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    Malawi Fights Wife Inheritance Malawi Standard (Blantyre) April 23, 2003 Posted to the web April 23, 2003 By Brian Ligomeka Blantyre, Malawi The highest
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      Malawi Fights Wife Inheritance

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      April 23, 2003
      Posted to the web April 23, 2003

      By Brian Ligomeka
      Blantyre, Malawi

      The highest incidence of HIV prevalence in the world can be found in
      Southern African countries such as Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe and South
      Africa. The virus continues to spread rapidly in the region with Malawi
      having over 20 percent HIV prevalence among women reported to be
      attending ante-natal clinics.

      Factors such as cultural norms, values, beliefs and myths have been
      cited as the main catalysts in the spread of HIV, particularly the
      common practice of wife inheritance.

      80-year-old Gogo Grace Fundi of Phalombe explains: "the practice
      entails a brother or relative of the deceased marrying the widow to
      sustain and carry on the family name." The practice is known as chokolo
      in Malawi, in Ngoni, Ndebele and Zulu it is called ukungena while in
      Shona it is called kugara nhaka."

      This traditional practice, it is claimed, has several advantages such
      as preventing the widow from adultery and keeping the wealth of the
      deceased within the family.

      In some societies, the practice is believed to appease the spirit of
      the deceased preventing it from visiting the living and punishing them.

      African culture is rich and deep rooted, and it is widely believed that
      the spirit of the dead live among the people overseeing all their daily
      acitivities. The spirits are said to be in direct contact with the High
      God (Namalenga or Chiuta) to whom they mediate on behalf of the living.

      35-year-old Nasibeko lost her husband, Chilazi some five years ago and
      was inherited by his younger brother.

      "After the death of my husband, the family held consultation meetings
      in adherence to tradition. I was presented with my husband belongings
      (knobkerrie and axe) and asked to place them before the brother whom I
      chose to succeed my brother to take care of me and my children,"
      explains Nasibeko.

      In a solemn ritual, Nasibeko placed the stuff and passed a dish of
      water to Esitedi, her late husband's young brother to inherit her.

      Although Esitedi was married, he accepted her and now takes care of
      Nasibeko and children. They also have a child together in this
      relationship.

      The practice aims to provide means and support for the widow and her
      children in the absence of the husband. In some cases the name of the
      late brother continues to be used, particularly where the husband dies
      without a child.

      However, this traditional practice is becoming risky in the face of
      AIDS because it involves sex. One partner could be infected with HIV and
      this has major implications for the spread of the disease.

      For example, if the late husband's cause of death was AIDS-related, the
      wife inheritor is at risk of contracting HIV if the couple engages in an
      unprotected sex.

      He could also infect his wife. Esitedi could also very likely infect
      his first wife because of his latest partner who could be infected. In a
      case where the brother inheriting the widow is already infected, he can
      pass HIV onto the widow if she was not infected, or re-infect her if she
      is already infected. Wife inheritance therefore exposes both the widow
      and the brother-in-law to HIV infection.

      As President Bakili Muluzi has rightly put it on several occasions,
      time has come that Malawi has now to do away with some archaic cultural
      practices.

      "We should do away with all cultural practices that promote the spread
      of HIV/AIDS," Muluzi once said.

      The main problem here in Malawi is that the cause of death is not
      normally discussed openly and people are left to whisper and hint in
      private about this, particularly if it is AIDS related.

      The culture of silence and denial, stigma, blame and shame has been an
      impediment to efforts aimed at changing people's attitudes and
      behaviour, especially with regard to practices that are potentially
      harmful.

      Limited access to Voluntary Counselling and Testing has forced
      communities to continue this practice despite its implications. A mere
      facial examination cannot determine one's status, hence looking at the
      widow and deciding her HIV/AIDS status has also posed problems.

      Following President Bakili Muluzi's advice that Malawians should scrap
      off some outdated cultural practices, many women have started to say no
      to wife inheritance.

      Shira Mkandawire of Mzimba district but resides in Ndirande Township
      recently refused to be inherited by her late husband's brother.
      "Although I needed the financial support to educate and take care of the
      children my husband left behind, I refused to have one of my late
      husband's brothers or relatives inherit me," she said.

      With the National AIDS Commission, anti AIDS groups and political
      leaders campaigning against HIV/AIDS chances are high that cultural
      factors that fuel the spread of HIV/AIDS will be gotten rid of.

      *****

      People Support UDF NEC Elections

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      April 23, 2003
      Posted to the web April 23, 2003

      By Aubrey Sumbuleta
      Blantyre, Malawi

      People at the grassroot level have expressed happiness with the
      proposal for Dr Bingu Wa Mutharika and Dr Cassim Chilumpha to lead the
      party in next year's elections as presidential candidate and running
      mate, respectively.

      Apart from the UDF national executive committee, cabinet and Members of
      Parliament as well as local councillors, the main base of the party is
      with local people and traditional leaders.

      It is interesting and pleasing to note that before the UDF convention,
      which will debate on the two proposed candidates.

      UDF members at grassroot level have already thrown their support on Dr
      Bingu Wa Mutharika and Dr Cassim Chilumpha.

      The UDF members have described the two proposed politicians as 'men
      with the right democratic, professional and academic credentials to lead
      the nation.

      Traditional Authority Machinjiri of Blantyre said that the proposal of
      Bingu Wa Mutharika and Cassim Chilumpha by the UDF National Executive
      Committee and cabinet is going down well in the minds of people in his
      area.

      He said that with the better qualification and leadership skills that
      the two leaders have, the people that he leads as traditional chief are
      definitely going to give their vote to the UDF in next years elections.

      "Dr Bakili Muluzi and the UDF must count on me that the two will get
      enough support from my people," the chief told The Malawi Standard.

      Patricia Kaliati, a UDF parliamentarian in Mulanje district said that
      after making consultations with people in her constituency, she has no
      problems in supporting Dr Bingu Wa Mutharika and Dr Cassim Chilumpha as
      people to lead us in next year's general elections.

      "The advantage is that we will have all the support from Dr Bakili
      Muluzi who is an ever hard working man," she said.

      Kaliati said that as a Parliamentarian, who stays with her people right
      in her constituency, she has seen that the two proposed names have
      overwhelming support from people in the local communities.

      Danwik Makari, from Malaya Village in Traditional Authority Nkalo in
      Chiradzulu said that he was not surprised with the election of Dr Bingu
      Wa Mutharika as the proposed UDF presidential candidate in next year's
      elections.

      "I know Bingu Wa Mutharika and we even walk from our village to his in
      Thyolo, a lot of people there like him and are proud of him," he said.

      Makari predicted that coming and belonging to the villages where the
      UDF has always enjoyed strong support, he has no problems that Dr Wa
      Mutharika and the UDF party will have sweeping victory in next year's
      elections.

      *****

      Malawi's Opposition Campaign Strategy Off Balance

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      April 23, 2003
      Posted to the web April 23, 2003

      By Dickson Kashoti
      Blantyre, Malawi

      Opposition political parties have admitted that they have to go back to
      the drawing board to design their campaign strategy for the 2004
      presidential elections following President Bakili Muluzi's announcement
      that the UDF National Executive Committee and the Cabinet have proposed
      Dr. Bingu Wa Mutharika as a possible presidential candidate and Dr.
      Cassim Chilumpha as his possible running mate.

      The new caninet, which includes Chakufwa Chihana as Second Vice
      President, some Aford officials has further put the opposition off
      balance further because it has strongly united Malawians along regional
      and political lines. The new cabinet is indeed a formula that the
      opposition will fail to solve at the 2004 polls.
      Leon H. Sullivan Summit

      National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Director of Publicity, Salule
      Masangwi, has said that the initial strategy for their campaign was on
      the Third Term issue.

      "Now that President Muluzi has declared that he is not standing in
      observance of the Malawi Constitution, we shall see what to do. But
      obviously we are not threatened with the proposal of Dr. Bingu wa
      Mutharika as the UDF Presidential Candidate.

      "We in NDA wish him well as a presidential candidate. He is most
      welcome as a candidate," Masangwi said.

      Masangwi also admitted that it would be difficult for the NDA to
      dislodge the UDF from power.

      "We want to go into coalition with our friends who are interested. We
      need the unity. We have already started working with some individuals in
      the parties but if the other parties refuse, we might do it alone," he
      said.

      Commenting on the leadership crisis and power struggle in the Malawi
      Congress Party, Masangwi said he hoped the issues would be resolved at
      the party's convention slated for next month.

      "The party is merely cleaning its offices. It is putting its house in
      order. I am sure we will work with them after the Convention, after all
      this mess is gone," he said.

      MCP Deputy Regional Chairman, Nicholas Dausi, who was once the party's
      Publicity Secretary said the MCP gurus will now have to sit and make a
      good campaign strategy after the announcement that Dr. Wa Mutharika has
      been proposed as a possible contestant in the presidential election.

      He described Dr. Wa Mutharika as a clean politician who needed support
      and encouragement.

      "It is not good to castigate him. We need to give him support and
      time," Dausi said.

      Dausi also welcomed the UDF's move to restructure the party to have two
      separate offices of chairman and president, which will see the chairman
      solely responsible for the party's activities while the president will
      be responsible for government activities.

      "It is encouraging that the party will now have a new face. I hope this
      will strengthen the party much. This means democracy will be
      strengthened as well," he said.

      Alliance for Democracy (Aford) former executive member Green Mwamondwe
      also said now that the UDF will not field President Muluzi as a
      presidential candidate during the 2004 election, the party machinery
      ought to come up with a good campaign strategy.

      He lamented, however, that this might not be possible because of
      internal conflicts Aford, which he said might affect the fielding of
      candidates in the election.

      Mwamondwe described Dr. Wa Mutharika as a good candidate.

      Nixon Khembo, a political scientist at Chancellor College in Zomba
      described Dr. Wa Mutharika as a unifying figure.

      He has several advantages. One of them is that he is a unifying figure.
      For instance, when people were debating the Third Term Bill issue, he
      did not comment. He is therefore a unifying figure between the
      anti-Third Term Bill and the pro-Third Term Bill," Khembo said.

      He also said that Dr. Wa Mutharika is a neutral person and will be a
      unifying figure between what he described as the old guards in UDF who
      might not have liked a young candidate to stand as a presidential
      candidate and what he dubbed the new blood in UDF, which could not have
      liked the leadership of the party go to what he said undeserved
      leadership.

      Khembo asked Dr. Wa Mutharika to use several strategies to win
      Malawians' hearts during the presidential election.

      "He must instantly come out and talk about reforms in government.

      He must talk about anti-corruption reforms. The advantage with him is
      that he is clean, therefore he will be able to rise up against
      corruption," he said.

      Khembo also said that Dr. Wa Mutharika should tell Malawians how he is
      going transform the economy.

      He said Dr. Wa Mutharika has the advantage of transforming the
      country's economy because of his good academic background.

      Dr. Wa Mutharika, 69, and hails from Kamoto Village in Chief
      Chimaliro's area in Thyolo studied at the University of Dehli, India,
      where he obtained a Bachelor of Commerce Degree majoring in Mercantile
      (Business) Law, advanced accountancy, monetary economics and political
      science and a Master's Degree in Economics majoring in International
      trade, monetary economics and development economics.

      He later obtained a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Development
      Economics from the Pacific Western University, Los Angels, US apart from
      attending short courses on trade and commercial policy, regional
      economic integration, financing and business management.

      He served at high management levels in the civil service of the
      Government of Malawi, the Government of Zambia, the United Nations and
      later as Secretary General of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern
      Africa (COMESA).

      Commenting on the restructuring process in the UDF, Khembo described it
      as a good democratic move that should be supported. "In terms of good
      governance, it is a positive move.

      This releases the burden of the president to running the affairs of
      government whilst the party machinery is managed through the
      chairmanship of the party.

      This will indeed ensure separation of powers between government and
      party activities whilst strengthening the party system," he said.

      Forum for the Defence of the Constitution (FDC) Chairperson, Reverend
      Daniel Gunya, has observed that chances for the UDF and its prospective
      candidate, Dr. Wa Mutharika,to win the 2004 Presidential polls are
      high.

      Gunya said the Forum welcomed the election of Dr. Wa Mutharika as
      proposed Presidential candidate and Dr. Cassim Chilumpha as his possible
      running mate.

      *****

      The Ruling UDF Gears for Victory

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      April 23, 2003
      Posted to the web April 23, 2003

      By Aubrey Sumbuleta
      Blantyre, Malawi

      Malawi President Bakili Muluzi has said that the ruling United
      Democratic Front (UDF) is geared for victory despite the mushrooming of
      political parties in the country.

      Speaking at a rally he addressed in Bangwe, Blantyre, Muluzi said that
      the UDF is poised to win the 2004 general elections, because it has a
      huge following throughout the country, and has sound development
      policies and programmes for poverty eradication.

      He explained that the UDF is not moved by the formation of new
      political parties.

      "I am not shaken by new political groupings.

      They must brace themselves for an up hill task during the forthcoming
      general elections, our Constitution makes it clear that every Malawian
      has the right to register a political party," he said.

      He reminded people that in the run-up to the 1993 referendum, he told
      Malawians that the one party regime of Dr Kamuzu Banda would collapse,
      and true to his words, Malawians voted for change in the referendum.

      "In 1994, I said that the UDF would win the general elections and we
      won the elections," said Muluzi.

      He added: "In 1999 my prediction was also right. I told all Malawians
      that the UDF would beat the MCP-AFORD alliance at the polls and it
      happened. Today I am repeating the same words, UDF would win the 2004
      general elections," he said.

      He vowed that he would use all his energies, wisdom, political vigour
      and candour to make sure that the proposed UDF Presidential Candidate,
      Dr Bingu Wa Mutharika, and his possible running mate, Dr Cassim
      Chilumpha, and the UDF win the elections.

      "UDF is my baby, it is my party.

      I will vigorously campaign for Bingu and Cassim Chilumpha to make sure
      that they win," said Muluzi adding: "Bingu, I will support you, Cassim,
      I will support you and I will support all my MPs."

      The president also challenged MCP president Gwanda Chakuamba that he
      can not make it to Sanjika Palace as he claims.

      Muluzi said that the UDF is a political party, which is managed by God,
      because it is God himself who liberated Malawians from the MCP political
      bondage and slavery.

      He hailed people for supporting the government in its political,
      economic and development endeavours. He observed that the UDF is growing
      from strength to strength adding that all those who made a mistake of
      being lured by failed politicians through empty promises are free to
      rejoin the party.

      He appealed to UDF leaders to work extra harder in strengthening the
      party.

      " Every party leader from area, branch, district, regional and national
      executive level must work extra hard.

      I will not condone lazy politicians to cling to power in my party," he
      said.

      He advised the newly elected cabinet ministers to work hard and to be
      on the forefront of development activities.

      *****

      President Bakili Muluzi Urges Tobacco Buyers to Pay Farmers Well

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      April 23, 2003
      Posted to the web April 23, 2003

      By Aubrey Sumbuleta
      Blantyre, Malawi

      President Bakili Muluzi has told tobacco buyers to pay farmers good
      prices to realise government's goal of poverty reduction.

      He was speaking at Limbe Auction Holdings Floors when he officially
      opened the 2003 Tobacco Marketing Season.

      Muluzi said that one works hard and invests one's time and money to
      produce high quality tobacco. He said that much money goes in land
      preparation, inputs and transport.

      "It is thus very disheartening to read and hear in the print and
      electronic media that the marketing of tobacco has been disrupted
      because the prices are too low.

      "This is very unfortunate indeed for the tobacco industry. I believe
      that while the grower cannot survive without the buyer, the buyer too
      cannot survive without the grower. Hence, the two have a social
      responsibility to each other," he said.

      He therefore appealed to buyers to pay appropriate prices to ensure
      that tobacco growers have reasonable income from their production,
      adding that the good income would encourage further production of good
      quality tobacco.

      President Muluzi also asked farmers to grade their tobacco
      professionally if their tobacco was to fetch good prices on the auction
      floors.

      However, the president said that he was encouraged that this year
      Malawi would produce about 2 million kilogrammes more tobacco than last
      year.

      He said that he regards the Limbe Auction Floors and those in Lilongwe
      and Mzuzu as part of his government's policy and programme of poverty
      eradication.

      "As I have always said, poverty eradication remains the centrepiece of
      my government's development policy.

      "Moreover, to me poverty eradication does not imply government giving
      the people free inputs for growing tobacco. What is important is that
      government must empower farmers by providing them with the necessary
      opportunities and environment for growing and marketing tobacco," he
      said.

      Muluzi said that he was aware that tobacco farmers experience several
      problems in the production of the crop some of them beyond human
      control, for example the drought that occurred in some parts of the
      country.

      He said that his government would as much as is possible continue to
      play its role of providing production and market information,
      infrastructure and explore provision of private sector led credit
      facilities.

      He said that furthermore, government would endeavour to reduce or
      entirely remove constraints that hinder the growth of the industry,
      which would include costs of inputs and levy.

      Muluzi said that it was very important for tobacco growers to always
      regard tobacco production as a business like any other business that has
      production rules and market demands.

      "It is thus imperative for growers to be responsive to market demands
      and grow high quality tobacco that would always earn them a good
      income," he said.

      The president continued that despite World Health Organisation's
      mounting threats to regulate the production of tobacco, the government
      would continue boosting the performance of the tobacco industry until
      viable alternatives are identified.

      The Second Vice President, Chakufwa Chihana, who is also Minister of
      Agriculture, Irrigation and Food Security estimated that Malawi would
      this year produce 120 million kilogrammes of burley against 125.3
      million kg last year.

      He also estimated that the country would produce 15.6 million kg of
      flue cured tobacco as compared to 11.15 million kg last year, three
      million kg of Northern Division Dark Fire (NDDF) cured tobacco against
      1.35 kg last season and 500,000 kg of Southern Division Fire (SDF) cured
      tobacco against 250,000 kg last year.

      Chihana said the reduction in burley this year is mainly due to the
      shift by Press Agriculture and ADMARC from burley to flue cured
      tobacco.

      He said the demand for tobacco on the international market still
      exists.

      Chihana said that for this year, the tobacco buyers are prepared to buy
      140 to 145 million kg of Burely tobacco, 125 million kg of Flue cured
      tobacco, 8 to 20 kg of NDDF and five million kg of SDF.

      The Second Vice President also said that the marketing season started
      about a month earlier than has been the tradition. Limbe Auction Floors
      opened on March 11, 2003 and Lilongwe Auction Floors on the following
      day.

      The Mzuzu Auction Floors, he said, could not open early due to the fact
      that insufficient tobacco was delivered and the market is scheduled to
      open next Tuesday.

      "The decision to open the floors early has not only allowed the tobacco
      producer access to cash earlier but has also assisted in reducing the
      informal cross border trade.

      "The tobacco grower, among other reasons connected to prices, sold the
      crop across the border to access cash at a time when cash was most
      needed.

      This informal cross border trade did not only deprive the government
      tax revenue but also the much needed foreign exchange. The early opening
      of the floors has therefore significantly reduced the informal cross
      border trade," he said.

      Chihana said that tobacco is the engine of growth in Malawi and this
      will be the case for some time to come since currently no suitable
      alternative commodity to replace tobacco has been identified.

      He said he was raising the issue because of mounting threats globally
      to control production and consumption of tobacco.

      "This threat is real considering that WHO is spearheading ratification
      of the Framework Convention of Tobacco Control by members of the United
      Nations," he said.

      He, however said that as the convention is going to be ratified, Malawi
      will continue growing tobacco into the distant future, especially due to
      the fact that the economy is dependent on the crop and also there is no
      close substitute in terms of generation of household income and foreign
      exchange.

      *****

      Community Police to Fight Crime

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      April 23, 2003
      Posted to the web April 23, 2003

      By Dickson Kashoti
      Blantyre, Malawi

      The Malawi Police Service has come in swiftly to combat crime in
      Bangwe, Blantyre by involving the community following an increase in
      complaints by people who were way laid during nights and robbed of their
      valuables including money.

      George Kainja, Southern Region Community Policing boss, has said in an
      interview that police officers from the region visited Mthandizi area in
      Bangwe, Blantyre last week where they sensitised the community on the
      advantages of having community-based policing in the Township.

      "This is a new concept. We have to reinforce our messages to the
      community. Next week, the community will elect a committee," he said.

      Among other things, residents of Mthandizi were entertained to drama by
      police officers on how to make community policing effective.

      According to residents in the Township, at least six people were way
      laid last week at night, including a sex worker who had all her clothes
      stripped off by unknown thugs who are terrorising the small Township,
      about two kilometres away from Limbe.

      Willie Chingaru, Officer-in-Charge of Community Policing said in
      another interview that there are seven Station Executive Committees
      (SEC) in the Northern Region, 12 in the Centre, 10 in the South, and
      four in the Eastern Division.

      SECs administer and manage safety and security at the regional level.

      He said that there are 58 Community Police Forums (CPFs) in the
      Northern Region, 90 in the Centre, 66 in the South and 45 in Eastern
      Division. CPFs administer and manage community police forum at
      traditional authority level.

      Chingaru also said that there are 698 Community Police Programmes (CPP)
      in Northern Region, 791 in the Centre, 791 in the South and 289 in the
      Eastern Division. CPPs manage and administer safety and security at
      group village headman level.

      The Community Police Officer-in-Charge also said that there are 15
      Watch Schemes in the North, 1720 in the Centre, 29 in the South and 1028
      in the Eastern Division.

      Chingaru said the police are involved in community based policing by
      arresting suspects, conducting patrols, holding community policing
      meetings, recovering stolen property, sending crime information to
      police, establishing community structures, dissolving community policing
      structures that are displaying bad habits, sensitising members of the
      community and police officers about community based policing,
      establishing strong partnerships with members of the community and civic
      education and sensitisation to both the police and the public.

      Asked the benefits of community policing, Chingaru said: "Shared
      responsibility and involvement of all stakeholders in the community
      including the police in issues of crime prevention, community safety and
      security."

      He also said the benefits include professional policing, development of
      an understanding of how the police work, identifying and solving crime
      related problems of a specific community in partnership, responsive to
      the needs of that community, proactive policing that has prompted crime
      prevention and creation of strong relationships between the police and
      communities.

      He also said that community policing pool resources and ideas on crime
      prevention, through community policing, the police is now a service not
      a force, accountable, open and identifiable, professional and people
      centred, visible and accessible, consultative and participative as well
      as fair and non discriminatory.

      "It also delivers a quality service, prompt, polite, effective, much
      more business like and demonstrating the value for money. It mobilises
      the majority of law abiding citizens to work with the Malawi Police
      Service to arrest criminals," he said.

      He said some of the principles of good practices in community-based
      policing include assessing intervention, goal oriented planning,
      supervision, monitoring and control, evaluation and reporting.

      *****

      Zimbabwe strike holds
      Many shops and businesses across Zimbabwe have remained closed on the
      second day of a national strike, in protest at the government's decision
      to triple the price of fuel.

      The streets of the capital, Harare, were reported to be busy with some
      small shops and fast food outlets open but banks and large outlets were
      shut.

      Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo, remains quiet.

      The three day strike called by the country's main labour movement has
      been declared illegal and police are patrolling the streets.

      But there have been no reports of trouble so far.

      The economy is in desperate trouble with inflation running at more than
      200%, soaring unemployment and shortages of fuel and foreign currency.

      Zimbabwe's Congress of Trade Unions argues that for many workers it
      will now cost more almost as much to get to work as they would earn in a
      day.

      It has pledged to extend the job boycott indefinitely unless the
      government reverses the price increase.

      "For now we are happy to say this strike has been massive and the
      government should listen to the message from (the) strike," a union
      official told Reuters new agency.

      The government said the 200% rise in petrol prices was necessary to
      help pay for fuel imports. which have become scarce since shipments from
      Libya stopped last year.

      And it has threatened to withdraw operating permits from transport
      operators who join in the strike.

      Arrests

      The opposition Movement for Democratic Change has backed the strike and
      called on all progressive Zimbabweans to support it.

      President Robert Mugabe
      Mugabe faces domestic and foreign pressure
      Three trade union officials were detained by police in Bulawayo in
      connection with the strike call.

      Last month, the MDC staged a two-day strike that shut down about 80% of
      businesses and industries in one of the biggest protests seen in
      Zimbabwe.

      In a security crackdown that followed, hundreds of MDC officials were
      arrested.

      Speaking in a televised interview marking the 23rd anniversary of
      independence, Mr Mugabe blamed the country's current economic problems
      on the MDC, whom he described as a neo-colonialist extension of
      Britain.

      But he also said he was ready to meet MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to
      discuss the crisis if the opposition recognised his disputed re-election
      last year.

      But Mr Tsvangirai rejected this offer saying his party would press on
      with its challenge to the legality of Mugabe's re-election.

      Zimbabwe's opposition leader told the BBC's Network Africa that he
      would not accept pre-conditions for talks.

      Independent observers have said that Zimbabwe's presidential election
      was neither free nor fair.

      Nearly eight million Zimbabweans face food shortages which President
      Robert Mugabe's government blames on drought but critics pin partly on
      his land reform policy.

      *****

      Mugabe won't step down, says Leon
      Donwald Pressly | Cape Town
      24 April 2003 13:48
      Reacting to the hint that President Robert Mugabe could retire, South
      African opposition leader Tony Leon says said the Zimbabwean president
      made conciliatory statements "in order to buy time but he has no
      intention of being bound by his words".

      Mugabe hinted this week he would retire once his land reform project
      was completed.

      Leon said reports that Mugabe was building a R37-million mansion at a
      time when his fellow Zimbabweans faced starvation and members of the
      opposition were being tortured and killed "further illustrates the
      venality of his regime but do not prove his intent to step down".

      "Even if suggestions of President Mugabe's retirement were to be
      accepted as true, they would not go far enough in addressing Zimbabwe's
      political crisis. The problem in Zimbabwe is not just President Mugabe
      but the entire corrupt elite that surrounds him."

      Leon said that the only real and just remedy for Zimbabwe was a return
      to democracy -- through holding fresh presidential elections and
      monitored by international observers.

      Leon said President Mugage's heir apparent was Zimbabwe Parliament
      Speaker Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom he described as "a man who has no
      respect for democracy or human rights."

      Leon said Mnangagwa was recently named in a United Nations report as
      being the "architect" of the Zimbabwean army's campaign of plunder in
      the Democratic Republic of Congo.

      "He funneled riches to Zanu-PF cronies as the Cognolese people bled,
      and has been implicated in the trade of conflict diamonds."

      Leon said Mnangagwa was also head of the Central Intelligence
      Organisation during the 1982-87 Matabeleland genocide.

      The Democratic Alliance (DA) leader said Mnangagwa was embraced and
      applauded by ANC officials at the ANC National Conference in December
      2002.

      "But to the Zimbabwean people, he is not a man to be trusted," said
      Leon.

      Leon said he had sent a letter to President Thabo Mbeki requesting that
      he make public the Commonwealth Secretary General's report on the
      Commonwealth chairpersons' committee on Zimbabwe.

      "I have also asked that he (the president) president it to the Speaker
      (of the National Assembly) for distribution to all MPs and for debate in
      the National Assembly." - I-Net Bridge
    • Christine Chumbler
      ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17 The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22, 2006
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        ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract

        by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17

        The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by government to look for another contractor instead of China Hunan Construction to construct of the long awaited Karonga/Chitipa road.

        China Hunan from Mainland China won the bid which was approved by the ADB but government later wanted to award the contract to a Portuguese firm, Mota Engil, the second lowest bidder, claiming China Hunan's bid was unrealistically low and that the company had very little experience in Africa.

        Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe confirmed on Sunday the ADB rejected the proposal at a meeting held between the bank and Malawi government in Tunisia last week.

        The Malawi government wanted the Tunisia meeting to authorise it to get another contractor for the road, said Gondwe.

        "They did not allow us to look for another contractor because of their regulations. But we are about to get another alternative for Karonga/Chitipa and I would be surprised if it does not start before end June," said Gondwe.

        The minister explained that the bank insisted that regardless of the unrealistic cost estimates, China Hunan should be allowed to go ahead with the construction.

        But Gondwe could not give further details about the alternatives, arguing there are still a few loose ends to tighten up before disclosing it.

        The problem with China Hunan, according to Gondwe, is that it would require more money to meet the total cost of the project.

        This paper reported last week that government met Taiwanese representatives where they offered to fund the road if the ADB continued to reject its favoured contractor, Mota Engil.

        Gondwe could neither confirm nor deny the reports on the Taiwanese offer, saying government was looking at a number of ways to handle the issue.

        According to Gondwe, the China Hunan's bid was 24 percent lower than the consulting engineers' estimates of K7.9 billion and 34 percent below the second lowest bidder.

        President Bingu wa Mutharika laid a foundation stone for the construction of the road this year ahead of a crucial byelection in Chitipa in December last year.

        The President's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the Chitipa Wenya constituency by-election that fell vacant following the collapse and subsequent death of Speaker of Parliament Rodwell Munyenyembe who belonged to the UDF.

        Last week, police and the District Commissioner (DC) for Chitipa stopped a rally that was aimed at soliciting people's views about development projects in the district.

        The meeting, which was reportedly organised by Concerned Citizens of Chitipa, was among other things also supposed to tackle the controversial Karonga/Chitipa road.

        The project failed to start off in 2000 when a contract for an initial loan of US$17 million and US$15 million from the Taiwanese government was signed, with some quarters claiming the Bakili Muluzi administration diverted the money to another road.

        *****

        Chihana operated on

        by Edwin Nyirongo, 22 May 2006 - 06:32:31

        Alliance for Democracy (Aford) president Chakufwa Chihana, who is in South Africa receiving treatment, had a brain operation on Friday at Garden City Clinic, family and party officials confirmed on Sunday.

        Aford national chairman Chipimpha Mughogho said he was told by the family members that Chihana had a successful operation on Friday and was put in an intensive care unit.

        Mughogho said Chihana, who initially complained of headache, was found with a brain tumour which South African doctors removed.

        Mzimba West MP Loveness Gondwe said Aford boss condition was stable.

        "Hon. Chihana had a major operation and after that he was put in the intensive care unit but his condition is stable. I do not know where he was operated on but it had something to do with the skull," she said.

        Deputy Information Minister John Bande referred the matter to the Health Minister Hetherwick Ntaba who was reported to be in Geneva, Switzerland.

        Aford publicity secretary Norman Nyirenda said when Chihana's situation got worse, the family alerted the Office of the President and Cabinet who took him to Mwaiwathu Private Hospital.

        "The doctors at Mwaiwathu advised that he should be sent to South Africa and they even identified the doctor for him," he said.

        He said the costs are being met by the Malawi government, contradicting his earlier statement that his boss covered the cost.

        Mughogho is now in charge of the party.

        Gondwe will be a busy person when Parliament starts meeting on June 6 as she is the only Aford MP remaining.

        *****

        Pillane proposes presidential age limit

        by Emmanuel Muwamba , 22 May 2006 - 06:34:13

        A member of the DPP National Governing Council Abdul Pillane on Saturday urged members of political parties and the civil society to put an upper age limit in the Constitution for presidential candidates.

        Pillane was addressing members of political parties and civil society in Liwonde during a two-day follow up workshop to the National Conference on the Review of Constitution held in March in Lilongwe.

        "My view is that (an upper) age limit should be at 75. We have to give a chance to younger people to lead because in circumstance, when you age you become forgetful especially when sickly," said Pillane. "Overall, chances should be given to young people."

        But UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala, whose party members agitated for the age limit during presentations, played the issue down.

        "I feel there is no logic to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates. If someone is 90 or 80 I don't know how that can influence the electorate not to vote for someone who is younger, I don't see any logic behind that," said Makwangwala.

        MCP participants at the workshop also vehemently objected to the proposal.

        MCP vice president Nicholas Dausi in an interview said: "There is no constitution in Africa which stipulates an upper age limit. So it would be strange in Malawi to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates."

        MDP President Kamlepo Kalua also opposed the need to have an upper age limit.

        "If we have personalities in mind that we want to discriminate against then it is unfortunate. The constitution we want to build is a guiding document for future generations and it should not bar certain individuals on the basis of grudges," he said.

        The Malawi Law Constitution Issues Paper of March 2006 says several submissions that were received put an upper presidential age limit in the Constitution.

        "It is argued that it is common sense that mental knowledge faculties tend to fail with age. As regards what the actual age limit should be the submissions are far from being agreed. The range is from 60 years to 80 years," read submissions in the Issues Paper.

        On whether MPs should double as ministers, Kalua said this should be the case.

        Makwangwala also said it is not right for MPs to serve as ministers because the Legislature, another arm of government, is reduced while the Executive branch is beefed up from another arm of government.

        "There is no separation of powers when MPs double as ministers," said Makwangwala.

        But Pillane said there is no problem for MPs to work as ministers as well, saying MPs are elected by the President.

        "One can serve both posts. There have been no problems before for people to double," said Pillane.

        The Centre for Multiparty Democracy funded the workshop through the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.

        The objective was to come up with a collective position on the Issues Paper which will be presented to the Special Law Commission that will be constituted soon.

        *****

        Mussa hails new driving licence

        by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:58:52

        Transport and Public Works Minister Henry Mussa last week said the design of the Malawi-Sadc driving licence would guard against forgery and ensure that only skilled and legitimate drivers of particular vehicles are licensed.

        Mussa was speaking at the official launch of the licences in Lilongwe where he announced that traffic police would from July enforce speed limits and sober driving using Breathalysers which his ministry is in the process of procuring.

        The minister said financial constraints are the reason for the delay in procuring the equipment but assured that by July they would be available.

        "With the new equipment, the days of those who believe in the thrill of drink and driving are numbered," warned Mussa.

        Mussa added that with the new licence, government is optimistic that the country's roads would be safe.

        Acting Director of Road Traffic James Chirwa said the features that distinguish the new from the old licences are the Malawi national flag and a ghost image of the driver's photograph, among others.

        Those with old licences, according to Chirwa, are expected to get the new ones after the expiry of the former.

        *****

        UDF demands investigation on Kasambara

        by Rabecca Theu, 22 May 2006 - 06:30:46

        The United Democratic Front (UDF) has asked government to investigate Ralph Kasambara on allegations of abuse of office while he was attorney general.

        UDF publicity secretary Sam Mpasu told the press Sunday that the party is neither amused or saddened by the removal of the former AG but asked government to institute investigations on Kasambara.

        "Beyond the removal of the Attorney General, we now urge President Mutharika to institute investigation against Mr Kasambara into allegations that have made rounds in the public domain during the recent past. These include: Mrs Helen Singh and SS Rent-a-Car; SGS and ITS saga; ...........the use of Malawi Police Service in the arrest of three Chronicle journalists and the handling of Mrs Rubina Kawonga," said Mpasu.

        Mpasu also accused Kasambara of awarding government contracts to Lawson and Company where he was a senior partner.

        "We urge government to thoroughly investigate the former AG. We also ask government to cautiously select the new AG ," said Mpasu, who was accompanied by the party's Secretary General Kennedy Makwangwala, leader of the party in Parliament George Mtafu, chief whip Leonard Mangulama and a member of the executive Hophmally Makande.

        But Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati said UDF should give offer its advice to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB).

        "They should advise bodies like the Anti-Corruption Bureau to conduct the investigations and why are they saying this now? Is it because Kasambara has been fired? This is not a personal issue. If they have other pressing issues they should just say so. These arguments should have come up earlier on when the said cases were happening," she said.

        Kasambara asked UDF to proceed with the mission of urging government to investigate him.

        "They can do their job. Everyone has a right to lobby for anything they want in the country. UDF has a right to do that, let them go ahead," he said.

        Kasambara was relieved of his duties as AG by the President last week. Government has not given reasons behind the removal.

        *****

        Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land

        The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

        May 18, 2006

        Posted to the web May 19, 2006

        Andrew Lungu

         

        MALAWIANS who have encroached on both the 'no-man's' and part of the Zambian land at the Mwami border in Eastern Province have plucked out some beacons that were used in the demarcation of the border.

        The Malawians are now using the beacons as stools in their newly-established villages on Zambian land.

        Eastern Province Minister, Boniface Nkhata, said in Chipata yesterday that if the situation was not controlled urgently, Zambia would lose huge tracts of land to Malawians migrating into Zambian in large numbers.

        A check at the Zambia-Malawi border showed a number of beacons had been vandalised and new structures constructed on the 'no man's' land and a large portion of Zambian land.

        Mr Nkhata said the trend extended to many parts of the province bordering the two countries.

        "A large portion of Zambian land has been taken up by the Malawians starting from the Chama boundary up to the Mwami border.

        "The weighbridge at the Mwami border was initially in Zambia from the time both countries gained independence from Britain, but now the bridge is on Malawian soil," Mr Nkhata said.

        The minister, who is former Chama District Commissioner, said there was similar encroachment in Lundazi and Chama districts where Zambia shares a boundary with Malawi.

        He said a Malawian farmer identified as Mr Mfune had cultivated 71.5 hectares on Zambian land and employed about 265 Malawian workers.

        "Khombe Farm in Chama district in Kanyerere's area, along the Muyombe road which leads to Northern Province where this Malawian farmer has cultivated a vast land is on the Zambian territory," he said.

        Workers on the farm admitted that they were farming on Zambian soil but could not go back to Malawi because the land in that country was inadequate for cultivation.

        Mr Nkhata appealed to the ministry of Lands to urgently release money for the demarcation of the Zambia-Malawi border to avoid further land disputes between the two countries.

        Meanwhile, the Immigration Department in Livingstone has arrested a couple and another man, all Zimbabweans, for working in Zambia without permits.

        They were arrested at Gwembe village yesterday where they worked for Into Africa, a tour operating company that provides bush dinners and breakfast.

        According to the Immigration Department in Livingstone, the trio entered Zambia through the Victoria Falls border as visitors but decided to work for the company illegally.

        Last week, immigration officers arrested 10 Zimbabwean traders and six Ethiopians for entering and staying in Zambia illegally.

        The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.

        The Ethiopians were arrested at Konje Guest House when they ran out of money to proceed to Botswana.

         

        *****

        Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests

        Harare, Zimbabwe

        22 May 2006 11:51

        Zimbabwe's biggest labour federation on Saturday threatened to call massive demonstrations against the government over poor salaries and worsening living conditions for workers in the country.

        The threats are ratcheting up pressure against President Robert Mugabe's government after similar threats by the biggest opposition party in the country, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), about two months ago.

        Speaking at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) conference on Saturday, the labour body's president, Lovemore Matombo, said the powerful union wants the government to award workers salaries that match the country's ever-rising inflation.

        "I can assure you we will stage massive demonstrations to force them [employers] to award workers minimum salaries that tally with the poverty datum line," said Matombo.

        Matombo did not say when exactly the ZCTU would order workers to strike.

        Opposition protests

        Meanwhile, the MDC on Sunday said it will push ahead with plans for anti-government protests, saying victory in a key by-election at the weekend was a "sign the electorate supported its policies", including democratic mass resistance.

        A spokesperson of the main faction of the splintered MDC, Nelson Chamisa, said victory over Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF and a rival MDC faction in a Saturday by-election in Harare's Budiriro constituency is a sign Zimbabweans still have confidence in party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his policies.

        Tsvangirai, the founding leader of the MDC, heads the main rump of the opposition party whose candidate, Emmanuel Chisvuure, polled 7 949 votes to win the Budiriro House of Assembly seat.

        Gabriel Chaibva of the other faction of the MDC, led by prominent academic Arthur Mutambara, garnered 504 votes while Zanu-PF's Jeremiah Bvirindi polled 3 961 votes.

        "This election showed that the electorate still has confidence in the MDC [Tsvangirai-led] leadership and its policies," Chamisa told independent news service ZimOnline.

        He added: "We will now move to consolidate our position * we still believe in mass protests. Until we have attained our goals we see no reason why we should abandon [plans for protests]."

        Tsvangirai has threatened to call mass protests this winter against Mugabe and his government. He says the mass protests, whose date he is still to name, are meant to force Mugabe to relinquish power to a government of national unity to be tasked to write a new and democratic Constitution that would ensure free and fair elections held under international supervision.

        Mugabe and his government, who had hoped for victory in Budiriro to show they were recapturing urban support from a splintered MDC, have not taken idly the opposition's threats to call mass protests, with the veteran president warning Tsvangirai he would be "dicing with death" if he ever attempted to instigate a Ukraine-style popular revolt in Zimbabwe.

        Crackdown

        In a fresh crackdown against dissension, the police last week arrested several church and civic leaders for organising public prayers and marches to mark last year's controversial home-demolition exercise by the government.

        The police also banned the marches and prayers, fearing they could easily turn into mass protests against Mugabe and his government.

        However, the marches went ahead in the second-largest city of Bulawayo after organisers had obtained a court order barring the police from stopping the march.

        Political analysts say although Zimbabweans have largely been cowed by Mugabe's tactics of routinely deploying riot police and the military to crush street protests, worsening hunger and poverty are fanning public anger that Tsvangirai -- with proper planning and organisation -- could easily manipulate.

        Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe six-year old economic crisis that has seen inflation breaching the 1 000% barrier. Last year, the World Bank said Zimbabwe's economic crisis was unprecedented for a country not at war.

        The MDC and major Western governments blame Mugabe for wrecking the country's economy, which was one of the strongest in Africa at independence from Britain 26 years ago.

        Mugabe denies the charge blaming the crisis on sabotage by Britain and her allies after he seized white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks six years ago.

        The Harare authorities recently hiked salaries for civil servants, with the lowest-paid soldier now earning about Z$27-million while the lowest-paid school teacher now takes home about Z$33-million.

        But the salaries are still way below the poverty datum line, which the government's Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says now stands at a staggering Z$42-million a month for an average family of six.

        The Zimbabwe government often accuses the ZCTU, a strong ally of the MDC, of pushing a political agenda to remove Mugabe from power.

        Meanwhile, Matombo and Lucia Matibenga retained their posts as president and first vice-president respectively during the ZCTU congress that ended on Saturday. -- ZimOnline

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