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  • Christine Chumbler
    Mixed Prospects for Food Security Malawi Standard (Blantyre) March 22, 2003 Posted to the web March 24, 2003 Standard Reporter & Agencies Blantyre, Malawi Food
    Message 1 of 1046 , Mar 25, 2003
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      Mixed Prospects for Food Security

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
      March 22, 2003
      Posted to the web March 24, 2003

      Standard Reporter & Agencies
      Blantyre, Malawi

      Food production prospects in Southern Africa are mixed with some areas
      showing signs of recovery from the devastating drought-induced
      shortages
      that struck the region last year.

      Most of Zimbabwe, southern and central Mozambique, parts of southern
      Zambia and Malawi and northern South Africa, have been particularly
      affected by below normal rains. The outlook for maize production in
      these
      areas range from mediocre to poor, the latest Southern African
      Development Community (SADC) Food Security Ministerial Brief warned.

      However, preliminary forecasts released by a
      number of countries and by the SADC
      Regional Early Warning Unit, show that in
      countries most affected by production
      shortfalls last year - which have been receiving
      emergency food assistance - maize
      production is expected to be better than last
      season. In some countries it could be well
      above normal production.

      Maize production in Zambia and Zimbabwe
      could be more than 50 percent above last year's poor yields.

      Despite some dry areas in southern Zambia, national maize production
      could exceed the past five year average, with the national cereal gap
      reduced by nearly 60 percent if cassava is included in the food
      balance
      analysis.

      Despite the late start to the seasonal rains in Zambia, national maize
      production could be up by one third from last year, although some
      southern areas have been affected by below normal rains and water
      stress. The current outstanding food gap is expected to be partially
      met
      through continued informal cross-border trade, SADC researchers said.

      But in spite of improved production in Zimbabwe, national output is
      unlikely
      to be more than half of normal production, the report noted. It added
      that
      the food crisis had been exacerbated by a severe economic downturn and
      "policies that inhibit production, importation and distribution of
      basic
      commodities".

      Despite import levels that suggest improved national food security,
      the
      situation on the ground "remains dire" for a very large number of
      rural
      households. Production prospects are poor due to the reduced area
      planted, shortages of essential inputs and poor rainfall in central
      and
      southern areas.

      Maize production in Angola, Malawi and Lesotho is expected to be up by
      30
      to 40 percent compared with last year, and above or very close to
      long-term average production levels, the report said. In Lesotho,
      though,
      maize prices are high and spending power is low.

      In Botswana, Mozambique and Namibia, production is likely to be down.
      Mozambique has been seriously affected by low rainfall in southern and
      some central areas, and by excessive rains leading to flooding in the
      central and northern regions.

      In Swaziland, commercial import deliveries have been far below
      expectations, raising concerns of further price increases from January
      to
      March. High temperatures in some areas and hailstorms in the south
      indicate that maize production is unlikely to be better than last
      year.

      The report noted that during the course of a normal rainy season, the
      SADC region is typically affected by dry spells in some areas and
      excessive rains in others. Starting at the end of December, heavy
      rains
      and the effects of cyclone Delfina led to flooding and damage over
      parts of
      the region badly affecting people in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.

      With the marketing year beginning in April or May in most SADC
      countries,
      initial estimates show that the region could have a surplus of 779,000
      metric tonnes of maize this year, compared with a 1.5 million metric
      deficit
      last year.

      But to fully replenish strategic reserves, the region will need to
      import
      nearly one million metric tonnes of maize. Last year 3.2 million
      metric
      tonnes was needed.

      The report said the main reasons for the improved situation this year
      was
      the prospect of increased production by over 800,000 metric tonnes and
      much higher levels of opening stocks in some countries, particularly
      South
      Africa, Malawi and Botswana. Malawi might even meet its consumption
      requirements without imports and South Africa is expecting to have
      considerable export capacity this year. IRIN/Malawi Standard

      *****

      Malawi Revenue Authority in Anti-Graft War

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
      March 22, 2003
      Posted to the web March 24, 2003

      By Tusekele Mwanyongo
      Blantyre, Malawi

      Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA), the government revenue collection body
      has acted swiftly to sweep corruption and bribery at the institution
      by
      joining hands with the Anti-Corruption Bureau.

      MRA Acting Commissioner General, Ernest Mtingwi disclosed recently
      that
      his Authority has entered into a strategic relationship with the
      Anti-Corruption Bureau to fight rampant corruption among tax officers.

      Mtingwi said ending corruption at MRA would
      boost revenue collection.

      MRA's Commissioner of Surtax, Chrispin
      Kulemeka, said it is high time a thorough
      screening exercise is done when recruiting
      officers for strategic public positions.

      "It seems that even if you give some officers
      adequate financial benefits, they are still prone
      to corruption. It's becoming something to do
      with one's moral character, and no longer an issue of poverty," he
      says.

      "Corruption remains the main obstacle towards maximising revenue
      collection, Kulemeka said.

      He said the MRA is making all efforts to check the growing
      malpractice,
      saying corruption in the revenue collection exercise is evil as it
      retards the
      country's economic development.

      In its quest to arrest the growing syndrome, the MRA has engaged
      international consultants, Bannock, to review MRA's corporate
      structure
      and recommend effective and viable alterations.

      "Bannock are also reviewing MRA employee's remuneration in order to
      give them reasonable packages to take them through the whole month.
      What we would like to implement is a remuneration that is pegged
      against
      a foreign currency so that when we experience fluctuations in our
      currency
      our employees income should not be affected. We hope that is a step
      towards addressing the issue of corruption in MRA," he says, but adds
      that
      an anti-corruption policy adopted at MRA also provides for a thorough
      screening of new people eyed for admission into the MRA family.

      MRA is also in the process of implementing what he described as the
      'robust discipline system.' This is meant to drastically discipline
      officers
      that indulge in corrupt practices.

      Kulemeka said officers found receiving bribes or aiding taxpayers to
      contravene customs laws are dismissed instantly.

      MRA is also implementing a system whereby one person is not allowed to
      complete a particular job.

      "We are approaching our public responsibility zero tolerance to
      corruption,"
      he said, adding that so far over 30 officers have been dismissed on
      suspicion of being corrupt.

      Kulemeka says another measure that MRA is implementing to discourage
      corruption and customs duty evasion is through a staff exchange
      programme. Under this programme, MRA is discouraging officers from
      staying at one station for too long, as crooked people entice the
      officers
      into corruption.

      "When a person has an accomplice at a station, they automatically know
      they will be able to bribe them. So this staff exchange programme is
      aimed
      to reduce such friendships. Officers will have to rotate," he says.

      *****

      Escom, Blantyre Water Board Blame Each Other

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
      March 22, 2003
      Posted to the web March 24, 2003

      By Tusekele Mwanyongo
      Blantyre, Malawi

      Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) has advised Blantyre
      Water Board (BWB) against blaming the electricity utility supplier for
      the
      water board's own shortfalls.

      Escom's Director of Generation, Dappa Chapalapata told journalists at
      Nkula Hydroelectric Power Station that it is unfortunate that BWB
      always
      tells its clients that they have not been able to supply them with
      water
      because of power failure when some times that is not the case.

      The journalists had been invited to see the impact of a burst pipe on
      the
      Nkula B power station, which forced Escom to implement electricity
      load
      shading.

      "Yes, it is true that BWB uses our electricity to pump water to
      Blantyre but
      they have their own problems, like siltation that sometimes affects
      water
      supply," Chapalapata said.

      Escom are currently repairing the Nkula B power station, which
      generates
      about 40 percent of the electricity the country uses. All five
      generators,
      which generate 20 megawatts each, are out of use and it will take a
      couple
      of months and a lot of money to repair them.

      "Indeed, we are hard-pressed to ensure that we don't disturb the
      operations of our clients. But we wonder why other clients like BWB
      would
      like to blame us when they have their own operational shortfalls,"
      Chapalatapata said.

      He said Escom does not store electricity. The electricity generated is
      instantly distributed to the country.

      "However, it is easy to store water in reservoirs. Surely, when BWB
      encounter any operational hiccups, like power failure, they should
      still be
      able to supply water to residents of Blantyre," he argued, suggesting
      that if
      BWB were serious enough, they would identify a strategic higher place,
      like the Ndirande Mountain, where they would erect huge reserve tanks
      and
      use gravitational force to still distribute water to consumers in time
      of
      power failure.

      The Escom official argued that BWB's critical problem at the main
      pumping place at Nkula, the Walkers' Ferry, is siltation. There is, he
      said, a
      lot of mud at the main intake that is disturbing the flow of the Shire
      River.

      An official at Walkers Ferry still insisted Escom were to blame for
      disturbances in water supply. He said BWB rely on electricity to pump
      water, and if there is power failure, it automatically means that the
      water
      supply system will also be affected.

      "It all boils down to the unsure power supply. If we had power
      throughout,
      we wouldn't be talking of water supply problems," he said, and asked
      for
      anonymity.

      The BWB official, however, concurred with the Escom official on the
      need
      to establish a back-up facility on Ndirande Mountain. He however said
      that
      would require a lot of money, which BWB can hardly raise at the
      moment.

      "That idea is what we have at Mudi Dam. However, the Mudi Dam is too
      small hence we are unable to rely only on it when we have a problem at
      Walkers Ferry," he said.

      *****

      Comesa Vital for Economic Growth, Says Muluzi

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
      March 22, 2003
      Posted to the web March 24, 2003

      By Tusekele Mwanyongo
      Blantyre

      Malawi stands to benefit from economic development by being part of
      regional bodies, like the Common Market for Eastern and Southern
      Africa
      (Comesa), President Bakili Muluzi has said.

      Briefing the press last Tuesday on arrival at Chileka Airport,
      Blantyre, from
      a day-Comesa Heads of State and Government annual summit, held in
      Khartoum, Sudan, Muluzi said this country needs to consolidate its
      participatory policy in international affairs in order to enhance
      economic
      development through trade and investment. He said this is why he went
      to
      attend the summit in Khartoum.

      "Indeed, I went to Sudan to attend the summit where member countries
      tackled a number of issues. It was well attended," the President said,
      explaining that top on agenda was Comesa's quest to form a regional
      position on the question of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). There
      will be WTO members' meeting in Mexico later this year, which Malawi
      will
      attend, according to Muluzi.

      However, Muluzi said the summit's theme 'Comesa, Towards Customs
      Union' set another important subject of discussion, as it tarried with
      the
      grouping's core objectives.

      The President said Comesa members discussed the way forward in
      terms of making Comesa a free customs area.

      Currently Comesa has a free trade area and only nine out of the total
      20
      Comesa members are part of it. In essence, these countries agreed to
      remove tariffs on vital imports and exports.

      Muluzi said that although Comesa membership is voluntary, members of
      the region who have not joined Comesa are being urged to think about
      joining the organisation because the merits far outweigh the demerits.

      The Malawi leader said the Khartoum summit also touched on other
      urgent
      issues such as conflicts and food insecurity in many member states.

      On conflicts, the President said they discussed what role Comesa could
      play in conflict resolution in countries like Angola, Rwanda, Burundi
      and
      Somalia, among others.

      On food security, Muluzi said the summit resolved that member
      countries
      should explore ways of ensuring food security by, among other things,
      putting to optimum use the vast natural water resources available.
      Irrigation, he said, could be one of the most definite answers to the
      problem of hunger.

      The President also said that members at the Comesa summit declared
      their outright stand against sanctions imposed by Western nations on
      Zimbabwe. He said he personally felt that isolating Zimbabwe would not
      solve the Zimbabwe crisis, but rather engaging that country's
      government
      in a formal dialogue.

      "It's unfortunate if indeed the Commonwealth has extended Zimbabwe's
      suspension to another nine months. We chose a troika comprising
      leaders
      of Australia, Nigeria and South Africa to look into the Zimbabwe
      issue.
      Now, two of the members did not agree to the proposal to suspend
      Zimbabwe and the Commonwealth has been contacting individual
      members on this issue. As a matter of principle and procedure, that
      was
      not correct," the president said.

      Muluzi reminded journalists that Commonwealth is a club of the former
      British Commonwealth and there would be very little gain by suspending
      one member.

      "We should be building the Commonwealth and not breaking it," he said.

      President Omar Hassan Al Bashir of Sudan became the new Chair, with
      Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni as Vice. Museveni will host
      next year's summit in Uganda's Capital, Kampala.

      Malawi hosted the 1995 summit when Comesa was born replacing the
      Preferential Trade Area (PTA) established in 1981.

      There have been many members joining the grouping since its
      transformation in Lilongwe. Commerce and Trade have tremendously
      risen, but according, to Muluzi, there is still more that the region
      has to
      achieve through strong trade integration. He cited the improvement of
      the
      manufacturing sector in the member countries as very crucial in
      Comesa's quest to competing effectively on the world market.

      *****

      Armageddon Band Press for Pay From NDA
      Pressure Group

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
      March 22, 2003
      Posted to the web March 24, 2003

      Paul Kang'ombe
      Blantyre

      Members of the Armageddon Band, a musical group for Billy Kaunda has
      put pressure on the pressure group, the National Democratic Alliance
      (NDA), to pay them their K30,000.

      The unregistered pressure group led by former minister Brown
      Mpinganjira
      owes Billy Kaunda and the Armageddon Band after the group's
      performance at the NDA's rally held on Sunday, February 9, 2003, at
      Njamba Freedom Park in Blantyre.

      Although Kaunda has failed to collect the
      money several times from NDA Leader Brown
      Mpinganjira, he said he will continue playing for
      the pressure group.

      "I will continue performing live shows for the
      NDA even on credit as long as I am assured
      that they would give me my money one day.
      They (NDA) are my brothers and sisters," said
      Kaunda.

      A source in the Armageddon Band explained in an interview that Kaunda
      is
      facing obstacles to collect the cash from the NDA leader.

      "Whenever Billy calls on his mobile phone, Mpinganjira tells him,
      "Achimwene mundiyimbire nthawi yina ndatanganidwa meaning call me
      later I am busy," said the source.

      The band member disclosed that some Armageddon Band members have
      been putting pressure on Kaunda to declare his political position.
      That
      would enable them to decide to play for NDA or not in its future
      rallies.

      "Mpinganjira thought that Billy would be a crowd puller to his rally
      which
      indeed was true. People came to watch the live performance and had
      nothing to do with NDA rally," said the source.

      *****

      Parliament to Impeach Second Deputy Speaker

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
      March 22, 2003
      Posted to the web March 24, 2003

      By Brian Ligomeka
      Blantyre, Malawi

      Reports from National Assembly indicate that chances are high that the
      next sitting of Parliament is likely to impeach the House's Second
      Deputy
      Speaker, Bester Majoni, following his sex scandal.

      Majoni was caught red-handed having sex with the wife of his junior,
      MCP
      Regional Supporters' Chairman for the Centre, Mr Jaji Banda in Room 7
      at
      Ajawa Lodge in Lilongwe.

      Parliament picked up the issue after The
      Malawi Standard newspaper comprehensively
      reported the scandal, in which Majoni used his
      positions as Second Deputy Speaker of
      Parliament, MCP Regional Chairman for the
      Centre and that of Member of Parliament to flirt
      with Jaji Banda's wife, Rose (nee Kawale).

      Majoni's love affair with Mrs Rose Banda has
      destroyed the 19-year-old marriage of Jaji and
      his wife who both have had six children
      together.

      Following the media reports about the sex scandal, Parliament moved a
      motion to have Majoni impeached as Second Deputy Speaker for bringing
      the office of his position into disrepute.

      Debate and subsequent voting on the impeachment of Majoni was put on
      hold in order to give Parliament a chance to investigate the matter.

      Our well placed and reliable sources at Parliament including one MCP
      member have indicated that a number of people were summoned by a
      seven member Special Committee of Parliament, chaired by Speaker of
      the National Assembly, Sam Mpasu, to testify about the scandal.

      Our source who is a Malawi Congress Party legislator and was member of
      the Special Committee told The Malawi Standard many people testified
      against Majoni. Those who testified included Mr Jaji Banda, Bester
      Majoni,
      Mrs Rose Banda, the owner and three employees of Ajawa Lodge.

      "There was drama when the Special Committee summoned all the
      witnesses early this month. One employee of Ajawa Lodge told the
      committee that Mr Majoni and Mrs Banda were their regular customers,"
      said our source.

      "I can't believe to hear that this woman is the wife of Mr Jaji Banda.
      As far
      as I am concerned she is Majoni's wife," said one employee of Ajawa
      Lodge.

      He said that he is convinced beyond reasonable doubt that Majoni would
      be dismissed from his position as Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament
      because the Special Committee was told point blank that Majoni and Mrs
      Rose Banda have a conjugal relationship.

      Apart from Mpasu, other members of the special committee included
      Louis
      Chimango (MCP), Frank Namangale (UDF MP) and Mr Chisanu (Deputy
      Clerk of Parliament).

      There are reports that Parliament is likely to meet either towards the
      end of
      this month or next April and one of the issues to be debated would be
      the
      impeachment of Majoni for his moral turpitude act.

      *****

      Malawian Reggae Musician Cuts Album

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)
      MUSIC REVIEW
      March 22, 2003
      Posted to the web March 24, 2003

      By Dickson Kashoti
      Blantyre

      Former Zigzaggers vocalist Henry Subiri, has gone solo and has since
      cut
      his debut album Scumber Volume One, which he has recorded with
      pro-Sounds Studio in Bangwe, Blantyre.

      The 10-track album is a combination of both tradition and exotic
      music.

      Songs in the album are Ndinu ananga, a piece
      of advice for a parent to her children who have
      now grown up. The reggae song reminds the
      children of what the parent used to tell them of
      good manners and now that they are grown
      up, they disregard the very same thing the
      parent used to advise them against.

      The second hit in the album is a love song,
      Rozaline. The tradition song is a real love
      song. A man lover is worried that he no longer
      stays with his girlfriend who is away. He reminds her of the love they
      had
      when they were together.

      Thirty-year-old Subiri seems to be in love himself although he denies
      it. But
      his composition Ndi maluwa in which he advises men to avoid falling in
      love any how due to the HIV/AIDS scourge and Nsungwana ndimakukonda
      speaks it all.

      Other songs in the album include Polokadiya nyonyo, which is a Sena
      composition, Amphera njiru, Woe Africa, Bind us together Lord,
      Muzindikumbukira and Tijiye Ngoma.

      The album has put Subiri as one of the great names in music circles.

      In an interview, Subiri said he has paid K25,000 to have the album out
      and
      thanked Mr and Mrs Henry Suliwa who stays in Chigumula, Blantyre for
      the
      assistance.

      The album has been produced by Chuma Soko.

      Subiri started his music career with Rukuru before joining Acacius,
      which
      later disbanded and he went to Zigzaggers.

      He has played with big names in music like Ben Michael, Ethel Kamwendo
      and Erick Paliani.

      *****

      US slams Mugabe's 'black Hitler' speech
      Washington

      25 March
      2003 07:56

      The United States on Monday accused Zimbabwe's
      government of
      unleashing a new wave of violence against the
      opposition, which it said was
      incited when President Robert Mugabe compared
      himself to Adolf Hitler.

      "The United States strongly condemns the
      unprecedented violence carried
      out by the Zimbabwe government against domestic
      opponents," said State
      Department representative Richard Boucher in a
      statement.

      "Over the past three days, the Government of
      Zimbabwe has embarked on a
      massive retribution campaign against opposition
      officials, supporters, and
      other critics of the regime."

      The statement, which will further taint
      Washington-Harare realtions, said
      "the upsurge in official violence is directly
      attributable to President Mugabe's
      speech last Friday in which he said he could be a
      'black Hitler ten fold' in
      crushing his opponents."

      Mugabe noted in the speech that he had been
      compared to the former Nazi
      leader in the British press, and said he was ready
      to embrace such a role.
      "This Hitler has only one objective: justice for
      his people, sovereignty for his
      people, recognitition of the independence of his
      people and their rights over
      their resources," he said.

      "If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler
      tenfold."

      The State Department said that the violence and
      intimidation followed last
      week's work stoppage by the main opposition party
      the Movement for
      Democratic Change.

      "The United States demands that the Zimbabwe
      government immediately
      cease its campaign of violent repression," Boucher
      said.

      A police representative in Harare said Sunday that
      400 opposition members
      had been arrested since the strike and most were
      charged with malicious
      injury to property.

      Buses were stoned and burnt, roads barricaded,
      supermarkets torched and
      a ruling party office fire-bombed during and after
      the two-day strike.

      Boucher said the violence saw many opposition
      members beaten and in
      some cases tortured, adding that one person had
      died and women were
      sexually assaulted by police or military officers.
      The United States said
      earlier this month that it would sponsor a campaign
      to censure Zimbabwe's
      behavior at the UN Human Rights
      Commission.

      President George Bush has frozen the assets of
      Mugabe and 76 other
      government officials, charging they have undermined
      democracy. -
      Sapa-AFP
    • 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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