. People are looking to the
      MDC because it stands up
      for democracy and speaks up for the issues that
      affect everyone. Zanu-PF
      knows the time for testing the waters is fast
      running out. Negotiations to
      resolve the economic crisis must take place now, or
      very soon.

      'The economic realities are very evident. The
      government is insolvent and the
      situation is totally unsustainable. When people are
      going hungry, we are
      clearly at the wall. The peoples' suffering must
      stop. That is the key.'

      Mugabe's government estimates that eight million of
      the country's 12-million
      people are threatened with starvation. 'The
      government alone cannot deal
      with the magnitude of the food shortages, yet it
      wants to control food for
      political reasons,' Tsvangirai said. 'There is
      evidence that food is being
      steered away from the areas of MDC support. Buhera
      [Tsvangirai's home
      area] and Binga have been starved of any food from
      the state Grain
      Marketing Board.

      'It is only because of the intervention of
      international non-governmental
      organisations that there has not been serious loss
      of life. And the fuel
      shortage makes things worse. There is no diesel to
      transport food.'

      South Africa and Nigeria both sent Cabinet
      Ministers to Zimbabwe in
      January who publicly supported Mugabe and did not
      meet Tsvangirai or any
      other MDC member. Tsvangirai denounced South Africa
      and Nigeria for
      supporting Mugabe rather than mediating between all
      sides. 'We in the MDC
      recognise the role of South Africa in helping to
      point the way forward for us.
      South Africa has the historical precedent of always
      being part of the solution
      for this country. Our concern is over the strategy
      the Mbeki government has
      employed. We question whether it can serve as an
      honest broker.

      'We believe they have compromised themselves by
      openly supporting
      Zanu-PF. This support started with the March
      elections, but it is now more
      robust. The Labour Minister visited here and loudly
      supported Zanu-PF, the
      Foreign Minister, too. And at the ACP meeting,
      South Africa supported
      Mugabe. So it is natural for us to distrust them.'

      Tsvangirai spelled out what he believes is
      necessary to return the troubled
      country to democracy. 'The first thing is that
      Mugabe has got to go.
      Mugabe's arrogance and defiance is becoming a
      national liability,' he said.

      'Let's recognise that Zanu-PF, although it is part
      of the problem, is also part
      of the solution. It must be involved in the
      transitional authority that we are
      proposing. The elections must be conducted
      according to the standards of
      the Southern African Development Community [SADC --
      the group of 15
      southern African nations].'

      African countries have developed their own
      standards for democratic
      elections and these must be adhered to, Tsvangirai
      said. 'To allow
      democracy to function freely is the only way out.

      'We recognise that Mbeki needs a solution to
      Zimbabwe's crisis, too. If there
      is anything we can do to bridge the gap of
      misunderstanding with South
      Africa, then we will try it. But they must deal
      with us honestly and fairly.

      'South Africa has gone through a commendable
      process of changing
      governments using national healing and
      reconciliation, fully democratic
      elections, the creation of a legitimate
      constitution that gives power to the
      people. We can learn from all those steps.'

      The next few months are crucial, he said. 'There
      are many events that are
      coming up: the Commonwealth decision in March
      whether to expel
      Zimbabwe or maintain its suspension; Nigerian
      president Obasanjo will visit
      here in February; EU heads of state will meet with
      their ACP partners soon;
      the UN is to consider Zimbabwe. What the
      international community should
      say is "We want to help".

      'The international community should not think this
      is just between two
      political parties; they must help the whole nation.
      To do that they must
      consult with all the civic organisations in the
      space between the parties. All
      stakeholders should be consulted; only then can we
      move forward together.'
      - Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited
      2001

      *****

      40 die in Zimbabwe train
      crash

      At least 40 people have been killed and about
      60 others injured in a train crash in western
      Zimbabwe, according to the authorities.

      A passenger train collided with a goods train
      carrying inflammable material near the town of
      Dete, on a railway line linking the southern city
      of Bulawayo to the western resort of Victoria
      Falls.

      Reports from the
      scene said a fierce fire
      broke out, and some
      of the dead were
      burnt beyond
      recognition.

      State radio said 30
      bodies had been
      recovered from the
      wreckage, and many
      more passengers were
      being ferried to
      hospital facilities at the nearby town of
      Hwange.

      Hours after the crash at 0300 local time (0100
      GMT), rescuers were still trying to free people
      trapped in the mangled wreckage, and there
      were fears that the death toll would rise.

      Zimbabwe's Transport Minister Witness
      Mangwende - who visited the scene of the
      crash - blamed the accident on human error.

      Mr Mangwende said a mistake in track signals
      had sent the two trains onto the same track.

      President Robert Mugabe sent his condolences
      to the relatives of the dead.

      String of crashes

      The passenger train was believed to have
      carried 1,100 people in 13 coaches, 11 of
      which were destroyed in the crash, which was
      apparently head-on.

      The BBC's Hilary Andersson says passenger
      trains in Zimbabwe have become increasingly
      overcrowded in recent months due to severe
      fuel shortages.

      She says the National
      Railways of Zimbabwe
      (NRZ) has found it
      difficult to import
      spare parts and
      maintenance
      equipment for its
      railway system
      recently, because of
      the lack of hard
      currency in the
      country.

      Saturday's accident is
      the latest in a string
      of crashes involving trains in Zimbabwe.

      Last month, five people were killed and more
      than 100 injured when a goods train ploughed
      into a bus in Harare.

      Last October, 22 people were injured when a
      passenger train on its way to Victoria Falls
      derailed near Hwange after colliding with an
      elephant.

      Our correspondent says the latest incident will
      not make it any easier for Zimbabwe to
      improve its image as a safe and attractive
      tourist destination prior to the Cricket World
      Cup, which starts later this month.
    • 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

        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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