- Minister Challenges Nepad, Govt Over Food Security
African Church Information Service
April 21, 2003
Posted to the web April 21, 2003
Malawi's minister for agriculture has, in a rare open attack on
government, warned stakeholders of the New Partnerships for Africa's
Development (NEPAD), that they will not render any meaning towards
poverty alleviation, unless they utilised the country's idle resources.
The minister, Aleke Banda, has blamed his own government for Malawi's
food insecurity, saying available resources were not being used.
"To develop Malawi, we need to have the drive and initiative which we
don't because we are not changing our attitude towards implementing the
goals," charged Banda recently.
He said the country, despite having received substantial donor aid, was
facing acute food shortages due to lack of focused policies, as well as
non-adherence to laid down strategies.
"NEPAD is empty unless we are serious about the concept. I know I have
always been unpopular among my government colleagues because of my
openess," said Banda, who donors have described as the most hard-working
and strategic minister in the current government.
Malawi is among southern African countries hardest hit by hunger due to
erratic weather conditions over the past two harvest seasons.
The country has had to import maize from South Africa and other
countries, to supplement food relief aid from international humanitarian
The country's agro-based economy relies heavily on tobacco, which
injects 75 percent of foreign exchange earnings into national coffers.
In a related development, the country's Economic Planning and
Development Minister, Dr Bingu wa Mutharika, has condemned the
government for insatiable appetite, neglecting the plight of the poor.
Mutharika is former secretary general of the Lusaka-based Common Market
for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) with 20 member states. He also
served at the World Bank, United Nations and as a deputy governor of
Reserve Bank of Malawi, before assuming the ministerial post.
Muluzi has since anointed Mutharika to be his successor to the
presidency, a highly controversial issue which has torn the ruling
party, United Democratic Front (UDF) apart , as power struggle rears its
head ahead of the 2004 general elections.
"I expect that the government will shift its focus from managing
consumption and expenditure towards managing production and income
generation," said Mutharika, adding that priorities in planning will
have to specifically take into account, the needs of the rural majority
Over 65 percent of Malawi's population of 10 million live below the
poverty line of one US dollar per day, while life expectancy is at 43
Donors including the IMF, Britain, the US, EU and Denmark have so far
withheld up to US$87 million in aid over issues of careless spending,
rampant official corruption, delayed privatisation and absence of
accountability, among others.
Zim union calls three-day strike
22 April 2003 10:44
Zimbabwe's main labour body on Monday called for a three-day strike
this week to protest a recent fuel price increase, and threatened to
order an indefinite work stoppage unless the government reverses the
Last week the government almost trebled the pump price of petrol, which
immediately prompted an outcry from the country's biggest union, the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU).
The labour body has said the increases make it impossible for the
average worker to pay commuter fares.
It announced on Monday that it was going to call on its members to
stage "a peaceful three-day stayaway from Wednesday 23 April to Friday
25 April 2003".
"The fuel price increases are not acceptable and the ZCTU demands that
the government reverse the price increase with immediate effect," ZCTU
President Lovemore Matombo said in a statement Monday.
"Unless the government gives in to the above demand the job boycott
will be indefinite," Matombo added.
Earlier, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo was quoted in a newspaper
as saying that the government was looking at measures, including a
review of salaries, to cushion workers from the latest fuel price
"We must endure the pain designed to make our living better," Moyo was
quoted by the state-controlled Herald as saying in justification of the
Erratic fuel supplies to the southern African nation over the past
three years have worsened in recent months due to an acute shortage of
foreign exchange needed to import the commodity.
Moyo said that the government had not unilaterally increased the price
of fuel, the hikes having been decided on by a national forum -- the
Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) -- grouping labour, business and
He said measures to cushion workers, which included a review of
salaries frozen earlier this year, would "have to be finalised and
adopted as a matter of urgency".
But the ZCTU's Matombo said on Monday that the labour body would be
pulling out of TNF-organised talks with government and business, even
after the three parties had agreed to a minimum wage for the country's
"The TNF minimum wage of 46 000 Zimbabwe dollars ($56) has been
overtaken by events," Matombo said.
The labour body's call for a job stayaway is not directly linked to a
similar call for further mass action by the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).
Last month the MDC called a job stayaway to protest alleged
misgovernance by President Robert Mugabe's government. The strike was
widely followed and shut down urban centres across the country.
In a statement Monday the MDC said the labour body was "completely
justified and deserves the support of every progressive Zimbabwean" for
its strike call.
A day after the fuel price rises were announced last week, the MDC
called them "astronomical, bizarre and shocking" and said they proved
that the government was "clueless on how to address the economic ills"
of the country.
The opposition party said the price hikes could lead to the collapse of
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudizijena was quoted in Monday's Herald as
saying the proposed ZCTU work stoppage was illegal. He said the police
were prepared to deal with any disturbances. - Sapa-AFP
Mugabe tells the US to 'go hang'
22 April 2003 07:36
Zimbabwe's autocratic ruler on Monday told the US government to "go
hang" and said the US-led coalition's operations in Iraq were "a grave
President Robert Mugabe, in an Easter interview broadcast on state
television to mark the nation's 23rd anniversary of independence from
British colonial rule, said Western countries described him as a
dictator in the mold of Saddam Hussein.
"When you stick to your principles they say you are a dictator. I am
not a dictator," he said.
In Iraq, "you have a death toll of children, you have people without
limbs, you have in international crime that is being committed ... a
grave criminal act," Mugabe said.
Mugabe castigated the State Department's top official on Africa, Walter
Kansteiner, and President George W. Bush over US criticisms of last
year's presidential elections in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe narrowly won a vote condemned by independent observers as swayed
by political violence and vote rigging.
"Who is Kansteiner to denounce the validity of our election? If he
doesn't listen, let him go hang. Bush, of all people, is saying so. We
stick by our election verdict. What happened in Florida? Who of the two
of us cheated on elections? It was obviously Bush," Mugabe said.
The United States and the European Union, along with Zimbabwe's
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), have refused to accept
the results of last year's poll.
The US government has imposed travel restrictions on Mugabe and
officials in his government and ruling party.
Mugabe acknowledged the southern African nation was facing its worst
economic crisis since independence in 1980 and had experienced "three
years of suffering" since he launched an often violent programme to
confiscate thousands of white-owned farms. But he defended the
"We are delighted at last our land is now the people's land. The white
man has been displaced by the black man. We are strong politically," he
Mugabe described the opposition as "neocolonialist extensions of
Britain" and "agents of imperialism" nurtured by British Prime Minister
Tony Blair and white farmers, the descendants of British colonial-era
"Let it be known we are not totally independent until we take over our
land. Now the land is in our hands, we have the capacity to improve the
lot of our people. These hardships are going to go," he said.
Zimbabwe suffers acute shortages of food, gasoline and essential
The opposition has promised to step up a campaign of strikes,
demonstrations and mass action to demand democratic reforms.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, in his Easter message, urged
supporters to "stand ready for the final call to reclaim our dignity and
"There is gain at the end of pain. We have been through times so hard
and perilous ... We have been confronted by death every day but we shall
never lose hope or surrender," he said.
He said Mugabe's dictatorial rule, backed by sweeping security and
media laws, had to be defied.
"We have now realised that change demands action," Tsvangirai said.
The government on Wednesday trebled the price of regular gasoline and
most bus and commuter fares have more than doubled, taking up as much as
three-quarters of the monthly earnings of workers who live in
impoverished townships surrounding Harare.
At least 200 people have been killed in political violence since 2000
and thousands of others, mostly opposition supporters, have been
arrested, tortured and hounded from their homes, rights groups say.
Police arrested more than 500 opposition officials and activists after
a national strike called by the opposition last month shut down the
economy. At least 250 people were treated for injuries from assaults and
beatings in the initial days of the crackdown, which was condemned by
the United States. - Sapa-AP
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
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
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.
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