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  • Christine Chumbler
    Picture Grim On HIV/Aids in MDF - Army Report The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe) March 31, 2003 Posted to the web March 31, 2003 Our Reporter Lilongwe Between
    Message 1 of 1046 , Apr 1, 2003
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      Picture Grim On HIV/Aids in MDF - Army Report

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
      March 31, 2003
      Posted to the web March 31, 2003

      Our Reporter
      Lilongwe

      Between 25% to 50% of men and women in the Malawi Defense Force may
      die of Aids by the year 2005 a Panos/Unaids Report of 2000 says

      This was revealed last Thursday during the launch of results from a
      study of
      factors contributing to the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the Malawi
      Defence
      Forces which took place at Kamuzu Barracks in Lilongwe.

      According to the report, the Malawi Defence Force has experienced a
      decline in human resources because of the high incidence of AIDS.

      'It is very important for the Malawi Defence Force to attain and
      maintain the
      established size of the army so that it may execute its tasks
      efficiently in time
      of war, conflicts and disasters. The major factor for the decrease in
      strength
      may be attributed to the HIV/AIDS epidemic,' reads part of the report.

      According to unpublished information, the current strength of the
      Malawi
      Defence Force is barely 60% of its required strength of service
      members.

      The report further reveals that at any given time there are army
      service
      members who contract the virus through other sexual partners when
      posted
      far from there accustomed communities or their families for long
      periods of
      time.

      'Just last year from January 2002 to December 2002, 105 service
      members
      have retired and 131 service members have died mainly due to HIV/AIDS
      related diseases. Soldiers who have died have left over 500 children
      of
      whom a quarter may be infected by the HIV. The Malawi Defence Force is
      still experiencing ever increasing numbers of service members dying
      and
      many are bedridden, possibly due to HIV/AIDS related illnesses.'
      Speaking
      during the launch of the study, Minister of Defence Rodwell
      Munyenyembe
      said: 'In the limelight of my concern over the decline in number of
      active
      soldiers, I am impressed, that the results arising from this study
      conceal
      nothing. It is an open secret that while HIV/AIDS has made alarming
      inroads
      across the country, the military, per se has already suffered
      tremendously,
      just like many institutions in terms of dwindling manpower.'
      Munyenyembe
      added that the decline of the army workforce is mainly through service
      members who are terminally ill or those who work more slowly as a
      result of
      illness and those who die and are not replaced.

      However Munyenyembe hinted that the army's recent commitment in
      drafting
      the Malawi Defence Force AIDS policy is a step in the right direction.

      Army Commander, General Joseph Chimbayo said that soldiers are a
      special risk group whose personnel sometimes operate in very hostile
      environment in pursuit of the national agenda which, in the course
      exposes
      them to increased sexually transmitted infections including HIV.

      Among the factors that predispose soldiers to AIDS, according to
      Chimbayo
      are that they feel invincible, have ready cash stacked in their wallets
      but do
      not carry condoms. They are additionally under extreme peer pressure
      to
      have sex and act aggressively and they place the 'conquest' syndrome
      as
      important to them.

      However Chimbayo told The Chronicle in a separate interview that the
      army
      is determined to fight the HIV/AIDS issue head on by sensitizing the
      service
      members on the dangers they face. He indicated that the launch of the
      Study of Factors Contributing to the Prevalance of HIV/AIDS in the MDF
      was
      one of the initial steps to address the pandemic that has decimated the
      MDF
      so far.

      The study was conducted by Brigadier Chirwa with Lieutenant Colonel
      Gondwe and Ms Ngwata.

      *****

      Muluzi Warns Lilongwe Mayor

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
      March 31, 2003
      Posted to the web March 31, 2003

      Christopher Jimu
      Lilongwe

      President Bakili Muluzi has told the Lilongwe City Assembly Mayor
      Charles
      Chimdzeka to declare which party he belongs to or resign from his seat
      if he
      continues to challenge his direct orders.

      The President's statement comes at a time when the Lilongwe City
      Assembly
      is locked in a feud over the renewal of Chief Executive Donton
      Mkandawire's
      contract.

      According to sources at the City Assembly Muluzi asked the mayor to
      declare which party he belongs to because he has always been
      challenging
      presidential directives to renew the contract of the Chief Executive.

      'The mayor received a very strong letter from President Muluzi asking
      him to
      leave the party if he continued to challenge Presidential directives,'
      said the
      source.

      The source said that following Muluzi's threats the mayor relented and
      organised a quick meeting with his councilors where he asked all the
      councilors to toe the UDF party line.

      However before convening the meeting the mayor wrote each and every
      councilor informing them about the new development and asked them to
      toe
      the government line by accepting Donton Mkandawire as their CE.

      Part of the letter to the councilors dated March 2003 according to The
      Daily
      Times reads: 'Please join me to implement government's directive that
      Professor Donton Mkandawire's contract has been renewed. I therefore
      ask
      all members of the Assembly to drop their differences on this issue and
      work
      together.' Asked to comment on the issue the Mayor said that he had to
      toe
      the government line but refused that he had been put under pressure by
      the
      President.

      'That matter is now a closed chapter. All the councilors have agreed to
      work
      with Donton Mkandawire said Chimdzeka.

      Chimdzeka has led his councilors and assembly staff in a revolt
      against
      beleaguered Chief Executive since 2001 because he said Mkandawire's
      attitude was not appropriately respectful of his office as he tended to
      look
      down on all the councilors, believing he was more educated as he was a
      professor.

      *****

      Muluzi's Choice Rejected Again!

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
      March 31, 2003
      Posted to the web March 31, 2003

      Christopher Jimu
      Lilongwe

      The choice of Bingu wa Mutharika as his presidential successor has
      caused
      a lot of turmoil in the United Democratic Front (UDF) which now
      threatens to
      tear the party apart. President Bakili Muluzi's own position in the
      party is
      shaky as, more and more he is seen to be out of step with the
      aspirations of
      his own leadership in UDF.

      Just a week after being rejected by the UDF Southern Region governors,
      Central Region governors unanimously agreed to challenge the
      Presidential
      nomination of Mutharika should Muluzi insists that he be the next UDF
      President.

      According to reports reaching The Chronicle
      the UDF held a meeting at the Capital City Motel
      where the name of Bingu was again
      unanimously rejected.

      This was confirmed by UDF Central Region
      Governor Uladi Mussa to The Chronicle after he
      chaired the meeting, but he declined to shed
      more light on what transpired.

      'The meeting took place but I cannot divulge
      what transpired because it was held in camera,' Mussa said.

      But according to our source, UDF President Bakili Muluzi directed
      Southern
      Region Governor Davis Kapito to attend the meeting and inform the
      regional
      leaders that he has indeed seen it fit to nominate Bingu wa Mutharika
      to be
      the next UDF President.

      'Kapito and Mussa told us that Muluzi has directed that Mutharika
      should be
      the next UDF President but we rejected his choice. There is no way one
      can
      impose a president on us. That is why we rejected the choice of
      Mutharika,'
      one of the District governors who attended the meeting told The
      Chronicle.

      'What Muluzi is doing by imposing Bingu on us will tear the party
      apart.

      Muluzi should know that he is there (President) because of the people.
      He
      should not turn himself into a dictator and start dictating every
      activity in the
      party. If he is not careful this will be the end of the UDF. We are
      going to
      unanimously reject Bingu and that will surely embarrass Muluzi,' said
      the
      governor.

      Kapito could not be reached for comment as he was attending a meeting,
      according to his driver who answered his cell phone.

      Just last week another meeting which took place in Blantyre convened
      by
      UDF Regional Governor for the South and attended by 28 District
      Committees, rejected wa Mutharika as Muluzi's successor.

      Zomba District governor Mawu Lumwira told a local daily that the
      proposal to
      have wa Mutharika, former president for United Party and Deputy
      Reserve
      Governor and now Minister of Economic Planning and Development to lead
      the party to polls came as a shock.

      'It has come as a kind of a shock because all of us were for the third
      term for
      President Muluzi and anyway, wa Mutharika is not popular enough to win
      elections for us,' he declared.

      In another development The Chronicle has been reliably informed that
      senior UDF ministers including Harry Thomson, Aleke Banda, Justin
      Malewezi and Sam Mpasu had written a memorandum to Muluzi which they
      all signed outlining their own position on the rejection of the
      President's
      choice of leader for their party. They sought an audience with the head
      of
      their party to explain their position further.

      This audience was denied. In their memo they spelt out their concerns
      warning the President that they would break ranks with him (Muluzi) if
      he
      insists on the choice of wa Mutharika as the next UDF president.

      In a matter relating to the forthcoming UDF National Conference The
      Chronicle has information that Paul Maulidi, the current Deputy
      Secretary
      General of the party had invited five urban district governors and
      some
      committee members of urban districts through a certain Mr. Ching'amba
      to
      meet with him. The meeting was said to have been held and Maulidi then
      gave each member K1,000 to vote for him as Secretary General of the
      party.
      The meeting is said to have unanimously rejected his overtures.

      The ruling UDF has been thrown into a succession feud and faces a
      leadership crisis since Muluzi declared that he was not going to be
      able
      stand again as President of the UDF in the next polls after several
      attempts
      to amend the Republican Constitution failed. The general feeling from
      political analysts is that the vacuum that is being caused is as a
      result of the
      lack of forthrightness on the part of aspirants. The silence from
      would-be
      contenders bodes ill of the UDF party as fear and intimidation
      continues to
      determine the lack of progress, the uncertainty as well as the
      insecurity that
      potential candidates have.

      Mutharika, who comes from Thyolo and is viewed as a suitable challenger
      by
      Muluzi to National Democratic Alliance (NDA) leader Brown Mpinganjira,
      lost
      the 1999 elections when he contested on the UP ticket.

      He is on record as saying that the assertions that he wants to become
      President are contrary to his mission for the country.

      'My mission in government is to end poverty and bring the economy back
      on
      track,' Mutharika said at a Press Conference he addressed in Blantyre
      last
      week.

      As we were going to press, a UDF National Executive Committee meeting
      was taking place in Blantyre called for by the party where the issue
      of
      Muluzi's choice is bound to feature highly on the agenda.

      *****

      YDS, Police Disrupt NDA Rally

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
      March 31, 2003
      Posted to the web March 31, 2003

      Christopher Jimu
      Lilongwe

      National Democratic Alliance (NDA) President Brown Mpinganjira failed
      to
      address a rally at Ntchilichili in Kasungu last Saturday after the
      notorious
      militant United Democratic Front (UDF) Young Democrats together with
      the
      Police chased away thousands of people who were waiting for the NDA
      President to address them.

      According to an eye witness, Maxwell Njala who is also NDA Central
      Region
      organising secretary the notorious YDs were overheard shouting earlier
      in
      the day that the NDA cannot hold a rally in Kasungu.

      'We were very surprised because we had already asked permission from
      the
      Police to hold our rally and they had given us a go-ahead. So when we
      saw
      Sam Zimba, Kananji, Ayamu and Alex coming to where we had erected our
      podium we knew that there was going to be a fight,' Njala said.

      He said that the NDA had written to the Police three days earlier
      informing
      them about the rally and they had been given a go ahead.

      But on the day of the rally YDs were seen patrolling streets in
      Kasungu
      stopping people going towards the venue of the rally.

      However after seeing that people were still flocking to the venue of
      the rally
      the YDs decided to confront NDA officials who were already at the venue
      of
      the rally.

      According to Njala, the NDA officials who were beaten were Steve
      Kanyinji
      who is District Committee member for Kasungu, Tony Dimbani member of
      the
      National Executive Committee and Wellingtone Yabwalo shadow MP for
      Kasungu Central.

      Zimba, a survivor of a recent car crash in Rumphi where one YD died on
      a
      mission to disrupt another NDA rally was the one who led the attack.it
      is said.

      The three officials were chased away from Kasungu Hospital by the same
      thugs when they had gone there to seek medical attention.

      As if that was not enough the Police, Njala alleges joined the YDs
      around 2
      pm in chasing away people from attending the rally.

      'They were about eleven police officers who were fully armed and they
      told
      us to disperse from the venue. However some of our officials managed
      to
      convince them that the rally will be violence free. One of the officers
      who
      refused to mention his name asked us to go on and they then left,'
      Njala
      explained.

      Njala said that the Police returned an hour later, this time with
      teargass
      canisters and live ammunition and started shooting into the air while
      throwing
      teargass canisters towards the multitude of unsuspecting people.

      'It was *free for all' as people scampered in all directions gasping
      for air.
      Some people were injured but luckily enough no one was killed,' Njala
      said.

      But Police Public Relations Officer George Chikowi distanced the Police
      from
      Njala's assertions that they were also involved in disrupting the NDA
      rally.

      'The Police are very professional. There is no way they can involve
      themselves in acts of violence like the ones being mentioned. That is
      total
      speculation,' Chikowi defended.

      The Police has, on several occasions been accused for not arresting
      notorious UDF YDs who have, for the past nine years taken the law into
      their
      own hands and have instilled fear in people in opposition parties.

      Just last week President Bakili Muluzi condemned the continued acts of
      violence perpetrated by Young Democrats directing Henry Moyo, the
      Director of Youth and Personal Advisor to the President to rein in his
      wards
      and stop them from performing their continued acts of terrorism
      against
      innocent Malawians.

      *****

      Election Fever Grips Parties in the Centre ... As 18 May,
      2004 Date is Set By the Electoral Commission

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
      March 31, 2003
      Posted to the web March 31, 2003

      Lilongwe

      Christopher Jimu Minister Without Portfolio Uladi Mussa who is also the
      UDF
      Central Region Governor has declared total war against the Malawi
      Congress Party (MCP) saying his party is happy with the gains made by
      the
      ruling UDF in the centre since he became the Party's Regional Governor

      Mussa was reacting to speeches by MCP MPs who were saying that his
      party
      stands no chance in the forthcoming elections because it has lost
      popularity
      and direction.

      Several MCP MPs over the weekend addressed
      rallies in their constituencies and, according to
      reports, their speeches dwelt mainly on how the
      MCP is going to bounce back into government
      next year.

      'The speeches made in the rallies I attended
      last week dwelt much on how we are going to
      get back power from the UDF in the next
      election,' said Mayi Chikuni, a Women's League
      member who stays in Kawale.

      But UDF regional governor Uladi Mussa told The Chronicle that his party
      is
      now ready to win seats which are in opposition hands come next year's
      elections.

      'The UDF is still strong in the centre we have managed to make strong
      gains
      and I am very optimistic that the party will win the next General
      Elections and
      retain power,' said Mussa.

      He explained that contrary to claims by the opposition that his party
      has lost
      popularity, the opposite is the truth.

      'Our rallies are well patronised these days, a thing that was not
      possible to
      achieve when I just became regional governor. There were squabbles in
      the
      party (central region) which I have settled amicably and now we are
      strategising on how we can take all the seats in the centre,' said
      Mussa.

      He revealed that the UDF has penetrated most of the parts in the
      Central
      Region because of the good working relationship that is there between
      the
      UDF supporters in villages and those holding senior party positions.

      That is the secret of the party . Our policy is to respect the masses
      in the
      rural areas, and the trick has done us wonders. We are now able to go
      in all
      areas in the centre to hold rallies without any problem,' said Mussa.

      But Lilongwe South East member of Parliament Hetherwick Ntaba vowed
      that
      there is no way his seat can be taken away from him by any UDF MP in
      the
      area.

      'I have all the confidence that come 2004, I will still be an MP for my
      area. In
      fact, I have always won with big percentages against UDF candidates.
      There
      is no way the constant growth in my percentage of the votes cast can
      be
      reversed,' said Ntaba.

      Meanwhile the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is also preparing the
      ground work for the 2004 elections. Reports indicate that the party
      has
      already identified individuals to contest as MPs in all districts in
      the central
      region.

      According to NDA Central Region Secretary, Maxwell Njala his party has
      already identified individuals who will contest as members of
      parliament in
      the forthcoming elections.

      'Even if we go to the polls today the NDA will have enough people to
      contest
      as MPs in all constituencies in the central region,' Njala boasted.

      *****

      Zimbabwe opposition triumph
      The opposition Movement for
      Democratic Change has
      comfortably retained two
      parliamentary seats in the
      Zimbabwean capital after
      by-elections at the weekend.

      President Robert Mugabe's party
      had been desperate to win a
      seat in Harare, which has long
      been an opposition stronghold .

      The weekend polls were described as largely peaceful
      by
      diplomats and the police, but marked by strong
      opposition claims
      of voter intimidation and ballot fixing.

      State radio said the MDC won 12,548 votes in the
      Kuwadzana
      constituency, against 5,002 votes for the ruling
      Zanu-PF. In the
      Highlands constituency, the opposition won 8,759 votes
      against
      4,844 for Zanu-PF.

      President Mugabe's party, with 95 seats, enjoys a
      comfortable
      majority in the 150-strong parliament, but is five
      seats short of a
      constitution-changing two-thirds majority.

      Earlier on Monday, a strong police presence was
      reported outside
      State House and at roadblocks around the capital.

      Tension has been rising ahead of a midnight deadline
      given by
      the opposition to the government to meet its demands
      over
      human-rights abuses and democracy, or face peaceful
      mass
      action.

      At lunchtime on Monday, MDC vice president Gibson
      Sibanda was
      arrested by the police in Bulawayo, but has not yet
      been
      charged.

      'Countdown'

      At the end of polling on Sunday evening, MDC leader
      Morgan
      Tsvangirai issued a strong statement saying events had
      come to
      "the countdown to the final reckoning".

      And he said the country could
      soon expect a "final push for
      freedom".

      Two days of general strikes a
      fortnight ago brought the capital
      and other urban centres to a halt
      in a huge show of support for the
      opposition.

      A crackdown on MDC members
      followed, with many people being
      arrested, and there were
      widespread reports of the
      beating and torture of opposition
      supporters.

      Violence

      The run-up to the polls had already seen tensions
      rising following
      the anti-government strike last week.

      Zanu-PF and the MDC exchanged allegations of violence
      during
      campaigning which human rights groups say left
      hundreds of
      people injured.

      On Friday, the European Union condemned
      "unprecedented
      government-sponsored violence" against the opposition
      in
      Zimbabwe.

      It said the Zimbabwean people had a constitutional
      right to
      protest peacefully and called on the government to
      respect that
      right.

      But during the voting, police said they had received
      no reports of
      violence and the election authorities insisted there
      were no
      irregularities.

      *****

      More Zimbabwe protests loom
      The Zimbabwe Government has
      not responded to Monday's
      deadline to meet 15 opposition
      demands or face "mass action".

      Movement for Democratic Change
      leaders are now deciding what their
      next step would be, spokesman Paul
      Themba Nyathi told BBC News
      Online.

      He said they were considering a
      strike, marches in the city and a
      boycott of ruling party business
      interests but refused to give a timeframe for when the
      decision would be
      taken or when the protests would be called.

      On Monday, MDC vice president Gibson Sibanda was
      arrested in
      connection with organising general strikes a fortnight
      ago.

      Chief police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said Mr
      Sibanda was
      arrested for "attempting to subvert a constitutional
      government".

      The MDC demands do not include
      calls for President Robert Mugabe to
      step down, or for new elections but
      things such as depoliticising the
      distribution of food aid and an end to
      political harassment.

      Mr Nyathi said the government's failure to respond to
      such "moderate"
      demands, would illustrate to African leaders backing
      Mr Mugabe, that
      the government was not serious about political
      freedoms.

      Risk assessment

      He said the next step would have to be carefully
      chosen because of the
      "risks involved".

      "We don't want to draw our people into an ambush," he
      said.

      Mr Nyathi said that Monday's victory
      in two Harare by-elections would not
      affect the MDC's plans.

      *****

      African April Fools spoof Iraq war
      Africa's newspapers are a
      fruitful source of 1 April light
      relief, even with the news
      agenda dominated by the Middle
      East. Indeed, many of today's
      April Fools stories reflect
      current concerns by playing on
      an Iraqi link.

      Fancy a job in Iraq?

      The Kenyan Standard says
      "lucrative" salaries are now on offer for Kenyans
      willing to take up job
      opportunities - including ground troops and medical
      coroners - in the
      Gulf region.

      The US authorities are also seeking applicants from
      neighbouring Sudan
      and Ethiopia, as residents of all three countries are
      said be experienced
      in working in desert conditions.

      Suspicions about the spoof story are raised when it
      notes that "due to
      the short notice", anyone wishing to take up the
      opportunities must
      apply - by sending an SMS text message - before midday
      today.

      An advertisement on a separate page gives details of
      the jobs said to be
      available.

      These include drivers ("previous navigation experience
      in a desert is
      advantageous"), cooks ("must have ample experience in
      preparing
      Arabic and Continental cuisine") and teachers
      ("knowledge of Arabic not
      necessary but will have an added advantage").

      The advert says successful applicants will need to
      equip themselves with
      a gas mask and a map of Iraq. They will be provided
      with a one-way
      ticket to Baghdad.

      Saddam in Cape David, cease-fire in Iraq

      Another Nairobi paper, the Kenya Times, sticks to the
      Iraqi theme by
      reporting that the war there is over.

      This came after Saddam Hussein flew incognito to New
      York and was
      taken to Camp David where he agreed cease-fire terms
      with George
      Bush. Saddam and his two sons have agreed to go into
      exile in Jordan.

      US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and National
      Security Adviser
      Condoleezza Rice have tendered their resignations.

      Following the conclusion of the deal, Jacques Chirac
      has praised
      President Bush as a statesman whose place in history
      was now
      guaranteed.

      A Tanzanian Swahili-language daily, Nipashe, also
      reports that the Iraqi
      president has agreed to go into exile, but says he
      will be living in South
      Africa.

      Fantasy football

      Kenya's People newspaper reports that FIFA President
      Sepp Blatter and
      Brazilian legend Pele are arriving in Nairobi this
      morning on a visit seen
      as linked to Kenya's bid to host the African Nations
      Cup tournament in
      2006 and the World Cup in 2010.

      The Kenyan government has also appointed "French
      soccer wizard
      Michel Platini" to head a special task force to this
      effect. "Plans are also
      in the pipeline to have former French striker and
      long-serving
      Manchester United skipper Eric Cantona head the youth
      development
      programme," the People says.

      Blatter, Platini and Pele will all meet Kenyan
      President Mwai Kibaki at his
      official residence today. This afternoon, parliament
      will debate a motion
      to build three "ultra-modern" stadiums in the
      country.

      Transports of delight

      Kenya's Standard reports that underground rail links
      are opening today
      between the various outlets of a Nairobi restaurant
      chain.

      The manager of the Kengele's chain is quoted as saying
      that, in a "first"
      in the whole of Africa, patrons will be able to travel
      "quickly and
      conveniently" between the firm's six restaurants in
      tunnels 20 feet below
      ground.

      South Africa's Star reports a blow to cyclists in
      Gauteng Province (which
      includes Johannesburg and Pretoria). They'll now have
      to take a
      compulsory exam, pass an eye test and pay a licence
      fee. Those who
      fail to carry their licences face a fine.

      Underwater

      But there's even more alarming news for residents of
      Cape Town.

      The Cape Times reports "shock findings" by an academic
      institute that
      the world famous landmark of Table Mountain, which
      currently forms a
      stunning background to the city, will be an island
      within 30 years as sea
      levels rise with global warming.

      The famous Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela and
      other
      anti-apartheid activists were imprisoned) will be
      completely submerged
      and may become a centre for "world-class scuba
      diving".

      The paper says the "secret report", which had been
      leaked to the Cape
      Times, "has been kept under wraps for fear of creating
      panic and
      causing havoc with property prices".

      It quoted a spokesman for Cape Town city council as
      saying that
      discussions were underway on whether it would be
      better to link the new
      island to the mainland by a tunnel or a bridge.

      But the good news is that rising sea levels will also
      create a change in
      wave patterns, resulting in Hout Bay, Bellville and
      Stellenbosch
      becoming some of the world's "premier surfing spots".
    • 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 8:06 AM
      • 0 Attachment

        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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