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    Thousands And Thousands Back Constitutional Change Malawi Standard (Blantyre) February 6, 2003 Posted to the web February 6, 2003 By Tusekele Mwanyongo
    Message 1 of 1046 , Feb 7, 2003
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      Thousands And Thousands Back Constitutional Change

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
      February 6, 2003
      Posted to the web February 6, 2003

      By Tusekele Mwanyongo
      Blantyre, Malawi

      Countless thousands and thousands of United Democratic Front (UDF)
      supporters and others from AFORD, MCP, church community etc. took to
      the
      streets in Blantyre on Friday to express their desire that Article 83
      section 3
      of the Malawi Constitution should be changed to provide for one more
      term
      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
      some
      technical problems.

      The demonstration by thousands of people
      started from Upper Stadium at Chichiri down to
      Blantyre City.

      Southern Region UDF Governor, Davis Kapito
      and several of other party leaders led the
      march.

      There was one clear message, which the
      demonstrators sent to the various stakeholders,
      politicians, church leaders, civil society organizations, and the
      entire world.
      The message was: "They want Dr Bakili Muluzi to run for one more term
      of
      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
      ideals.

      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
      to
      retain Muluzi as the party's 2004 presidential candidate.

      Kachopwa, said that it is UDF's strong conviction in democracy that
      has
      forced people to demonstrate to express their desire to see an
      amendment
      to the constitution.

      "It is in this vein that we are freely expressing our views here. We
      expect
      parliamentarians to note our concerns and when they meet to reconsider
      the
      Bill to allow one more term for the President, they should strive to
      respect
      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
      should
      not stop the UDF from expressing their view.

      "After all, what we are doing (demonstration) is not the end of it all
      because
      we believe in winning at polls. We expect opponents of the
      Constitutional
      change to meet us at the polls in 2004. We promise a land victory at
      the
      2004 polls. We know that they are very scared of Muluzi as a candidate
      in
      2004," 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 democracy with all
      the
      freedoms under the Muluzi rule evaporate into thin air. "Ayimenso! (He
      will
      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
      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 no one from elsewhere should do that. "This
      debate
      is purely for Malawi and Malawians. I am even surprised to see a white
      man
      called Harold Williams in the forefront of those against the
      constitutional
      change. Does he want to re-colonise this country that became
      independent
      from the chains of colonialism in 1964? Is he a mercenary or a relic
      of
      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
      Blantyre, Malawi

      The government has instituted an investigation into the operations of
      the
      Malawi Development Corporation following allegations that some top
      officials
      of the organization have misused money meant for the construction of
      the
      country's first ever five star Namiwawa Hotel.

      Construction of the K1.2 billion Namiwawa Hotel has ground to a halt
      due to
      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
      in a
      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
      Namiwawa Hotel.

      MDC's director of finance, Nathan Mpinganjira, has so far been
      suspended
      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
      he has
      not got details about the matter. Namiwawa Hotel Chairman Emmanuel
      Fabiano, who had just returned from South Africa with Malata where
      they
      met the South Africa Development Bank officials, one of the financiers
      of the
      project, also refused to comment, saying the MDC general manager was
      the
      right person to comment on the issue.

      Speaking in an interview before he was suspended, Mpinganjira
      dismissed
      allegations that resources meant for the project have been
      misappropriated.

      "The problem with Malawians is that when there is a big project like
      this,
      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
      year
      because one of the shareholders of the project, Press Trust did not
      disburse
      money for the project on time. K100 million was only released end
      December
      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
      stopped
      constructing the hotel but refused to comment, referring the reporter
      to MDC
      management.

      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
      Preferential
      Trade Areas (PTA) and loans from commercial banks.

      MDC has pumped in K696 million (US$8 million), Commercial Bank of
      Malawi
      K261 million (US$3 million) and PTA bank K261 million (US$ 3 million).

      Mpinganjira said that commercial banks are afraid of taking further
      risks of
      injecting money into the project because they are not sure that it
      would
      materialize.

      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
      hotel
      from MDC should they fail to meet their standards.

      "Legacy, who are expected to take over the operations of Namiwawa Hotel
      at
      its completion warned us that they would not take over should the hotel
      be
      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
      project
      before he was transferred to National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) late
      last
      year said in an interview that he was not aware that money for the
      project
      was allegedly misappropriated.

      He said Namiwawa Hotel has its own board of directors who took charge
      of
      the transactions.

      "Our job was to plan and source funds for the project. The board was
      the
      over all in-charge. But surely, I have not heard anything about money
      meant
      for the project missing," he said before referring the reporter to the
      hotel
      board chair.

      *****

      University of Malawi Assesses Private Schools

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
      February 6, 2003
      Posted to the web February 6, 2003

      Jane Phiri
      Blantyre

      University of Malawi's Centre for Education Research and Training has
      just
      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
      and
      other stakeholders on the contribution private schools render to the
      nation
      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,
      2002.

      In an exclusive interview, Kunje said in addition to furnishing
      government and
      other stakeholders with results of their findings, they will also send
      a report
      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
      to
      imparting knowledge on future leaders.

      Kunje said their research was aimed at finding out about student's
      behaviour
      at school, types of punishment, enrolment since 1999, amount of fees
      per
      student annually, facilities, teaching and learning materials, as well
      as how
      teachers deal with curriculum difficulties and students' failures.

      *****

      Educationists, Parents Question High Court Over
      Polytechnic Saga

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
      February 6, 2003
      Posted to the web February 6, 2003

      By Our Reporter
      Blantyre, Malawi

      Educationists and parents have condemned the High Court of Malawi for
      ruling that students at the Polytechnic in Blantyre stay on campus
      after the
      University told them to go home after last week's riots.

      During a random interview, educationists and parents described the move
      as
      surprising, saying this would promote anarchy at the University and at
      other
      schools.

      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
      two can
      work together to instil discipline in students and how courts can
      avoid
      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
      and courts
      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
      times
      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
      support of
      the consititutional change demonstrators, which resulted in the burning
      on
      Friday of United Democratic Front (UDF) offices at Chitawira in
      Blantyre.

      The College remained closed on Tuesday despite a court injunction
      obtained by the students on Saturday, restraining the University of
      Malawi
      from closing and evicting students from campus.

      Rodwell Bundaunda from Ntchisi said if students rely on courts, then
      their
      future will certainly be uncertain.

      "I don't know then what will be the role of the University. I thought
      apart from
      teaching the students the University is supposed to make sure there is
      order, peace and discipline? I have never heard of this before," he
      said.

      College Registrar John Kadzanja said the Polytechnic could not open
      after
      the injunction obtained by the students because the injunction came
      after
      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
      and foreign
      missions are assisting the students with food, Chibwana said that he
      has not
      seen anyone bringing baskets of food to the college.

      A visit to the college by The Malawi Standard investigative team
      however
      revealed that the college is providing food to all the students
      without
      discriminating between those on government and self-sponsored
      scholarships.

      The Malawi Standard has also established that indeed some activists
      are
      providing food to the students to gain political mileage. Yesterday a
      political
      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
      Blantyre, Malawi

      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
      April.

      Speaking in an interview, Ntaba said: "Members of the National
      Executive
      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
      choice, I
      am ready to serve as MCP president if voted into that position. Why
      not? I
      wouldn't say much until we cross the river and get there," Masauli
      said.

      Nonetheless, Masauli said that he would not campaign for the post
      because
      doing so would be like persuading voters.

      "I would not campaign for MCP presidency, if people really want me to
      serve
      them, they would vote for me. When campaigning you induce people's
      minds
      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
      when
      MCP would decide who should be the next leader. But if people would
      like
      me to contest for presidency I will respect their interest. I am in
      politics to
      serve people," he explained.

      Former MCP publicity secretary Nicholas Dausi said in an interview
      that
      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
      them
      have more political weight than Cakuamba," he said.

      Dausi requested MCP leadership to ensure that the forthcoming
      convention
      would be democratic and that elections to positions would be free and
      fair.

      He said supporters and delegates should be given a chance to choose a
      candidate of their own choice without fear or influence. In addition,
      the
      election should not be based on tribalism or regionalism.

      Dausi also disclosed that he is consulting with some political gurus,
      friends
      and relatives on which position he should contest for.

      He was among some of the names that were mentioned for the party's new
      blood.

      Ntaba is a medical doctor by profession while Masauli is a business
      magnet
      and a pilot by profession.

      MCP secretary general, Kate Kainja, disclosed in an interview recently
      that
      the new blood eyeing for big positions in the party should campaign
      because
      the old guards cannot step down overnight.

      "Our leaders were legally elected and if the new blood wants to take
      over
      they should campaign. They cannot just come over night to say, "Chop,
      chop the old guards," " she explained.

      *****

      Zimbabwe witness 'a
      fraudster'

      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
      Movement for
      Democratic Change
      (MDC) pleaded not
      guilty to treason
      charges when the trial
      began on Monday.

      Mr Ben-Menashe, a
      former Israeli
      intelligence officer,
      says the three
      contracted him to
      assassinate President
      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
      court.

      Coincidence

      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
      lobbying work.

      Prosecutors said Mr Ben Menashe's services to
      the government were unrelated to the treason
      charges, Mr Bizos told Judge Paddington
      Garwe.

      "There is a
      similarity between
      the fraud we say
      was committed
      against the MDC
      and its office
      bearers and a
      number of other
      frauds that have
      been committed by
      the witness and
      his companies by
      interfering with
      high profile
      political matters,
      getting money and
      then turning the
      tables against the
      people to whom
      the fraudulent
      representations
      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.

      'Not elimination'

      The court has also been watching the
      grainy video, which Mr Ben-Menashe
      recorded as evidence against Mr
      Tsvangirai.

      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
      outcome."

      Mr Ben-Menashe
      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
      Marshal Perence
      Shiri, to stage a
      coup after Mr
      Mugabe's
      assassination.

      Mr Tsvangirai had
      said sources in the
      British Government
      would provide theo
      money, according
      to Mr
      Ben-Menashe.

      "He also asked us
      to enlist the
      United States
      Government to assist the MDC in
      carrying out his plot," he said on
      Thursday.

      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
      18 February.

      *****

      EU agree 'in principle' on Zimbabwe
      sanctions
      Brussels

      06
      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
      commitments from
      African countries that Zimbabwe President Robert
      Mugabe will not attend an
      EU-Africa summit in Lisbon in April, said the
      sources.

      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
      one diplomat.

      The European Union imposed a 12-month visa ban on
      Zimbabwe's
      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
      sanctions against
      Zimbabwe, and also struck an accord on the terms of
      waivers.

      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
      gathering.

      "Contacts are continuing" to find a compromise,
      which could involve
      Zimbabwe being represented by its foreign minister,
      Stan Mudenge, a
      diplomat said.

      "The presidency needs a little bit more time. We
      are not far from an accord,"
      he said.

      France has apparently persuaded its EU partners to
      allow Mugabe to attend
      a Franco-African summit in Paris on February
      20-21.

      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
      'wins' by-election

      By Penny Dale
      BBC, Lusaka

      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
      Lusaka.

      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
      President Levy
      Mwanawasa a
      much-needed boost
      and hands his party a
      slim majority in
      parliament.

      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
      constitution.

      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
      week.

      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
      court.

      The court is obviously
      fed up that despite
      numerous warnings
      politicians have continued to make political
      capital out of the ongoing presidential election
      petition.

      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
      evidence.

      If found to be in contempt of court, the pair
      could face a spell in prison.

      *****

      US makes (non-GM) food donation to
      Zambia
      Lusaka

      07
      February 2003 14:01

      The US government on Thursday donated 30 000 tons
      of non-genetically
      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
      Zambian government
      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
      maize.

      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
      grounds.

      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 remainder.

      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
      Sibi Lawson.

      Wheat and sorghum are generally accepted by
      Zambians, despite the fact
      that white maize is the staple food consumed by
      most households. - Irin
    • Christine Chumbler
      ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17 The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22, 2006
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        ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract

        by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17

        The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by government to look for another contractor instead of China Hunan Construction to construct of the long awaited Karonga/Chitipa road.

        China Hunan from Mainland China won the bid which was approved by the ADB but government later wanted to award the contract to a Portuguese firm, Mota Engil, the second lowest bidder, claiming China Hunan's bid was unrealistically low and that the company had very little experience in Africa.

        Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe confirmed on Sunday the ADB rejected the proposal at a meeting held between the bank and Malawi government in Tunisia last week.

        The Malawi government wanted the Tunisia meeting to authorise it to get another contractor for the road, said Gondwe.

        "They did not allow us to look for another contractor because of their regulations. But we are about to get another alternative for Karonga/Chitipa and I would be surprised if it does not start before end June," said Gondwe.

        The minister explained that the bank insisted that regardless of the unrealistic cost estimates, China Hunan should be allowed to go ahead with the construction.

        But Gondwe could not give further details about the alternatives, arguing there are still a few loose ends to tighten up before disclosing it.

        The problem with China Hunan, according to Gondwe, is that it would require more money to meet the total cost of the project.

        This paper reported last week that government met Taiwanese representatives where they offered to fund the road if the ADB continued to reject its favoured contractor, Mota Engil.

        Gondwe could neither confirm nor deny the reports on the Taiwanese offer, saying government was looking at a number of ways to handle the issue.

        According to Gondwe, the China Hunan's bid was 24 percent lower than the consulting engineers' estimates of K7.9 billion and 34 percent below the second lowest bidder.

        President Bingu wa Mutharika laid a foundation stone for the construction of the road this year ahead of a crucial byelection in Chitipa in December last year.

        The President's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the Chitipa Wenya constituency by-election that fell vacant following the collapse and subsequent death of Speaker of Parliament Rodwell Munyenyembe who belonged to the UDF.

        Last week, police and the District Commissioner (DC) for Chitipa stopped a rally that was aimed at soliciting people's views about development projects in the district.

        The meeting, which was reportedly organised by Concerned Citizens of Chitipa, was among other things also supposed to tackle the controversial Karonga/Chitipa road.

        The project failed to start off in 2000 when a contract for an initial loan of US$17 million and US$15 million from the Taiwanese government was signed, with some quarters claiming the Bakili Muluzi administration diverted the money to another road.

        *****

        Chihana operated on

        by Edwin Nyirongo, 22 May 2006 - 06:32:31

        Alliance for Democracy (Aford) president Chakufwa Chihana, who is in South Africa receiving treatment, had a brain operation on Friday at Garden City Clinic, family and party officials confirmed on Sunday.

        Aford national chairman Chipimpha Mughogho said he was told by the family members that Chihana had a successful operation on Friday and was put in an intensive care unit.

        Mughogho said Chihana, who initially complained of headache, was found with a brain tumour which South African doctors removed.

        Mzimba West MP Loveness Gondwe said Aford boss condition was stable.

        "Hon. Chihana had a major operation and after that he was put in the intensive care unit but his condition is stable. I do not know where he was operated on but it had something to do with the skull," she said.

        Deputy Information Minister John Bande referred the matter to the Health Minister Hetherwick Ntaba who was reported to be in Geneva, Switzerland.

        Aford publicity secretary Norman Nyirenda said when Chihana's situation got worse, the family alerted the Office of the President and Cabinet who took him to Mwaiwathu Private Hospital.

        "The doctors at Mwaiwathu advised that he should be sent to South Africa and they even identified the doctor for him," he said.

        He said the costs are being met by the Malawi government, contradicting his earlier statement that his boss covered the cost.

        Mughogho is now in charge of the party.

        Gondwe will be a busy person when Parliament starts meeting on June 6 as she is the only Aford MP remaining.

        *****

        Pillane proposes presidential age limit

        by Emmanuel Muwamba , 22 May 2006 - 06:34:13

        A member of the DPP National Governing Council Abdul Pillane on Saturday urged members of political parties and the civil society to put an upper age limit in the Constitution for presidential candidates.

        Pillane was addressing members of political parties and civil society in Liwonde during a two-day follow up workshop to the National Conference on the Review of Constitution held in March in Lilongwe.

        "My view is that (an upper) age limit should be at 75. We have to give a chance to younger people to lead because in circumstance, when you age you become forgetful especially when sickly," said Pillane. "Overall, chances should be given to young people."

        But UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala, whose party members agitated for the age limit during presentations, played the issue down.

        "I feel there is no logic to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates. If someone is 90 or 80 I don't know how that can influence the electorate not to vote for someone who is younger, I don't see any logic behind that," said Makwangwala.

        MCP participants at the workshop also vehemently objected to the proposal.

        MCP vice president Nicholas Dausi in an interview said: "There is no constitution in Africa which stipulates an upper age limit. So it would be strange in Malawi to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates."

        MDP President Kamlepo Kalua also opposed the need to have an upper age limit.

        "If we have personalities in mind that we want to discriminate against then it is unfortunate. The constitution we want to build is a guiding document for future generations and it should not bar certain individuals on the basis of grudges," he said.

        The Malawi Law Constitution Issues Paper of March 2006 says several submissions that were received put an upper presidential age limit in the Constitution.

        "It is argued that it is common sense that mental knowledge faculties tend to fail with age. As regards what the actual age limit should be the submissions are far from being agreed. The range is from 60 years to 80 years," read submissions in the Issues Paper.

        On whether MPs should double as ministers, Kalua said this should be the case.

        Makwangwala also said it is not right for MPs to serve as ministers because the Legislature, another arm of government, is reduced while the Executive branch is beefed up from another arm of government.

        "There is no separation of powers when MPs double as ministers," said Makwangwala.

        But Pillane said there is no problem for MPs to work as ministers as well, saying MPs are elected by the President.

        "One can serve both posts. There have been no problems before for people to double," said Pillane.

        The Centre for Multiparty Democracy funded the workshop through the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.

        The objective was to come up with a collective position on the Issues Paper which will be presented to the Special Law Commission that will be constituted soon.

        *****

        Mussa hails new driving licence

        by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:58:52

        Transport and Public Works Minister Henry Mussa last week said the design of the Malawi-Sadc driving licence would guard against forgery and ensure that only skilled and legitimate drivers of particular vehicles are licensed.

        Mussa was speaking at the official launch of the licences in Lilongwe where he announced that traffic police would from July enforce speed limits and sober driving using Breathalysers which his ministry is in the process of procuring.

        The minister said financial constraints are the reason for the delay in procuring the equipment but assured that by July they would be available.

        "With the new equipment, the days of those who believe in the thrill of drink and driving are numbered," warned Mussa.

        Mussa added that with the new licence, government is optimistic that the country's roads would be safe.

        Acting Director of Road Traffic James Chirwa said the features that distinguish the new from the old licences are the Malawi national flag and a ghost image of the driver's photograph, among others.

        Those with old licences, according to Chirwa, are expected to get the new ones after the expiry of the former.

        *****

        UDF demands investigation on Kasambara

        by Rabecca Theu, 22 May 2006 - 06:30:46

        The United Democratic Front (UDF) has asked government to investigate Ralph Kasambara on allegations of abuse of office while he was attorney general.

        UDF publicity secretary Sam Mpasu told the press Sunday that the party is neither amused or saddened by the removal of the former AG but asked government to institute investigations on Kasambara.

        "Beyond the removal of the Attorney General, we now urge President Mutharika to institute investigation against Mr Kasambara into allegations that have made rounds in the public domain during the recent past. These include: Mrs Helen Singh and SS Rent-a-Car; SGS and ITS saga; ...........the use of Malawi Police Service in the arrest of three Chronicle journalists and the handling of Mrs Rubina Kawonga," said Mpasu.

        Mpasu also accused Kasambara of awarding government contracts to Lawson and Company where he was a senior partner.

        "We urge government to thoroughly investigate the former AG. We also ask government to cautiously select the new AG ," said Mpasu, who was accompanied by the party's Secretary General Kennedy Makwangwala, leader of the party in Parliament George Mtafu, chief whip Leonard Mangulama and a member of the executive Hophmally Makande.

        But Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati said UDF should give offer its advice to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB).

        "They should advise bodies like the Anti-Corruption Bureau to conduct the investigations and why are they saying this now? Is it because Kasambara has been fired? This is not a personal issue. If they have other pressing issues they should just say so. These arguments should have come up earlier on when the said cases were happening," she said.

        Kasambara asked UDF to proceed with the mission of urging government to investigate him.

        "They can do their job. Everyone has a right to lobby for anything they want in the country. UDF has a right to do that, let them go ahead," he said.

        Kasambara was relieved of his duties as AG by the President last week. Government has not given reasons behind the removal.

        *****

        Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land

        The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

        May 18, 2006

        Posted to the web May 19, 2006

        Andrew Lungu

         

        MALAWIANS who have encroached on both the 'no-man's' and part of the Zambian land at the Mwami border in Eastern Province have plucked out some beacons that were used in the demarcation of the border.

        The Malawians are now using the beacons as stools in their newly-established villages on Zambian land.

        Eastern Province Minister, Boniface Nkhata, said in Chipata yesterday that if the situation was not controlled urgently, Zambia would lose huge tracts of land to Malawians migrating into Zambian in large numbers.

        A check at the Zambia-Malawi border showed a number of beacons had been vandalised and new structures constructed on the 'no man's' land and a large portion of Zambian land.

        Mr Nkhata said the trend extended to many parts of the province bordering the two countries.

        "A large portion of Zambian land has been taken up by the Malawians starting from the Chama boundary up to the Mwami border.

        "The weighbridge at the Mwami border was initially in Zambia from the time both countries gained independence from Britain, but now the bridge is on Malawian soil," Mr Nkhata said.

        The minister, who is former Chama District Commissioner, said there was similar encroachment in Lundazi and Chama districts where Zambia shares a boundary with Malawi.

        He said a Malawian farmer identified as Mr Mfune had cultivated 71.5 hectares on Zambian land and employed about 265 Malawian workers.

        "Khombe Farm in Chama district in Kanyerere's area, along the Muyombe road which leads to Northern Province where this Malawian farmer has cultivated a vast land is on the Zambian territory," he said.

        Workers on the farm admitted that they were farming on Zambian soil but could not go back to Malawi because the land in that country was inadequate for cultivation.

        Mr Nkhata appealed to the ministry of Lands to urgently release money for the demarcation of the Zambia-Malawi border to avoid further land disputes between the two countries.

        Meanwhile, the Immigration Department in Livingstone has arrested a couple and another man, all Zimbabweans, for working in Zambia without permits.

        They were arrested at Gwembe village yesterday where they worked for Into Africa, a tour operating company that provides bush dinners and breakfast.

        According to the Immigration Department in Livingstone, the trio entered Zambia through the Victoria Falls border as visitors but decided to work for the company illegally.

        Last week, immigration officers arrested 10 Zimbabwean traders and six Ethiopians for entering and staying in Zambia illegally.

        The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.

        The Ethiopians were arrested at Konje Guest House when they ran out of money to proceed to Botswana.

         

        *****

        Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests

        Harare, Zimbabwe

        22 May 2006 11:51

        Zimbabwe's biggest labour federation on Saturday threatened to call massive demonstrations against the government over poor salaries and worsening living conditions for workers in the country.

        The threats are ratcheting up pressure against President Robert Mugabe's government after similar threats by the biggest opposition party in the country, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), about two months ago.

        Speaking at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) conference on Saturday, the labour body's president, Lovemore Matombo, said the powerful union wants the government to award workers salaries that match the country's ever-rising inflation.

        "I can assure you we will stage massive demonstrations to force them [employers] to award workers minimum salaries that tally with the poverty datum line," said Matombo.

        Matombo did not say when exactly the ZCTU would order workers to strike.

        Opposition protests

        Meanwhile, the MDC on Sunday said it will push ahead with plans for anti-government protests, saying victory in a key by-election at the weekend was a "sign the electorate supported its policies", including democratic mass resistance.

        A spokesperson of the main faction of the splintered MDC, Nelson Chamisa, said victory over Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF and a rival MDC faction in a Saturday by-election in Harare's Budiriro constituency is a sign Zimbabweans still have confidence in party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his policies.

        Tsvangirai, the founding leader of the MDC, heads the main rump of the opposition party whose candidate, Emmanuel Chisvuure, polled 7 949 votes to win the Budiriro House of Assembly seat.

        Gabriel Chaibva of the other faction of the MDC, led by prominent academic Arthur Mutambara, garnered 504 votes while Zanu-PF's Jeremiah Bvirindi polled 3 961 votes.

        "This election showed that the electorate still has confidence in the MDC [Tsvangirai-led] leadership and its policies," Chamisa told independent news service ZimOnline.

        He added: "We will now move to consolidate our position * we still believe in mass protests. Until we have attained our goals we see no reason why we should abandon [plans for protests]."

        Tsvangirai has threatened to call mass protests this winter against Mugabe and his government. He says the mass protests, whose date he is still to name, are meant to force Mugabe to relinquish power to a government of national unity to be tasked to write a new and democratic Constitution that would ensure free and fair elections held under international supervision.

        Mugabe and his government, who had hoped for victory in Budiriro to show they were recapturing urban support from a splintered MDC, have not taken idly the opposition's threats to call mass protests, with the veteran president warning Tsvangirai he would be "dicing with death" if he ever attempted to instigate a Ukraine-style popular revolt in Zimbabwe.

        Crackdown

        In a fresh crackdown against dissension, the police last week arrested several church and civic leaders for organising public prayers and marches to mark last year's controversial home-demolition exercise by the government.

        The police also banned the marches and prayers, fearing they could easily turn into mass protests against Mugabe and his government.

        However, the marches went ahead in the second-largest city of Bulawayo after organisers had obtained a court order barring the police from stopping the march.

        Political analysts say although Zimbabweans have largely been cowed by Mugabe's tactics of routinely deploying riot police and the military to crush street protests, worsening hunger and poverty are fanning public anger that Tsvangirai -- with proper planning and organisation -- could easily manipulate.

        Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe six-year old economic crisis that has seen inflation breaching the 1 000% barrier. Last year, the World Bank said Zimbabwe's economic crisis was unprecedented for a country not at war.

        The MDC and major Western governments blame Mugabe for wrecking the country's economy, which was one of the strongest in Africa at independence from Britain 26 years ago.

        Mugabe denies the charge blaming the crisis on sabotage by Britain and her allies after he seized white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks six years ago.

        The Harare authorities recently hiked salaries for civil servants, with the lowest-paid soldier now earning about Z$27-million while the lowest-paid school teacher now takes home about Z$33-million.

        But the salaries are still way below the poverty datum line, which the government's Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says now stands at a staggering Z$42-million a month for an average family of six.

        The Zimbabwe government often accuses the ZCTU, a strong ally of the MDC, of pushing a political agenda to remove Mugabe from power.

        Meanwhile, Matombo and Lucia Matibenga retained their posts as president and first vice-president respectively during the ZCTU congress that ended on Saturday. -- ZimOnline

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