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  • Christine Chumbler
    Top Malawi ruling party official resigns 20 April 2003 10:20 A top official in Malawi President Bakili Muluzi s ruling party has resigned in protest over what
    Message 1 of 1046 , Apr 21, 2003
      Top Malawi ruling party official resigns
      20 April 2003 10:20
      A top official in Malawi President Bakili Muluzi's ruling party has
      resigned in protest over what he described as Muluzi's imposition of a
      hand-picked successor, he said on Saturday.

      Aleke Banda (64) said that the United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate
      Muluzi has picked to succeed him in presidential elections next year was
      unsuitable "because he is completely unknown and had no track record".

      And another UDF stalwart, Speaker of Parliament Sam Mpasu said on
      Saturday he would not accept a recent ministerial appointment by

      Two weeks ago Muluzi appointed Bingu wa Mutharika as his successor to
      stand as the ruling party's candidate in presidential elections due in
      May 2004.

      Banda, a long-serving member of the government who held presidential
      aspirations, was passed over for the job. He was also fired as the
      country's agriculture minister.

      The ex-minister, who comes from northern Malawi, says Muluzi told him
      Malawians were not prepared to accept a leader who comes from a minority
      ethnic group.

      Banda accused the head of state of "ethnic intolerance".

      "It is a worrying deterioration of democratic practices," he added.

      Meanwhile, the Speaker of Parliament, Sam Mpasu said on Saturday that
      he had turned down the job of commerce and industry minister in a new
      46-member cabinet that Muluzi appointed two weeks ago.

      The parliamentary official, who was out of the country at the time of
      his appointment, said he was not consulted by Muluzi before being given
      the job.

      "I am not accepting the position," said Mpasu.

      He said as an elected official he could only be relieved of his present
      duties by the country's lawmakers. Under Malawian law, the Speaker of
      Parliament cannot be a minister at the same time.

      "I don't want to set a bad precedent on the separation of powers," he
      said, adding that he had written a formal letter of rejection to Muluzi.
      - Sapa-AFP


      Thomson, AKB Unpopular - Khamisa

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      April 20, 2003
      Posted to the web April 20, 2003

      Christopher Jimu

      Minister of Statutory Corporations, Bob Khamisa has said that no
      Malawian can vote for Harry Thomson and Aleke Banda if they decide to
      contest as presidential candidates in next year's Presidential and
      General Elections because they are deemed to be unpopular.

      Speaking to The Chronicle in a telephone interview Khamisa said that
      Bingu Wa Mutharika was the only candidate who could win the polls for
      the UDF.
      Leon H. Sullivan Summit

      'There is no chance Aleke Banda and Harry Thomson could win next year's
      elections because they are unpopular. Aleke has never won elections in
      his home area while Thomson does not know how to speak Chichewa
      properly. He could have great difficulties in convincing the masses to
      vote for him,' Khamisa said.

      He said that the choice of Bingu by the UDF was the only way the ruling
      United Democratic Front will stay on in power.

      'Ninety nine percent of UDF MP's have endorsed Bingu's candidature.

      Everybody knows that Bingu and Chilumpha are the people to lead us
      after Muluzi because of their impeccable credentials,' Khamisa said.

      The accusations by Khamisa comes barely two weeks after former
      Education Minister George Ntafu attacked Thomson during a UDF NEC
      meeting which took place at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre.

      Ntafu accused Thomson of applying double standards in his quest to take
      over the UDF Presidency from Muluzi once the incumbent steps down.

      In a separate interview Thomson told The Chronicle that he would make a
      statement later to counter the accusations.

      'As I have already said before I will make a statement in due course. I
      can not comment on these allegations now,' Thomson said.

      Aleke Banda could not be reached for a comment as his phone was
      switched to voice mail.

      Thomson and Aleke Banda, who both declared openly that they would be
      willing to challenge for the UDF presidency have come under fire from
      fellow UDF loyalists who have said they had always harboured ambitions
      of taking over the Presidency from Muluzi, a fact that is considered
      disloyal to the president who, several weeks before the NEC indaba had
      already decided on his preferred successor. The NEC was used to sanction
      the president's choice of Bingu wa Mutharika who is seen by many as a
      rank outsider imposed on them and Cassim Chilumpha who will serve as his
      running mate.

      The ruling United Democratic Front has now been thrown into a major
      crisis in the leadership succession since Muluzi declared that he is no
      longer interested in running for a third term of office in 2004. The
      party had tried unsuccessfully to amend the constitution to allow the
      president to continue holding office for a third successive term.

      There are now moves to create a new position within the hierarchy of
      the UDF of Chairman to allow Muluzi to continue having a say in the
      politics of the party. Recently Bingu wa Mutharika declared at a public
      rally held at the Ntcheu constituency of Sam Mpasu, the current Speaker
      of Parliament that he would, if elected to the presidency observe
      cultural norms by protecting and defending Muluzi whom he declared is an
      *elder'. Muluzi is 60 years old while Mutharika is ten years older at


      Muluzi Threatens UDF MPs; 'I Will Scrap Your Names Off If You Oppose

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      April 20, 2003
      Posted to the web April 20, 2003

      Christopher Jimu

      President Bakili Muluzi has threatened to banish from UDF any member of
      parliament who continues to undermine his anointed successor Bingu Wa
      Mutharika, The Chronicle has learnt.

      Muluzi gave the warning at a highly charged UDF caucus which took place
      at Sanjika Palace last Tuesday where 90 UDF members of Parliament were
      forced to endorse the name of Bingu.

      According to sources at Sanjika, Muluzi was incenced with reports that
      some members of parliament were planning to de-campaign Mutharika in
      their constituencies so that he fails in the forthcoming general

      'Muluzi told us that he is going to de-register all MPs who undermine
      his choice of Bingu Wa Mutharika as his successor. He told us in no
      uncertain terms that his choice of Wa Mutharika was final and that no
      one should challenge him (Mutharika) in next years polls,' said the

      'We were ready to challenge Muluzi's nomination but after the threats
      everybody relented and voted yes for Bingu,' the source added.

      He said that if Muluzi had not threatened the MP's almost half of the
      delegates would have voted no for Bingu because he is an outsider.

      According to the source Muluzi has deliberately chosen Bingu because he
      feels he has been mislead and lied to long enough by the UDF senior
      officials' 'He in fact told us that the past nine months have been very
      bad for him because some senior Ministers and party officials were
      insisting that he should stand again for a third term a thing his family
      members were opposing. It seems his choice is deliberate so that he
      frustrates all who were aspiring to take over from him because they lied
      to him. But what he should know is that Bingu will not make it,' the
      source added.

      Asked why the UDF released a press statement saying that all MP's who
      attended the Sanjika caucus had agreed to support Mutharika, the MP
      said,'They had to say so. They could not go public saying that they
      threatened us, but what people should know is that UDF MP's are not
      happy with Bingu,' he said.aater to counter the accusa

      The statement released by the UDF secretariat and signed by the party's
      deputy Secretary General Paul Maulidi stated that all MPs who went to
      Sanjika unanimously declared their total support for Mutharika.

      'All members of Parliament of United Democratic Front who met at Sanjka
      Palace, Blantyre have unanimously declared their total support for the
      nomination by the National Executive Committee of Bingu Wa Mutharika as
      Presidential candidate and and Cassim Chilumpha as running mate for the
      2004 general elections.

      UDF Director General Dumbo Lemani commenting on the issue said that no
      MP had been threatened at the Sanjika caucus.

      'Who told you that story. No MP was threatened at Sanjika. That is bull
      s**t! and I say bull s**t!', an angry Lemani said.

      Meanwhile The Chronicle has been informed that Muluzi fired five
      members of his cabinet because they were all nursing ambitions to take
      over from him.

      The five, Harry Thomson, Moses Dossi, Henry Phoya, Samuel Kaphuka and
      Aleke Banda.

      It is reported that Dossi and Thomson were enjoying a lot of support
      from the Catholics who form a large number of voters in Malawi.

      In an interview with The Chronicle Dossi said that it is the
      President's prerogative to hire and fire a Minister while Thomson
      said,'I will make a statement later.

      Henry Phoya denied reports linking him with a possible move to

      'I have heard the rumours that I am earmarked for the post of speaker
      but I don't know where they emanate from,' Phoya said.


      More Resignations Expected From the UDF

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      April 20, 2003
      Posted to the web April 20, 2003

      Maxwell Zingani

      Following the resignation of Aleke Banda as the First Vice President of
      the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) party on Friday, The Chronicle
      has learnt that at least 4 more Members of Parliament, some who are
      newly appointed ministers are considering handing in their resignations
      before the next sitting of Parliament which is scheduled for the 12th
      May 2003. Others like Sam Mpasu, Harry Thomson, Henry Phoya, Jan Jaap
      Sonke and Joe Manduwa are also among those who are said to be seriously
      considering resigning.

      'Some of the MPs have met and they have made a decision to resign their
      executive positions before the next sitting of parliament,' a UDF party
      official who wished not to be named said adding, 'they plan to move to
      the back benches in the august house when they meet in May' When
      contacted for comment on the prospect of his possible resignation, Sonke
      said he would not comment on the issue as yet: 'There are several option
      open to me that I am considering and I will then decide whether I work
      from within or from outside the party'.

      Joe Manduwa who has been declared a rebel because he was against the
      Third Term bid that the President of the UDF tried to push through and
      failed said that he was not going to resign soon but confirmed that he
      has intentions to eventually submit his resignation from the party.

      'My intention is to eventually resign from the party because I am being
      ill treated just because I have expressed my own opinion,' said Manduwa
      He said that what is happening in the party is grossly undemocratic and
      many of the people in the UDF who are loyalists are only in the party
      because they don't want to lose their seats in parliament.

      'Most of us have mentally resign from the party because of the way the
      President is treating his people,' adding, 'Bakili wafika ponyansa,'
      (Bakili has become intolerable).

      He said that Muluzi is destroying the party because he is booting out
      everybody out of the party anyone who may have a different opinion from
      his own.

      'The UDF is finished! Muluzi is finishing the party (sic) because he
      thinks he is God - that whatever he decides on, nobody should oppose,'
      said Manduwa.

      When asked to comment on the possible mass exodus from the UDF, the
      Deputy Secretary General of the party Paul Maulidi said that the party
      had not yet received an official notification of the resignation of
      Aleke Banda.

      'But once we receive his official resignation we will table it for
      discussion at the National Executive level,' adding, 'Aleke Banda has
      the right to choose whether he remains in the party or otherwise, no one
      can force him to stay in the party.' Maulidi declined to make a
      statement on the possible repercussions of an exodus of members from the
      UDF saying: 'I do not know whether I should believe you or not. I cannot
      comment on speculation'.

      Since the UDF got into power Aleke Banda, like Harry Thomson have been
      in cabinet as ministers. They were both perceived to be loyal and
      diligent in their duties and many questions have been raised as to their
      sudden sacking.

      Pundits have declared that this may herald a return to the old Kamuzu
      syndrome of eliminating any opposition or critical voice.

      This is the first time, in all the incidences of cabinet reshuffles
      that Muluzi has booted out Aleke Banda and Harry Thomson permanently
      after they were both asked at the NEC meeting whether thewy would be
      willing to stand.

      They both declared that they would be willing to stand as presidential
      candidates in the 2004 elections.

      The cracks within the UDF party have become wider since the first
      reports of the preferred selection by President Bakili Muluzi of his
      presidential candidates, Bingu wa Mutharika and Cassim Chilumpha. The
      ethnic, regionalistic as well as religious considerations being brought
      into play have split the party further with the president, in an effort
      to minimise damage dissolving cabinet.

      His appointment of a new executive with the dropping of some key
      players and the shifting of the Speaker of Parliament to a cabinet post
      has further alienated many loyalist in the party. The Speaker is
      reported to be considering resigning from the his post and remaining a
      back-bencher should the pressure for him to accept a ministerial post


      Muluzi Sends Chihana to Apologise to Danes

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      April 20, 2003
      Posted to the web April 20, 2003

      Pushpa Jamieson

      President Bakili Muluzi recently sent Aford President Chakufwa Chihana
      to Denmark to apologise on his governments behalf for the
      misunderstandings that led to the withdrawal of Danish aid to Malawi.

      Information from impeccable sources and a confirmed response from
      Denmark say on 24th March Chihana together with the Malawi Ambassador to
      Denmark residing in London, visited Copenhagen where they met the Head
      of Department for Southern Africa Mr Dan Frederiksen on a 'goodwill

      Chihana is said to have told Frederiksen that Muluzi had instructed him
      to inform the Danish government that he had not been well advised by his
      advisors on the matter that caused the misunderstandings between the two
      governments and wished to correct the situation.

      On arrival at Lilongwe International Airport (LIA) from his trip,
      Chihana failed to explain to reporters the reason for his three week
      visit to several European countries saying he would first brief Muluzi
      who sponsored the trip and thereafter hold a press conference in
      Blantyre. However to date the press briefing has not yet taken place.

      'I was designated by the head of state as the presidential envoy to
      undertake an extensive and a very gruesome long trip to Europe at a very
      difficult period,' said Chihana briefing reporters at the airport but
      refused to comment on the mission of the trip.

      'It pleased Muluzi to include Aford Secretary General, Wallace Chiume
      (now Tourism Minister) and his (Muluzi) own Personal Assistant Enock
      Chihana from the State house to accompany me as well,' said Chihana
      adding that he was grateful to Muluzi for according him confidence and
      trust to undertake the extensive tour instead of sending his own UDF

      When contacted for comment on the trip, Chiume, who is an AFORD member
      of parliament for Nkhata Bay North said he could not make any comment
      because he was not leader of the delegation.

      When asked about the press briefing that was to have taken place, he
      confirmed that the scheduled press conference in Blantyre was

      Efforts to talk to Chihana proved futile as it was reported that he was
      in a meeting.

      The Party's Publicity Secretary Norman Nyirenda told The Chronicle that
      the press briefing was cancelled and was postponed to a later date, but
      was not sure if it would take place as it had been overtaken by events
      in the forming of the new cabinet.

      'The information I have is that Muluzi sent Chihana and his group to
      take a good will message to the European countries for coming to our
      rescue in a very torrid period of hunger and drought we experienced last
      year and early this year,' said Nyirenda who confided that the group
      visited 12 countries in Europe.

      He said the EU countries helped Malawi in providing enough maize which
      has filled all silos in Lilongwe in trying to avert hunger in the

      It has been reported that the Danish Government had withdrawn aid to
      Malawi when it was discovered that funds from Denmark had not been used
      in the manner in which the two governments had agreed. There have also
      been media reports in which Orla Bakdal, the Danish Embassador to Malawi
      is said to have insulted President Muluzi and therefore was not able to
      remain in Malawi. Effort to bridge the relationship had also been made
      by the minister of Foreign Affairs, Lillian Patel which proved futile
      when she and a delegation visited Denmark soon after the closure of the
      Danish Embassy.

      Chihana has since been appointed second Vice President and Minister of
      Agriculture, Irrigation and Food Security in a coalition government
      between his Aford party and the ruling UDF.


      Attitude Change Key to Development - USAID

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      April 20, 2003
      Posted to the web April 20, 2003

      Jacob Jimu

      The United States Agency For International Development(USAID) says
      Malawi can only achieve real social and economic development if
      Malawians adopt deveopment-oriented attitudes.

      USAID Director for Malawi, Roger Yochelson, said recently when he
      launched the agency's website at Old Mutual Auditorium.
      Leon H. Sullivan Summit

      He cited the fight against HIV/AIDS and agricultural development as
      some of the areas where there is a strong need for people to re-orient
      their mindsets in order for the country to register any meaningful

      'It is difficult to convince somebody who has been growing maize for
      the past 30 years to grow chilli pepper but we get those who have done
      it to show that it is possible,' said Yochelson.

      The website, www.usaid.gov/missions/mw/ , contains information about
      USAID Malawi, programmes, partners, success stories, news and press,
      photo gallery and business procurement, among others.

      On Malawi, there is information on the government, geography, people
      and population dynamics, education health and the economy.

      'With the launch of the website, Malawians and the rest of the world
      have a window into the efforts we make together,' said Yochelson in a
      press statement released for the launch of the website.

      USAID has worked with the Malawi government and other stakeholders in
      such areas like agriculture, education, governance, health, natural
      resources and private business among others.

      Some of its prominent achievements include the construction of the
      lakeshore road and The Malawi Polytechnic.

      Currently, four Malawian teacher trainers are studying in the United
      States on USAID scholarship.

      According to Yochelson, the agency has been in the country 'for more
      than forty years.'


      Tourism And the Spread of HIV/Aids

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      April 20, 2003
      Posted to the web April 20, 2003

      Wezie Nyirongo

      People have differed on whether tourism is contributing to the
      spreading of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

      Others say tourism is also one of the major factors contributing to the
      wide spread of the pandemic while others are of the view that tourism
      cannot contribute to the spreading of HIV in the country.

      Others have said that there is need to create awareness on HIV/AIDS for
      employees in the tourism industry, tourists and the community
      surrounding tourist attraction areas in the country because some of them
      are frequently in close contact with the tourists.

      Because of these problems the Ministry of Tourism, Parks and Wildlife
      has embarked on a process to implement a Sexual Reproductive Health
      Programme for the Tourism and Travel Industry, Parks and Wildlife.

      The programme aims at improving the quality of life for employees,
      mostly young men and women in tourism and travel industry and
      communities around national parks and resorts areas through behaviour
      change in sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS, alcohol and drug
      abuse and gender equality issues.

      According to the ministry's public relations officer Patricia Liabuba
      said the project will run for 3 years with funding from the United
      Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

      'The justification is that the tourism sector employs a lot of men and
      women, most of them young, who are constantly in contact with tourists
      from various places both local , and international,' said Liabuba adding
      that the project will focus on behaviour change communication activities
      that address safe sexual and reproductive health practices.

      In addition the project will also focus on information on HIV/AIDS
      prevention, early pregnancies, harmful socio-cultural practices, sexual
      transmitted diseases, effects of drugs and alcohol abuse and gender
      issues will be given to employees, employees and visitors.

      'A baseline survey was conducted which has documented the attitudes,
      behaviours and practices of both employers and employees in relation to
      sexual related health, HIV/AIDS, gende equality, drug and alcohol abuse
      among the target groups,' she said.

      In order to make the programme sustainable, training of trainers
      workshops will be conducted in all the three regions to acquire the
      trainers with the appropriate skill to implement the project.

      The project is also aimed at sensitising communities around National
      Parks and Wildlife Reserve areas about the scourge of HIV/AIDS and how
      to avoid it.


      This Country Needs Fish - Mkondiwa

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      April 20, 2003
      Posted to the web April 20, 2003

      Stonald Kuphunda

      Principal Secretary of Natural Resources and Environment Affairs George
      Mkondiwa said that the fisheries sector needs a lot of attention because
      Malawi is heavily dependant on fishery resources.

      Mkondiwa made the statement on Wednesday at the Malawi Institute of
      Management (MIM) when he officially opened a two-day workshop on the
      development of Malawi's first national *Aqua-culture Development Master
      Plan' document on fish farming which will help farmers implement new
      technologies to help improving their fish farming.

      He also said that about 70 percent of animal proteins consumed by the
      majority of the people in the rural parts of the country come from

      'Fish is a cheap source of protein. It is a source of direct and
      indirect employment to many Malawians,' said Mkondiwa added that it is
      easier to rear fish than cattle, goats or chickens.

      'You do not need a shepherd to raise fish and you do not need labour to
      remove refuse on a daily basis as with other animals,' he added.

      Mkondiwa cited that since 1980s fish stocks in some waters like Lakes
      Chilwa, Malombe, Malawi and Shire river have been declining because of
      persistent irresponsible fishing practices and population pressure.

      'The highest Chambo catch from the lakes was 8,000 tonnes in 1985 but
      has since declined to less than 1,000 tonnes per year recently' said
      Mkondiwa adding that: 'In contrast, the population of Malawi has kept
      rising every year.' The workshop attracted the participation of fish
      farmer clubs, district assemblies, Non-governmental organisation (NGOs)
      and government representatives.

      Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) director and team leader
      [JICA advisor team], Takashi Mizuno said that good development studies
      involves massive interaction with the people concerned.

      'Your participation is the key, and it starts from providing JICA-study
      team with the information of your problems and your future dreams,' said


      Zambia to get a new constitution
      20 April 2003 10:18
      Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa has appointed a commission to draft a
      new democratic constitution for the country within a year, a government
      gazette said on Saturday.

      Mwanawasa has tasked members of the 41-strong commission led by
      prominent lawyer Willa Mung'omba to find out if Zambians want the death
      penalty abolished, among other issues.

      The commission will "examine and recommend the elimination of
      provisions which are perceived to be discriminatory in the
      constitution," the government gazette adds.

      Mwanawasa has also asked the commission to recommend to his government
      how a new constitution could be adopted.

      Members of Zambian civil society have been calling for a special
      conference to adopt a new constitution.

      Meanwhile, five organisations including the Roman Catholic Church have
      refused to participate in the commission, saying they want government
      assurances the draft constitution will not be doctored to suit
      Mwanawasa's interests.

      "They have exercised their democratic right not to participate in this
      important exercise. Indeed in a democracy you cannot all have the same
      views," Mwanawasa said. - Sapa-AFP


      MDC man 'dies after torture'
      21 April 2003 08:35
      A member of Zimbabwe's opposition has died as a result of police
      torture, according to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

      Tonderai Machiridza (32) died after six days in police custody,
      according to the MDC, which issued photographs of the unconscious
      Machiridza being carried to hospital.

      Armed police took him from his home in Chitungwiza, on April 13. Three
      other MDC members were also arrested in Chitungwiza that day, accused of
      having taken a pair of handcuffs from a police officer during the
      national strike organised by the opposition party on March 18 and 19.

      The four were allegedly assaulted by police using truncheons, handcuffs
      and booted feet. Machiridza was bleeding and complained of a severe
      headache before he fell unconscious, said witnesses.

      Two others in his group suffered a broken arm and a broken leg,
      according to the MDC. Police took Machiridza to Chitungwiza hospital
      where he was chained to his bed and received rudimentary care.

      Last Wednesday, a court investigation at his hospital bed resulted in
      an order that Machiridza should be released to receive proper medical
      attention. The court also ordered an investigation into the allegations
      of torture.

      Machiridza died on Friday, the 23rd anniversary of Zimbabwe's

      "The fact that he died on our Independence Day is symbolic of the death
      of all our freedoms and our rights," said an MDC spokesperson, Paul
      Themba Nyathi.
      The MDC claims that 600 of its supporters have been tortured in police
      custody this year. At least four MDC members of parliament say they were
      tortured by police inflicting electric shocks. Independent medical
      examinations have confirmed injuries consistent with their accounts.

      Reports of the death highlighted the grim mood over the Easter holiday,
      in which Zimbabweans suffered food and fuel shortages. Inflation has hit
      228% and unemployment 70%, pushing four-fifths of the population below
      the poverty line.

      Roman Catholic bishops issued an Easter letter denouncing Robert
      Mugabe's government for committing gross human rights abuses while the
      population goes hungry. - Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers
      Limited 2003
    • 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

        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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