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  • Christine Chumbler
    Malawi defies anti-smoking lobby Malawi will keep on supporting is tobacco industry, the mainstay of the economy, despite opposition from anti-smoking groups
    Message 1 of 1046 , Apr 17, 2003
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      Malawi defies anti-smoking lobby
      Malawi will keep on supporting is tobacco industry, the mainstay of the
      economy, despite opposition from anti-smoking groups and the World
      Health Organisation (WHO).

      President Bakili Muluzi, speaking at the start of the year's tobacco
      auctions, urged farmers to produce higher quality crops.

      His stance comes ahead of the signing of the WHO's Framework Convention
      on Tobacco Control (FCTC) later this year.

      The FCTC will be the world's first global agreement to control tobacco
      advertising and promotion, smuggling, taxation, treatment and product

      The convention was reportedly instrumental in British American Tobacco
      ending almost two decades of sponsoring Malawian football earlier this

      Industry support

      Dr Muluzi said Malawi would continue to support the tobacco industry,
      the country's second largest employer after the government, until
      alternative cash crops were found.

      "On behalf of the farmers, I appeal to buyers to pay appropriate prices
      to ensure that tobacco growers have good income," he said.

      Tobacco accounts for about 75% of foreign currency earnings for the
      country which is in the second year of recession due to a freeze of
      donor aid.

      Malawi and Zimbabwe are the world's two most tobacco dependent

      Main income earner

      The government of the tiny southern African country this year pushed
      for the earlier opening of the auction floors to bring in foreign

      Tobacco accounts for over 60% of Malawi's total exports and contributes
      about 10% of the gross domestic product.

      Estimates from the Commercial Bank of Malawi (CBM) in March put this
      year's crop at 145.6 million kilogrammes, a 5.4% increase on last year,
      which will earn K16.9 billion (£123m; $191m) in sales in 2003.


      Average Malawi Woman Has Six Kids

      African Eye News Service (Nelspruit)

      April 16, 2003
      Posted to the web April 16, 2003

      By Lameck Bwanali
      Blantyre, Malawi

      The average Malawian woman bears on average 6.3 children, contributing
      to growing population pressures in the landlocked African country.

      Acting deputy director of the department of population services, Grace
      Hiwa, said 47 percent of the population was also very young and
      therefore contributed to rising population figures.

      "We cannot control population growth but we can put measures in place
      to ensure a balance between the growth rate and available natural
      resources," she said.

      She said family planning was being promoted at grassroots level, while
      school curricula were beginning to include sex education and family

      The national family planning campaign has already resulted in an
      increase in the use of contraceptives, like condoms and the pill, from
      14 percent in the early 1990s to 26 percent in 1998, she said.

      Men are also being targetted to properly plan their families because,
      traditionally, they are considered the decision-makers in families.

      Malawi's fertility rate has already dropped from 7.4 children per woman
      in 1997 and 6.4 in 1998 to the present 6.3.

      The National Statistical Office attributes the drop to greater family
      planning awareness, higher levels of education among women and the
      increase in the official minimum marriage age from 17 in 1987 to 19 in

      In the First World, the fertility rate in Norway is 1.8 children per
      woman, two children per woman in the US and 1.7 children per woman in
      the United Kingdom.

      The West African State of Niger is said to have the highest fertility
      rate in the world at eight children per woman. - ECN-African Eye News


      Zimbabwe's torturers on the run

      By Alistair Leithead
      BBC, Cape Town, South Africa

      They are young Zimbabweans living rough in Johannesburg, on the run
      from the Zimbabwean secret service and the youth force commanders who
      taught them violence.

      They are not wanted for the rapes, beatings, murders and arson they
      committed in the name of Zimbabwe's ruling party, but because they ran
      away and are now telling the truth about what they've been doing.

      "We went to the farms and broke everything. We took livestock, machines
      and burned the houses. The children were raped, the small children. We
      raped the girls. We targeted white farmers and opposition politicians,"
      said Themba Skhosana, who's 19.

      In the last few weeks a massive government crackdown on the opposition
      Movement for Democratic Change has seen hundreds of supporters arrested,
      most held without charge and then released days later - many having been
      beaten and tortured.


      Responsible for much of the violence is Zimbabwe's National Youth
      Service - what the government calls a peace corps designed to lift
      youngsters out of poverty, but what its former members describe as
      ruling Zanu-PF party military camps of teenagers being taught to beat,
      rape and kill.

      "They used to give us beer and drugs and told us we were going to
      destroy farms. Also, people who were MDC were not allowed to buy food
      from the shops, but Zanu-PF were allowed food when they showed their
      card," said Andrew Moyo, also 19.

      They're notorious in the country as the "green bombers" after the
      uniforms they wear and the chaos that follows in their wake.

      Themba Ndlovu is 22, he said they were promised money, jobs and land,
      but instead they were forced to attack people and burn down farms - they
      received nothing and were told if they ran away they would be killed.

      "We used crowbars and firearms," he said. "I have not killed, but I
      have raped. I raped a 12 year old girl. We have attacked people from the
      MDC party - many people. I need to change my life - that is why I ran
      away from Zimbabwe.

      "It is too hard living on the streets in Johannesburg. The Zimbabwe
      Central Intelligence Officers are looking for us and if the South
      African police find us they will send us back.

      "If I am taken back to Zimbabwe I will be assassinated, jailed or
      killed. Others have been taken back from South Africa and they have just

      The boys ran away from their camps and with help from friends and
      relatives illegally crossed into South Africa. It's not known how many
      have escaped, but their accounts paint a brutal picture of
      state-sponsored killing and violence.


      Moses Mzila-Ndlovu is shadow foreign minister in Zimbabwe and an MDC MP
      - he says there has been widespread intimidation after a peaceful mass
      protest last month.

      "Five hundred people were arrested in a matter of two or three days
      soon after the mass stay-away and it shows you the level of harassment
      and intimidation. Two hundred and fifty of these people needed hospital
      treatment," he said while in South Africa.

      "Whether Mugabe arrests us or not the people of Zimbabwe have become so
      confident and daring as to demand their civil liberties back, demand an
      end to this brutalisation, demand a restoration of the rule of law and
      to demand a legitimate government."

      With the crisis taking place on Zimbabwe's doorstep and with President
      Thabo Mbeki currently chairing the African Union (AU), the emphasis has
      been put on South Africa and the region to take a harder line on

      But President Mbeki said the AU "doesn't have a position on Zimbabwe".
      His official spokesman said he would comment on almost anything except
      Zimbabwe, and the department of foreign affairs also refused to be
      interviewed saying government policy has not changed.

      That policy, in place for months now, is for "quiet diplomacy," but it
      doesn't appear to have had any effect on an increasing catalogue of
      violence and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.


      Go to Hell - Mugabe's Reply to US Quit Call

      Cape Argus (Cape Town)

      April 16, 2003
      Posted to the web April 16, 2003

      Basildon Peta

      President Robert Mugabe's ruling party has told the United States to
      "go to hell" over its statement that Mugabe should step down and hand
      over power to a transitional government pending new elections.

      Zanu-PF said it was the US that should have a transitional government
      and new elections because George Bush "was not elected".

      "Instead of shouting instructions for Mugabe to step down, it's the
      Americans themselves who need a transitional government to hold fresh
      elections and replace the unelected Bush," Zanu-PF information secretary
      Nathan Shamuyarira said yesterday.

      "If the Americans don't want to accept our legitimacy, it is their own
      problem. They can go to hell. There will be no new elections here."

      Reports from Washington yesterday quoted the State Department as urging
      Zimbabwe's neighbours to step up pressure on Mugabe to hand over power
      to a transitional government, paving the way for new elections.

      "What we're telling them is there has to be a transitional government
      in Zimbabwe that leads to a free and fair, internationally supervised
      election," a senior official was quoted as saying.

      "That is the goal. He (Mugabe) stole the last one; we can't let that
      happen again," the unnamed official said. "It has to be internationally
      supervised, open, transparent, with an electoral commission that

      He would not say whether Washington had received positive reactions to
      its call, but said generally southern African neighbours were
      increasingly aware of the problems posed by Mugabe's rule.

      "The neighbourhood - meaning southern Africa - is realising that this
      is not going well, this is breaking bad," the official said. "The food
      situation is going to get nothing but worse, the economic scene is

      The official noted that Zimbabwe's economy was crippled by
      hyperinflation and an unemployment rate of 80% and Zimbabweans were
      fleeing in droves to become refugees in Botswana, Mozambique and South

      In addition, the situation was hurting the economies of other countries
      in the region, as potential investors steered clear.

      "The neighbourhood is starting to realise that there is a downside to
      giving aid and protection to Comrade Bob," the official said, using a
      nickname for Mugabe.

      "There is stuff happening, there is stuff happening behind the scenes,"
      the official added, declining to elaborate.

      But Shamuyarira said America's urging of Mugabe to quit was
      unacceptable. The next parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe would be in
      2005, followed by a presidential election in 2008.

      Any notion of bringing forward these dates would not see the light of

      Shamuyarira said the only way to resolve the crisis was for the US and
      European Union to accept the results of last year's

      presidential election and "work with President Mugabe's elected

      The elections had been recognised as free and fair by African and
      Southern African Development Community observers.

      "The only group that flatly refused to acknowledge the election was the
      European Union. We refused to be bound by the EU's racist position.

      "If the Americans want to follow the EU, then it's their problem,"
      Shamuyarira said.

      The US Assistant Secretary for African affairs, Walter Kansteiner, is
      visiting Botswana and South Africa later this month, partly to discuss
      the situation in Zimbabwe.

      Zimbabwe has failed to respond to appeals for reform from the
      Commonwealth and its situation has worsened since suspension, says an
      internal report by secretary-general Don McKinnon, leaked in London
    • 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.


        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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