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  • Christine Chumbler
    Muluzi makes legal history by testifying in court Blantyre 14 March 2003 08:40 President Bakili Muluzi on Thursday became the first sitting Malawi president to
    Message 1 of 1046 , Mar 14, 2003
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      Muluzi makes legal history by testifying in
      court
      Blantyre

      14 March
      2003 08:40

      President Bakili Muluzi on Thursday became the
      first sitting Malawi
      president to appear before a court of law in the
      country's 39 years as an
      independent state.

      Muluzi testified in the Principal Resident
      Magistrate's Court in the capital
      city Lilongwe, against opposition leader Gwanda
      Chakuamba, who has been
      accused of forging his signature. Chakuamba,
      president of the Malawi
      Congress Party and his
      secretary, Grace Mhango have denied the charges.

      Muluzi's testimony watched by scores of his
      supporters, lasted more than
      three hours. He told Magistrate Chifundo Kachale it
      was not his signature on
      a letter describing how to buy votes from
      opposition lawmakers to support
      his bid to change the consitution to allow him a
      third term in office.

      Malawi's ruling party, the United Democratic Front
      is pushing for a
      constitutional amendment to allow Muluzi to contest
      the presidency for a
      third term, when his second five-year term ends in
      2004.

      Whoever forged his signature did it out of malice
      to injure his personal
      reputation, Muluzi said. When questioned about his
      interest in the third term
      campaign, Muluzi became visibly annoyed and refused
      to answer.

      "I am here to testify whether or not I signed this
      letter," he said.

      Defence lawyers complained to the magistrate that
      they felt intimidated
      because whenever they asked the president a
      question, Muluzi's supporters
      booed and jeered.

      Wearing a black suit, Muluzi had earlier arrived at
      the court in a luxury
      German car with cabinet ministers, government
      officials and a horde of
      supporters in tow.

      The case was postponed to April 3 when more
      witnesses are expected to
      testify. An unruffled Muluzi took time to greet
      defence lawyers after the court
      adjourned and even shared a joke with Chakuamba.

      Talking to journalists, Muluzi said he had
      testified to show he respected the
      rule of law. "Malawi's democracy has pillars and
      one of them is the judiciary.
      I am citizen number one and I thought I should set
      an example. I'm not
      above the law. In any case I wasn't on trial," he
      said.

      He joked about his grilling by defence lawyers and
      said: "As lawyers do,
      they had a field day today. But I enjoyed it."

      As the president drove away from the courthouse his
      supporters cheered
      him and chanted "Aimanso! Aimanso" ("He will stand
      again! He will stand
      again.")

      Security was tight with anybody entering the court
      thoroughly frisked. A
      group of the ruling party's militant youth,
      notorious for beating up Muluzi's
      opponents, was present but there were no incidents.
      - Sapa-AP

      *****

      Muluzi Reprimands UDF Youth Wing

      UN Integrated Regional Information
      Networks
      March 13, 2003
      Posted to the web March 13, 2003

      Johannesburg

      Human rights groups on Thursday said while it welcomed moves by
      President Bakili Muluzi to reign in the youth wing of the ruling party,
      often
      accused of politically motivated violence, the president had not gone
      far
      enough to ensure a safe environment for the opposition.

      On Tuesday Muluzi rebuked the "Young Democrats", saying the United
      Democratic Front (UDF) youth wing had "tarnished the image of the
      party".

      French news agency AFP quoted Muluzi as saying: "I will not allow the
      Young Democrats to terrorise people. They are destroying the image of
      the
      party and my own because it is like I send them to beat people."

      Muluzi has in the past stopped short of condemning the "Young
      Democrats" behaviour, despite growing evidence of their involvement in
      numerous incidents of violence and intimidation against opposition
      supporters. His remarks reportedly came a week after five rights
      groups
      asked him to disband the "Young Democrats", accusing the youth group
      of
      "barbaric" acts against the opposition.

      "We are glad that the president has finally acknowledged the
      involvement
      of the Young Democrats in these acts of violence most of which are
      politically motivated. However, we hope the president will be taken
      very
      seriously on this issue," Director of the Centre for Human Rights and
      Rehabilitation Ollen Mwalubunju told IRIN.

      Moreover, the youth group appeared to enjoy immunity from police
      prosecution whenever they perpetrated political violence, he added.

      "But apart from this instruction to the youth, the president must also
      make
      an appeal to the chief of police to take the necessary steps to
      apprehend
      those involved in such acts," Mwalubunju said.

      The southern African country has increasingly become politically
      polarised.
      Central to that process has been an official campaign begun in 2002 to
      change the constitution to allow Muluzi to run for a third five-year
      term in
      2004. Two attempts to pass a constitutional amendment failed, in the
      face
      of widespread civil society protest determined to defend what they
      alleged
      was a threat to the country's fledgling democracy.

      Mwalubunju also noted an increase in the number of assaults on rights
      activists. "Just three days ago Robeson Chimtengo, an NGO programme
      manager, was attacked at his home. His organisation has in the past
      been
      a vocal opponent of Muluzi's third term bid. We hope that other
      political
      parties also receive the president's message that the youth should not
      used to conduct violence but instead be used for meaningful things in
      the
      country," he said.

      *****

      Zimbabwe to change repressive media laws
      Harare
      12 March
      2003 16:27

      Zimbabwe will soon amend its controversial media
      laws in a bid to
      'rationalise' them, Information Minister Jonathan
      Moyo said on Wednesday.

      "We believe that different situations require
      different responses," Moyo told
      senior army officers at the Zimbabwe National Army
      training college.

      The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
      Act came into being
      last March, days after President Robert Mugabe had
      been re-elected in
      disputed polls.

      He did not give details of the changes to the law
      which has seen more than
      a dozen journalists so far arrested and charged for
      allegedly breaching of the
      act.

      "We are amending because we realise at the time we
      enacted it the
      temperatures were very high, but when the storm has
      gone you sit back and
      rationalise and we are sitting back to rationalise
      because the storm is
      gone," Moyo said.

      He added that it was necessary at the time to
      introduce such tough laws "to
      send a very clear and unequivocal message and we
      believe it has (been
      sent)".

      Under the press laws all newspapers, reporters,
      media houses and outlets
      have to be registered with a special
      government-appointed commission.

      Moyo said there were also plans to amend the
      Broadcasting Services Act
      which broke a monopoly held by the state radio and
      television station.

      However there has not been much evidence on the
      ground of the opening up
      of the airwaves two years after that law was
      introduced.

      He said the changes would result in the setting up
      of another national radio
      to compete with the state broadcaster and many
      community radio stations.

      Moyo announced that the government is setting up
      information kiosks in
      traditionally information-starved rural areas.

      "We are going to see a lot of activity on this and
      we expect our detractors to
      scream about this because they will realise the
      impact it is going to have,"
      he said.

      Moyo accused some media of waging hate campaigns
      from abroad -- an
      apparent reference to SW Radio Africa based in
      Britain.

      Moyo also called a move last week by US President
      George Bush to freeze
      assets belonging to President Robert Mugabe and 76
      of his government
      officials another propaganda tool by the West bent
      on serving white interests
      in Zimbabwe.

      "They have frozen these assets 10 times over, they
      keep freezing them.
      Even a child can read that kind of propaganda," he
      said. - Sapa-AFP

      *****

      Mugabe's 'appropriate demise'
      Harare
      14 March
      2003 08:49

      A state witness in the treason trial of Zimbabwe
      opposition leader Morgan
      Tsvangirai claimed on Thursday that President
      Robert Mugabe's death by
      natural causes was an "appropriate demise" for the
      head of state discussed
      at a key meeting.

      This was the testimony given by the second state
      witness, Tara Thomas in
      the ongoing treason trial of opposition leader,
      Morgan Tsvangirai, and two
      senior party officials accused of plotting to kill
      Mugabe.

      Thomas, an assistant at Dickens and Madson, the
      Canada-based
      consultancy firm which implicated the opposition
      trio in the alleged plot, said
      a natural death had been suggested by one Edward
      Simms at a meeting in
      Montreal, in December 2001, where Tsvangirai
      allegedly requested
      Mugabe's elimination.

      "Natural cause will be the appropriate demise for
      our friend," Thomas claims
      Simms told Tsvangirai at that meeting. She was
      giving her version of what
      was said on a barely audible video tape that had
      been secretly made of the
      four hour-long meeting. The tape is seen as crucial
      evidence in the state's
      case.

      The opposition trio deny the treason charges and
      claim they were set up by
      Dickens and Madson, which has been linked to
      Mugabe's ruling party, to
      sideline the opposition ahead of 2001 presidential
      elections.

      They face the death penalty if convicted. Thomas,
      who earlier this week
      alleged that Tsvangirai wanted Mugabe's
      assassination to look like an
      accident, said on Thursday the opposition leader
      also wanted Dickens and
      Madson to arrange discussions between his party and
      the army, "He
      wanted us to arrange some kind of communication
      between the army and
      the MDC," she said.

      The court heard that Tsvangirai wanted the vice
      president to form a
      transitional government with the MDC. On an audible
      portion of the tape
      played on Thursday, Tsvangirai is heard to say a
      transitional phase should
      be the foundation for "a clean election", and that
      the military should not step
      in to fill the breach, but remain impartial
      guarantors of peace and stability.

      "In my view, that would be the most stable way to
      proceed and, in my view,
      it will not raise suspicions," Tsvangirai was heard
      to say in the recording.

      Thomas also alleged that Mugabe's elimination was
      to take place within 10
      days of the December 4 meeting in Montreal. The
      treason trial, which is now
      in its fifth week, has already heard the testimony
      of Ari Ben Menashe, the
      head of Dickens and
      Madson. Another nine state witnesses are due to
      testify. - Sapa-AFP

      *****

      Buthelezi breaks his silence on Zimbabwe
      Ben Maclennan | Cape Town

      13 March
      2003 08:06

      Home Affairs Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi has
      taken his Zimbabwean
      counterpart to task for what he called the "rapidly
      degenerating" political
      situation in that country, saying it could lead to
      a flood of refugees.

      He has also called for an explanation of what
      Zimbabwe plans to do to avert
      economic collapse and to guarantee the "freedom and
      safety" of its citizens.

      His pointed remarks -- considerably more outspoken
      than anything his
      Cabinet colleagues have ever ventured -- were part
      of a prepared statement
      he read out when the two men met at his office in
      Cape Town on
      Wednesday to discuss border issues.

      However the Zimbabwean minister, Kembo Mohadi,
      brushed aside
      Buthelezi's concerns, saying claims of a
      deterioration were a figment of the
      imagination.

      In the document, which he released to the media,
      Buthelezi said that as
      home affairs minister he was "concerned" about
      issues of asylum and
      refugee status.

      "The rapidly deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe's
      democratic and
      institutional life may force my department to deal
      with an ever increasing
      number of asylum applications of Zimbabwean
      citizens.

      "We need to adjudicate these applications in terms
      of international law and
      on the basis of objective criteria of well-found
      fears of persecution in a
      country which, according to the applicants, no
      longer offers them human
      rights protection and the guarantees of the rule of
      law."

      He said that as Zimbabwe's neighbour, South Africa
      was committed to help
      solve its problems. South Africa, he said, had been
      told that health services
      in Zimbabwe were in dire straits, increasing the
      link between the spread of
      communicable diseases, including HIV/Aids, and
      population movement.

      "Any major exodus which may occur will almost
      inevitably burden our
      medical health delivery system," he said.

      The state of the Zimbabwean economy was also a
      matter of "great concern"
      from a migration viewpoint. He had been advised by
      the International
      Organisation for Migration that the South African
      government should make
      contingency plans to deal with a possible emergency
      in Zimbabwe which
      would spill over into South Africa.

      "I have avoided making any such plans with a
      significant public profile, in
      order not to increase the real or perceived
      problems that Zimbabwe is
      experiencing," he said.

      "However, on this occasion I would appreciate
      receiving an indication of what
      Zimbabwe is planning to do to prevent an economic
      collapse, to ensure food
      security and to guarantee the freedom and safety of
      its citizens so as to
      avoid the possibility of a mass influx into South
      Africa."

      But Mohadi, questioned by journalists at a joint
      media briefing with
      Buthelezi after the talks, said he did not share
      Buthelezi's concern about
      the deterioration of democracy. "There is nothing
      that is said to be
      deteriorating in terms of political situation, the
      human rights side of it. What
      is obtaining in Zimbabwe is that a situation has
      been created between the
      two countries Zimbabwe and Britain, and this is a
      bilateral issue."

      "There is no disorder in Zimbabwe, everything there
      is just a figment of
      anybody's imagination.

      "A case in point is the [World Cup] cricket matches
      that took place in
      Zimbabwe.

      "Everybody was against... that there is no security
      in Zimbabwe and that
      people should not play in Zimbabwe. Those countries
      that went to play in
      Zimbabwe are witnesses today that there is security
      in Zimbabwe, there is
      peace in Zimbabwe.

      "You don't see anybody walking around in Zimbabwe
      carrying a gun
      etcetera. So the situation in Zimbabwe is a normal
      situation."

      Zimbabwe's problem was that it was under sanctions,
      which led to
      shortages "here and there" and an increasing burden
      of unemployment.
      Mohadi also said he did not believe any Zimbabweans
      came to South Africa
      on the pretext of seeking political asylum.

      Before the Zimbabwean presidential election last
      year, South Africa and
      other countries were asked to prepare for an influx
      of refugees seeking
      asylum, but that did not materialise.

      "Where will they come from?" he asked. "There is no
      war in Zimbabwe. You
      don't see anybody going around carrying a gun in
      Zimbabwe. It's even more
      peaceful maybe than in South Africa. You can sleep
      in the street and no
      one will ever harm you there...

      "We're so much demonised that everyone thinks we
      are a certain animal
      with no brains."

      Buthelezi declined at the media conference to
      comment on the divergence
      of views with Mohadi, saying he did not want to
      enter into a "slanging
      match".

      Human rights groups have accused Zimbabwean
      President Robert Mugabe's
      government of an organised campaign of political
      repression and terror, of
      subverting the independence of the judiciary and
      undermining media
      freedom.

      The country's economy is in tatters, with endemic
      fuel shortages and a
      rampant inflation rate, problems that critics lay
      at the door of government
      mismanagement rather than outside factors.

      Meanwhile, the United States said on Wednesday it
      would lead a campaign
      to condemn Zimbabwe for what it called flagrant and
      ruinous human rights
      abuses at the upcoming meeting of the UN Human
      Rights Commission
      (UNHCR).

      In addition, Washington said it would work to
      convince the international
      community, especially Zimbabwe's neighbors, to
      ratchet up pressure on
      President Robert Mugabe and his aides to end their
      repressive behavior and
      press them to hold "early free and fair
      elections."

      To that end, the State Department released a glossy
      16-page pamphlet
      entitled "Zimbabwe's Man-made Crisis" documenting a
      litany of abuses
      committed by the country's leadership since
      independence in 1980.

      "Mugabe has brought the country of Zimbabwe untold
      suffering," said Scott
      Carpenter, an official in the department's Bureau
      of Democracy, Human
      Rights and Labor which published the booklet.

      "By riding roughshod over the political and human
      rights of his fellow
      Zimbabweans, by demonstrating his total disregard
      for human rights and
      democracy, Robert Mugabe has succeeded in reducing
      a once-promising
      nation with a bright future to a state of ruin,
      desolation and isolation," he
      said.

      The booklet, distributed just five days after US
      President George Bush
      ordered frozen the assets of Mugabe and 76 other
      Zimbabwean officials, is
      to be widely distributed at the annual meeting of
      the UNHCR which gets
      underway next week, he said.

      "We hope it will have a strong impact and stir a
      vigorous debate," Carpenter
      said.

      Senior State Department officials said they hoped
      to lobby South Africa and
      other African countries on the 53-nation commission
      to sponsor a resolution
      condemning Zimbabwe at the meeting.

      But, if unsuccessful in doing that, the officials
      said the United States,
      backed by Britain and some Latin American countries
      might sponsor a
      resolution themselves.

      South Africa, which has pursued a policy of "quiet
      diplomacy" toward
      Zimbabwe and along with Nigeria has called for
      lifting Harare's suspension
      from the Commonwealth, is unlikely to sponsor such
      a resolution, they said.

      That wavering, coupled with France's invitation for
      Mugabe to visit Paris for a
      French-African summit last month despite an EU
      travel ban, threaten to
      undermine the effectiveness of the sanctions, the
      officials said.

      "Now is not the time to lift the sanctions," said
      Mark Bellamy, a senior
      official in the State Department's Bureau of
      African Affairs.

      "This is the time that we need to apply maximum
      pressure on the
      government of Zimbabwe to abandon these repressive
      policies and to begin
      a process of liberalization leading to early free
      and fair elections," he said. -
      Sapa, AFP

      *****

      Zimbabwe truck drivers flirt with death
      Maputo

      14 March
      2003 12:52

      Zimbabwean truck drivers who frequent prostitutes
      when they work in
      neighbouring Mozambique are at high risk of
      catching the deadly virus that
      causes Aids because they are "forced" to have
      unprotected sex, state
      television reported Friday.

      Several drivers interviewed by Mozambique
      Television (TVM) in the central
      province of Manica, which borders Zimbabwe, said
      the prostitutes never
      want them to use condoms and that they were forced
      to have unprotected
      sex.

      "After being away from home for a long time we end
      up having sex with them
      unprotected", said one driver who asked not to be
      named. Another
      Zimbabwean driver said "prostitutes here would
      hardly accept sexual
      intercourse with a condom, therefore we face the
      risk of HIV infections".

      TVM said the Manica town of Catandica, in the
      central district of Barrue, is
      the most frequented by prostitutes because many
      foreign truck drivers,
      including Malawians and Zambians, pass through on
      their way to the port
      city of Beira.

      Catandica has the highest infection rate of
      HIV/Aids in Mozambique.
      Meanwhile, Zimbabwean prostitutes, who have been
      hard hit by the
      economic crisis at home, are reportedly flooding
      into the central
      Mozambican province.

      One prostitute told a local newspaper "the market
      here is good and
      Mozambicans do not hesitate to pay". - Sapa-AFP

      *****

      [and this is pretty awful]

      Latrine deaths over Kenyan cell phone
      Three men have died trying to
      retrieve a mobile phone from a
      pit latrine in the Kenyan town of
      Mombasa.

      University student Dora Mwabela
      dropped the phone into the latrine
      while she was answering a call of
      nature, the Daily Nation newspaper
      reports.

      She offered a reward of 1,000
      shillings ($13) for anyone who could recover the
      phone, worth 6,000
      shillings.

      Most Kenyans survive on less than $1 a day.

      First, recently married radio technician Patrick
      Luhakha, 30, tried to get
      the phone back.

      Not found

      He ripped up the toilet floor before going down a
      ladder into the latrine.

      After a while, nothing more was
      heard from him and a neighbour,
      Kevin Wambua, went to check on his
      friend.

      He then slipped and fell into the
      putrid mess and was also unable to
      get out.

      A third man, John Solo, then tried to rescue the two,
      while policemen
      stood and watched, the paper reports.

      He collapsed while halfway down the ladder and
      neighbours managed to
      haul him to the surface but he died on his way to
      hospital.

      A fourth man had to be held back from trying to rescue
      his two friends
      by acting Mombasa Police chief Peter Njenga.

      "We would have been talking of four dead," Mr Njenga
      said.

      "The fumes inside must be extremely poisonous
      considering the short
      time it was taking to disable the retrievers," he
      said.

      The cell phone was not found.
    • 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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