- Thousands And Thousands Back Constitutional Change
Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
February 6, 2003
Posted to the web February 6, 2003
By Tusekele Mwanyongo
Countless thousands and thousands of United Democratic Front (UDF)
supporters and others from AFORD, MCP, church community etc. took to
streets in Blantyre on Friday to express their desire that Article 83
of the Malawi Constitution should be changed to provide for one more
of office for Malawi's President instead of two.
The demonstrations came barely three days after Justice Minister Henry
Phoya announced in Parliament that he had referred the Constitutional
change Bill to the Parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee to iron out
The demonstration by thousands of people
started from Upper Stadium at Chichiri down to
Southern Region UDF Governor, Davis Kapito
and several of other party leaders led the
There was one clear message, which the
demonstrators sent to the various stakeholders,
politicians, church leaders, civil society organizations, and the
The message was: "They want Dr Bakili Muluzi to run for one more term
office because of his good leadership qualities. He is development
conscious, humane, compassionate, peace-loving, benevolent, and a
democrat at heart who is committed to the promotion of democratic
This crystal clear message was boldly written on placards, which the
demonstrators carried. Some of them screamed: "Third Term for Muluzi",
"Muluzi, God-fearing and development-conscious", and "Ayimanso!".
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.
Kachopwa, said that it is UDF's strong conviction in democracy that
forced people to demonstrate to express their desire to see an
to the constitution.
"It is in this vein that we are freely expressing our views here. We
parliamentarians to note our concerns and when they meet to reconsider
Bill to allow one more term for the President, they should strive to
the majority views.
A Blantyre South West constituency member, Mary Banda, concurred with
Kachopya that other people with a different view for that of the UDF
not stop the UDF from expressing their view.
"After all, what we are doing (demonstration) is not the end of it all
we believe in winning at polls. We expect opponents of the
change to meet us at the polls in 2004. We promise a land victory at
2004 polls. We know that they are very scared of Muluzi as a candidate
2004," 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
brutality and would not want to see the prevailing democracy with all
freedoms under the Muluzi rule evaporate into thin air. "Ayimenso! (He
stand again)," she shouted.
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, carrying 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 no one from elsewhere should do that. "This
is purely for Malawi and Malawians. I am even surprised to see a white
called Harold Williams in the forefront of those against the
change. Does he want to re-colonise this country that became
from the chains of colonialism in 1964? Is he a mercenary or a relic
colonialism and its evils? Why does he not leave this debate to blacks
alone?" quizzed Muata.
A handful anti-third term demonstrators also marched on Monday.
Malawi Development Corporation Under Probe
Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
February 6, 2003
Posted to the web February 6, 2003
By Our Reporter
The government has instituted an investigation into the operations of
Malawi Development Corporation following allegations that some top
of the organization have misused money meant for the construction of
country's first ever five star Namiwawa Hotel.
Construction of the K1.2 billion Namiwawa Hotel has ground to a halt
lack of resources.
Minister of Statutory Corporation, Bob Khamisa,
has confirmed that MDC was under the
government's microscope to determine how
much money has been embezzled.
But Khamisa said the construction of the hotel
has stopped mainly because of what he
described as a financing gap.
"The hotel has stopped because there is a
financing gap and MDC is looking for financial resources," said Khamisa
telephone interview from his Luchenza house in Thyolo.
Khamisa, however, could not rule out that some top officials at MDC
misappropriated some of the money meant for the construction of the
MDC's director of finance, Nathan Mpinganjira, has so far been
to pave way for the instituted probe.
MDC, general manager, Stewart Malata, refused to comment on the matter
when the reporter called him to find out more details indicating that
not got details about the matter. Namiwawa Hotel Chairman Emmanuel
Fabiano, who had just returned from South Africa with Malata where
met the South Africa Development Bank officials, one of the financiers
project, also refused to comment, saying the MDC general manager was
right person to comment on the issue.
Speaking in an interview before he was suspended, Mpinganjira
allegations that resources meant for the project have been
"The problem with Malawians is that when there is a big project like
people think somebody has misappropriated money. No one has
misappropriated any money meant for the project," he said.
Mpinganjira said construction of the hotel came to a halt late last
because one of the shareholders of the project, Press Trust did not
money for the project on time. K100 million was only released end
2002, he said.
Mpinganjira also said project contractors, SR Nicholas and their South
African counterparts laid down tools in December last year demanding
payment of K150 million.
SR Nicholas Managing Director, Borzini Bizzarro, confirmed having
constructing the hotel but refused to comment, referring the reporter
He said his company would resume construction as soon as the money,
which he said was in arrears, was paid.
Mpinganjira said the project has already consumed K600 million (US$7
million.), half the amount meant for the project.
Apart from MDC and Press Trust, the project gets funding from
Trade Areas (PTA) and loans from commercial banks.
MDC has pumped in K696 million (US$8 million), Commercial Bank of
K261 million (US$3 million) and PTA bank K261 million (US$ 3 million).
Mpinganjira said that commercial banks are afraid of taking further
injecting money into the project because they are not sure that it
On the other hand, Mpinganjira said banks are now exercising caution
before putting their money in the project because the hotel business
operators Legacy have threatened that they would not take over the
from MDC should they fail to meet their standards.
"Legacy, who are expected to take over the operations of Namiwawa Hotel
its completion warned us that they would not take over should the hotel
constructed below their required standards," he said.
Mpinganjira said MDC has been having cash flow problems because the
listing of Sun Bird Hotel did not go as expected.
Former general manager of MDC, Patrick Makina, who initiated the
before he was transferred to National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) late
year said in an interview that he was not aware that money for the
was allegedly misappropriated.
He said Namiwawa Hotel has its own board of directors who took charge
"Our job was to plan and source funds for the project. The board was
over all in-charge. But surely, I have not heard anything about money
for the project missing," he said before referring the reporter to the
University of Malawi Assesses Private Schools
Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
February 6, 2003
Posted to the web February 6, 2003
University of Malawi's Centre for Education Research and Training has
completed its assessment of the provision of education services by the
private sector in Malawi.
The Centre will now inform the education ministry, the donor community
other stakeholders on the contribution private schools render to the
and how stakeholders can respond to the needs of the sector.
A letter to various private secondary schools
signed by the Centre's Deputy Director, Denis
Kunje, says the researchers will avail
themselves to particular institutions in order to
assess the ups and downs of privately owned
schools on the delivery of their work.
"I would like to book for an appointment with
you (headmasters) to discuss issues such as
delivery of the curriculum finance and resource
utilisation among others," reads part of the letter, dated October 4,
In an exclusive interview, Kunje said in addition to furnishing
other stakeholders with results of their findings, they will also send
to unnamed organisation in Europe which has shown interest in Malawi's
educational system, especially the contribution by the private sector.
He commended other private schools which follow recommended national
curriculum and have update infrastructure which, he said, was conducive
imparting knowledge on future leaders.
Kunje said their research was aimed at finding out about student's
at school, types of punishment, enrolment since 1999, amount of fees
student annually, facilities, teaching and learning materials, as well
teachers deal with curriculum difficulties and students' failures.
Educationists, Parents Question High Court Over
Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
February 6, 2003
Posted to the web February 6, 2003
By Our Reporter
Educationists and parents have condemned the High Court of Malawi for
ruling that students at the Polytechnic in Blantyre stay on campus
University told them to go home after last week's riots.
During a random interview, educationists and parents described the move
surprising, saying this would promote anarchy at the University and at
A teacher at Rumphi Secondary School,
Chimango Gondwe said students at any
education institution must obey orders from
their lecturers and administrators at all times.
"If a student does something wrong deliberately
and decides to go to courts for redress, then I
don't know how education institutions will instil
discipline in the students," he said.
Leslie Bandawe from Nkhata Bay Secondary School said there must be a
meeting between court officials and the University to find out how the
work together to instil discipline in students and how courts can
interfering with education institutions.
"Even the former Head of State Dr Kamuzu Banda used to tell us that
education without responsibility is nothing. If we let the University
clash like this, it is the student who is going to suffer," he said.
Bandawe said as future leaders students need to be disciplined at all
by their administrators.
Four students were arrested on Friday and have since been released on
bail in connection with clashes between the students and those in
the consititutional change demonstrators, which resulted in the burning
Friday of United Democratic Front (UDF) offices at Chitawira in
The College remained closed on Tuesday despite a court injunction
obtained by the students on Saturday, restraining the University of
from closing and evicting students from campus.
Rodwell Bundaunda from Ntchisi said if students rely on courts, then
future will certainly be uncertain.
"I don't know then what will be the role of the University. I thought
teaching the students the University is supposed to make sure there is
order, peace and discipline? I have never heard of this before," he
College Registrar John Kadzanja said the Polytechnic could not open
the injunction obtained by the students because the injunction came
the college had already closed. The students were insubordinate by not
obeying the order to leave the campus.
Meanwhile Polytechnic Principal Henry Chibwana disclosed to The Malawi
Standard that the college has started offering meals to some students.
"We are only offering meals to students who are entitled to it," said
Chibwana. He explained that these are students who pursuing parallel
courses. These are students who are not on government scholarships.
Asked if it is true that some political parties, civil society groups
missions are assisting the students with food, Chibwana said that he
seen anyone bringing baskets of food to the college.
A visit to the college by The Malawi Standard investigative team
revealed that the college is providing food to all the students
discriminating between those on government and self-sponsored
The Malawi Standard has also established that indeed some activists
providing food to the students to gain political mileage. Yesterday a
grouping bought food stuffs worth MK 20 000.00 from a Superette in
Chitawira to feed students. Another tranch of food was expected from a
British diplomat in the evening of Tuesday.
MCP Treasurer to Challenge His President
Malawi Standard (Blantyre)r Repo
February 6, 2003
Posted to the web February 6, 2003
By Paul Kang'ombe
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Treasurer General Hetherwick Ntaba and his
deputy Stanley Masauli have said they will challenge Gwanda Chakuamba
for the party's presidency during the forthcoming convention slated for
Speaking in an interview, Ntaba said: "Members of the National
Committee agreed during the party's caucus held recently that the
forthcoming convention would be open to everybody," he said.
Ntaba, has told The Malawi Standard that he is
prepared to challenge Chakuamba for the
position of the party presidency.
"We are living in a democracy. I will respect
people's decision. I will give it a trial when they
vote for me," Ntaba said.
On the other hand, Masauli said he is ready to
serve as MCP president and would contest
should people request him to do so.
"Supporters or delegates are entitled to choose a candidate of their
am ready to serve as MCP president if voted into that position. Why
wouldn't say much until we cross the river and get there," Masauli
Nonetheless, Masauli said that he would not campaign for the post
doing so would be like persuading voters.
"I would not campaign for MCP presidency, if people really want me to
them, they would vote for me. When campaigning you induce people's
to vote for you," he noted.
MCP president Gwanda Chakuamba denied to comment on the issue.
"I should not comment. Let me wait until the appropriate time comes
MCP would decide who should be the next leader. But if people would
me to contest for presidency I will respect their interest. I am in
serve people," he explained.
Former MCP publicity secretary Nicholas Dausi said in an interview
Ntaba and Masauli have leadership qualities and that they are well
respected in the MCP.
"People in MCP have great respect for Ntaba and Masauli and both of
have more political weight than Cakuamba," he said.
Dausi requested MCP leadership to ensure that the forthcoming
would be democratic and that elections to positions would be free and
He said supporters and delegates should be given a chance to choose a
candidate of their own choice without fear or influence. In addition,
election should not be based on tribalism or regionalism.
Dausi also disclosed that he is consulting with some political gurus,
and relatives on which position he should contest for.
He was among some of the names that were mentioned for the party's new
Ntaba is a medical doctor by profession while Masauli is a business
and a pilot by profession.
MCP secretary general, Kate Kainja, disclosed in an interview recently
the new blood eyeing for big positions in the party should campaign
the old guards cannot step down overnight.
"Our leaders were legally elected and if the new blood wants to take
they should campaign. They cannot just come over night to say, "Chop,
chop the old guards," " she explained.
Zimbabwe witness 'a
Lawyers defending Zimbabwe's opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai on treason charges
have accused the key prosecution witness of
being a serial fraudster.
They say that Canada-based political
consultant Ari Ben-Menashe video-taped a
meeting with Mr Tsvangirai as part of a
government plot to stifle the opposition. Repo
Mr Tsvangirai and two
colleagues from the
(MDC) pleaded not
guilty to treason
charges when the trial
began on Monday.
Mr Ben-Menashe, a
says the three
contracted him to
Robert Mugabe before last year's elections.
Mr Mugabe won but international observers
said the poll was marred by violence and fraud
and Mr Tsvangirai is contesting the result in
South African anti-apartheid lawyer George
Bizos said prosecutors would not give him any
information on Mr Ben-Menashe's work for the
government, though the consultant testified
that he had been paid about $1m for his
Prosecutors said Mr Ben Menashe's services to
the government were unrelated to the treason
charges, Mr Bizos told Judge Paddington
"There is a
the fraud we say
against the MDC
and its office
bearers and a
number of other
frauds that have
been committed by
the witness and
his companies by
getting money and
then turning the
tables against the
people to whom
were made," Mr Bizos said.
The lawyer submitted documents of a
London arbitration court ruling that
one of Mr Ben-Menashe's companies
had failed to deliver $7million-worth
of promised corn to Zambia.
Mr Ben-Menashe said that deal was
altered by former Zambian President
Frederick Chiluba and was still being
contested by lawyers.
The court has also been watching the
grainy video, which Mr Ben-Menashe
recorded as evidence against Mr
During one of the audible sections of
the tape, Mr Tsvangirai said:
"The discussion was never about the
elimination of Mugabe, it was about
the election, and the post-election
said on Tuesday
that the MDC had
signed a $500,000
contract with his
firm and promised
$10m to the head
of the air force, Air
Shiri, to stage a
coup after Mr
Mr Tsvangirai had
said sources in the
would provide theo
"He also asked us
to enlist the
Government to assist the MDC in
carrying out his plot," he said on
If found guilty, Mr Tsvangirai,
Welshman Ncube and Renson Gasela
could face the death penalty.
Mr Tsvangirai was the main
challenger to Mr Mugabe during last
March's presidential elections.
Previous treason charges against Mr
Tsvangirai were dropped when they
were ruled unconstitutional.
The trial comes as the European
Union is considering whether to
renew sanctions on Zimbabwe's
leader, which are due to run out on
EU agree 'in principle' on Zimbabwe
February 2003 11:10
EU ambassadors struck an agreement "in principle"
Wednesday to extend
sanctions against Zimbabwe, but the deal still has
to be finalised at a new
meeting next week, diplomats said.
The EU's Greek presidency will in the meantime seek
African countries that Zimbabwe President Robert
Mugabe will not attend an
EU-Africa summit in Lisbon in April, said the
The accord however paved the way for Mugabe to
travel to Paris later this
month for a Franco-African summit. "There was a
green light from all
member states. Nobody opposed it outright," said
The European Union imposed a 12-month visa ban on
leadership last February, as violence flared in the
run-up to a presidential
poll widely condemned as rigged.
The renewal of the sanctions has been blocked on
the question of waivers
from the travel ban on Mugabe and 71 senior
Zimbabwean officials. Two
previous attempts have failed to resolve the row.
Diplomats said on
Wednesday that the ambassadors agreed to renew the
Zimbabwe, and also struck an accord on the terms of
But the Lisbon summit, scheduled for April 5,
remains the sticking point.
Britain, Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark are
fiercely opposed to
Mugabe being allowed to attend the April
"Contacts are continuing" to find a compromise,
which could involve
Zimbabwe being represented by its foreign minister,
Stan Mudenge, a
"The presidency needs a little bit more time. We
are not far from an accord,"
France has apparently persuaded its EU partners to
allow Mugabe to attend
a Franco-African summit in Paris on February
Even Britain, which is the EU's fiercest critic of
Mugabe's regime in its
former colony, seems to have come round to
accepting that Mugabe can
travel to Paris.
"If the price of keeping the travel ban in place
after February 18 is Mugabe
being allowed to visit the Franco-African summit
then that's something we
have to consider," said the British diplomat.
The diplomat insisted that Mugabe's attendance at
the Lisbon meeting in
April would be more problematic. "As far as were
are concerned Mugabe is
not welcome in the EU," he said.
Diplomats said that, if no promise were given that
Mugabe would not attend
the Lisbon meeting, the summit would be delayed.
Following summit talks on Tuesday with British
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Chirac defended his invitation to the Zimbabwean
leader. "We do not want to
prove anything and we don't want to act
aggressively toward anyone," Chirac
told a joint press conference. "We decided we
needed to invite all the
presidents, and we of course launched discussions
with Brussels that are
ongoing, to see what our final decision will be,"
the French leader added.
Britain was furious about the French invitation,
although Paris said London
was fully aware of the arrangement. - Sapa-AFP
Zambian ruling party
By Penny Dale
Zambia's ruling Movement for Multi-party
Democracy (MMD) has scored an important
victory by holding on to their parliamentary
seat in rural Keembe, about 100km north of
No official results have yet been released, but
Anderson Mazoka's United Party for National
Development (UPND) has conceded defeat,
even though it accuses the MMD of buying
votes with beer and maize.
Estimates from the ground indicate a MMD win
with a resounding 70% of the vote.
The MMD's success
gives a beleaguered
and hands his party a
slim majority in
The MMD now has one
more seat than the
opposition - enough,
providing no one
breaks ranks, to pass
ordinary legislation but
not enough to make changes to the
As well as smarting from the by-election loss,
Mr Mazoka also has to face what is likely to be
a tough audience with the Supreme Court next
Contempt of court?
Mr Mazoka along with General Christon Tembo
and General Godfrey Miyanda wanted to
overturn President Levy Mwanawasa's election.
Mr Mazoka made this the focus of a rally
speech in the campaign to win the crucial
by-election, held on Thursday in Keembe.
Vice-President Enock Kavindele also
succumbed to temptation.
But the pair may have
to pay a high price for
their loose tongues:
the Supreme Court has
summoned both to
appear before it on
Tuesday next week to
tell the court why
they should not be
cited for contempt of
The court is obviously
fed up that despite
politicians have continued to make political
capital out of the ongoing presidential election
They will have to try to convince the judges
that their recent comments on the evidence of
former head of intelligence Xavier Chungu do
not amount to contempt of court and have not
scuppered the chances of a fair outcome.
Mr Kavindele has said that Mr Chungu's claim
that the MMD used government money in the
2001 elections is untrue.
Mr Mazoka has said that Mr Mwanawasa should
step down on the basis of Mr Chungu's
If found to be in contempt of court, the pair
could face a spell in prison.
US makes (non-GM) food donation to
February 2003 14:01
The US government on Thursday donated 30 000 tons
modified (GM) sorghum and bulgur wheat to Zambia,
struggling to cope with
widespread food shortages.
The $15-million donation comes at a time when the
had appealed for more relief food. In the national
budget presented last
week, Finance and National Planning Minister
Emmanuel Kasonde set
aside $14-million for the commercial purchase of
US ambassador Martin Brennan said the food aid was
intended to "assist
Zambia's most vulnerable people during the current
food shortage". Close to
three-million Zambians are facing food shortages
following two consecutive
poor harvests, and concern has been raised over the
impact of a possible
drought this year.
The donation of sorghum and bulgur (partly cooked
and dried wheat grains)
follows a wrangle last year over the government's
refusal to accept
US-supplied GM maize on health and environmental
The World Food Programme (WFP) will distribute 10
000 tons of the US
shipment, while their partners CARE International,
and the church-run World
Vision and Catholic Relief Services will distribute
The US donation has beefed up existing stocks of
relief food. "What I can
say right now is that we have a healthy food
pipeline, we are receiving
thousands of tons of relief food every other week,"
said WFP representative
Wheat and sorghum are generally accepted by
Zambians, despite the fact
that white maize is the staple food consumed by
most households. - Irin
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