- Mammoth Crowds March in Support of Third Term
Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
January 31, 2003
Posted to the web January 31, 2003
Over 20,000 United Democratic Front (UDF) supporters took to the
in Malawi's commercial city of Blantyre on Friday to demonstrate their
solidarity to the wishes of most Malawians that the Constitution should
changed so as to allow President Bakili Muluzi run for the third term
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
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
One of the demonstrators, Pastor Victor Kachopwa, said the peaceful
demonstration was aimed at consolidating the party's unanimous stand
retain Muluzi as the party's 2004 presidential candidate.
The Constitution just provides for two five-year terms of office,
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
parliamentarians to note our concern and when they meet to reconsider
the Bill to allow another term for the President, they should strive
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
believe in winning at polls. We expect opponents of the third term to
us at the polls. We can promise a strong crushing," she said.
Another lady demonstrator, Patricia Matola could not hide her love for
President and the UDF. She said she has bitter memories of the MCP
regime brutality and would not want to see the prevailing tranquillity
the Muluzi rule.
"I was brutally beaten at Chileka Airport when I was among the people
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
Soko and Muata said the President is the people's darling and that a
Malawians should not mislead the nation with constitutional
They said the constitution of Malawi is a document that was coined by
people of this country.
"It is people of this country who can also change that document," they
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
Villagers Opt Not to Sleep for Fear of 'Bloodsuckers'
African Church Information Service
February 3, 2003
Posted to the web January 31, 2003
Malawi Government is at pains to allay fears in one of the country's
tea growing areas in Thyolo district, where villagers are spending
sleepless nights following reports of alleged vampires said to be
human blood for maize.
The villagers have been quoted saying that unidentified people were
invading their houses at night with hand sprays to suffocate
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
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
on a blood-sucking mission. They were saved from being lynched by a
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
Blantyre city centre.
The official, Erick Chiwaya, who is the party's district governor for
was hospitalised after the mob assaulted him on accusation that he
vampires to collect blood from the township. He denied any
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
is in court as he awaits trial on March 4.
There is widespread belief among rural communities in the district
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
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
Political and traditional leaders in the Mulanje and Thyolo districts,
mounted a big public relations exercise with the police to try to
villagers in the affected areas that there was no truth in reports
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
foreign diplomats and journalists trying to get into
long-awaited trial of an opposition leader that was
Morgan Tsvangirai and two senior party colleagues
accused with plotting to kill President Robert
deny the charges, and could face the death penalty
Before the trial was to begin, police with batons
court's entrance, striking out at reporters,
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
"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
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
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
"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
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
Respected anti-apartheid attorney George Bizos of
South Africa, who first represented Nelson
Mandela nearly 40 years ago, is defending the
Tsvangirai arrived for the hearing in an
armor-protected vehicle. Ncube and Gasela were only admitted
to the High Court after delays while police
Bizos applied for a delay of trial until it is open
to the public, said Innocent Chagonda, a lawyer for the
"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
Ncube and Gasela are accused of helping arrange the
Leader's plea to halt Zimbabwe torture
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
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
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
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
'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
'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
area] and Binga have been starved of any food from
the state Grain
'It is only because of the intervention of
organisations that there has not been serious loss
of life. And the fuel
shortage makes things worse. There is no diesel to
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
'We believe they have compromised themselves by
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
40 die in Zimbabwe train
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
Reports from the
scene said a fierce fire
broke out, and some
of the dead were
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
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
The BBC's Hilary Andersson says passenger
trains in Zimbabwe have become increasingly
overcrowded in recent months due to severe
She says the National
Railways of Zimbabwe
(NRZ) has found it
difficult to import
spare parts and
equipment for its
recently, because of
the lack of hard
currency in the
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
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.
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
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
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.
Meanwhile, the MDC on Sunday said it will push ahead with plans for anti-government protests, saying victory in a key by-election at the weekend was a "sign the electorate supported its policies", including democratic mass resistance.
A spokesperson of the main faction of the splintered MDC, Nelson Chamisa, said victory over Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF and a rival MDC faction in a Saturday by-election in Harare's Budiriro constituency is a sign Zimbabweans still have confidence in party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his policies.
Tsvangirai, the founding leader of the MDC, heads the main rump of the opposition party whose candidate, Emmanuel Chisvuure, polled 7 949 votes to win the Budiriro House of Assembly seat.
Gabriel Chaibva of the other faction of the MDC, led by prominent academic Arthur Mutambara, garnered 504 votes while Zanu-PF's Jeremiah Bvirindi polled 3 961 votes.
"This election showed that the electorate still has confidence in the MDC [Tsvangirai-led] leadership and its policies," Chamisa told independent news service ZimOnline.
He added: "We will now move to consolidate our position * we still believe in mass protests. Until we have attained our goals we see no reason why we should abandon [plans for protests]."
Tsvangirai has threatened to call mass protests this winter against Mugabe and his government. He says the mass protests, whose date he is still to name, are meant to force Mugabe to relinquish power to a government of national unity to be tasked to write a new and democratic Constitution that would ensure free and fair elections held under international supervision.
Mugabe and his government, who had hoped for victory in Budiriro to show they were recapturing urban support from a splintered MDC, have not taken idly the opposition's threats to call mass protests, with the veteran president warning Tsvangirai he would be "dicing with death" if he ever attempted to instigate a Ukraine-style popular revolt in Zimbabwe.
In a fresh crackdown against dissension, the police last week arrested several church and civic leaders for organising public prayers and marches to mark last year's controversial home-demolition exercise by the government.
The police also banned the marches and prayers, fearing they could easily turn into mass protests against Mugabe and his government.
However, the marches went ahead in the second-largest city of Bulawayo after organisers had obtained a court order barring the police from stopping the march.
Political analysts say although Zimbabweans have largely been cowed by Mugabe's tactics of routinely deploying riot police and the military to crush street protests, worsening hunger and poverty are fanning public anger that Tsvangirai -- with proper planning and organisation -- could easily manipulate.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe six-year old economic crisis that has seen inflation breaching the 1 000% barrier. Last year, the World Bank said Zimbabwe's economic crisis was unprecedented for a country not at war.
The MDC and major Western governments blame Mugabe for wrecking the country's economy, which was one of the strongest in Africa at independence from Britain 26 years ago.
Mugabe denies the charge blaming the crisis on sabotage by Britain and her allies after he seized white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks six years ago.
The Harare authorities recently hiked salaries for civil servants, with the lowest-paid soldier now earning about Z$27-million while the lowest-paid school teacher now takes home about Z$33-million.
But the salaries are still way below the poverty datum line, which the government's Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says now stands at a staggering Z$42-million a month for an average family of six.
The Zimbabwe government often accuses the ZCTU, a strong ally of the MDC, of pushing a political agenda to remove Mugabe from power.
Meanwhile, Matombo and Lucia Matibenga retained their posts as president and first vice-president respectively during the ZCTU congress that ended on Saturday. -- ZimOnline