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    Peace Corps Can Help Combat Aids - US Ambassador The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe) May 5, 2003 Posted to the web May 5, 2003 Jacob Jimu Lilongwe The United
    Message 1 of 1046 , May 6, 2003
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      Peace Corps Can Help Combat Aids - US Ambassador

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      May 5, 2003
      Posted to the web May 5, 2003

      Jacob Jimu
      Lilongwe

      The United States says Peace Corps Volunteers in Malawi can greatlly
      contribute to the fight against HIV/AIDS by helping to dispel
      misconceptions about the scourge.

      The US ambassador to Malawi, Roger Meece said this at Capital Hotel on
      Friday last week during the swearing-in ceremony of 15 Peace Corps
      trainees who completed their nine-week training in the field of
      environmental management.

      'To control HIV/AIDS, it is important for people to overcome stigma, to
      understand how the disease is spread, the critical importance of
      abstinence and faithfulness in a relationship and the use of condoms.'
      He encouraged the new Peace Corps adding: 'As role models in your
      communities, you can do much to dispel misconceptions about HIV .....
      your influence on your friends to practice safe behaviour can help keep
      them HIV negative and that's a very important role for you all to play,'
      said Meece.

      Meece said the fight against HIV/AIDS can be successful if all sectors
      of society are involved.

      'HIV/AIDS is killing too many Malawians .... it is critical to bring
      down the infection rate and get this problem under control. It can be
      done,' remarked Meece.

      The Peace Corps programme began in Malawi in 1963. The volunteers work
      in the areas of health, education, environment and in helping
      organizations during crisis situations.

      *****

      Church Questions Role of Security Agents in Polls Watch

      African Church Information Service

      May 5, 2003
      Posted to the web May 5, 2003

      Hobbs Gama
      Blantyre

      The Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) has accused the
      country's elections monitoring body for including state security agents
      in its membership, saying the move was intimidating voters.

      CCAP's Church and Society Programme office also attacked the Electoral
      Commission (EC) for accepting the army, police and the National
      Intelligence Unit (NIB) as members of the National Elections Forum, a
      local coalition of various interest groups to monitor next year's
      parliamentary and presidential elections.

      Robson Chitengo, the Church's programme manager observes that the
      inclusion of the state branches, was a way to intimidate opposition
      supporters ahead of the 2004 polls. He urged for their removal to pave
      way for free and fair elections. "We are very concerned about their
      presence," said Chitengo.

      He recalled that a similar arrangement marred elections monitoring in
      some Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries.

      "We note that during the last Zimbabwean presidential and parliamentary
      elections, government security forces even forced voters on queues to
      cast (their votes) in the ruling party's favour. We would not like that
      to happen in Malawi's poll," noted Chitengo.

      The NIB and Young Democrats (YDs), a youth wing of the ruling United
      Democratic Front (UDF) of President Bakili Muluzi, have been terrorising
      opposition supporters. Cases of YDs disrupting opposition rallies have
      been reported.

      Meanwhile, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) seeking accreditation
      for voter education campaign have lodged a joint complaint with the
      Electoral Commission. They claim the registration fee is too high,
      saying it was a ploy to deny smaller NGOs a chance to take part in civic
      education.

      But the commission's spokesman, Fergus Lipenga, has waved aside the
      accusation, saying there was no intention to discriminate any interested
      NGOs. According to him, the fee increase from K10,000 (US $ 117) to
      K30,000 (US $ 350) was modest.

      "The fee is aimed at identifying those organisations that are really
      serious in ensuring successful elections," Lipenga is reported to have
      said.

      Voter registration will commence in September, which critics say would
      be too late.

      Recently, the Pan African Civic Educators Network (PACENET), Malawi
      Chapter, expressed concern over the belated voter preparations. PACENET
      is a pan-African network that promotes fair and regular elections in
      Africa.

      It echoed the caution by other players that Malawi could face similar
      registration and voter irregularities, like it happened in the second
      (1999) multiparty elections, when voting and registration materials did
      not reach most rural parts.

      PACENET chair, Rev David Faiti, urged the NGOs to consolidate their
      activities, saying a poorly organised process would defeat their goal of
      promoting human rights and democracy in Malawi.

      "Your advocacy must include grooming of foresighted leaders so that the
      citizens have a better future," said Rev Faiti, at a recent PACENET
      workshop for Malawi.

      *****

      Muluzi Angers Women's Groups

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      May 5, 2003
      Posted to the web May 5, 2003

      Wezie Nyirongo
      Lilongwe

      Women's civil society groups have reacted angrily to President Muluzi
      remarks saying that he is undressing women and perpetrating violence
      against all women in the country which is a violation of human rights
      and an indication that the president has no respect for women in
      Malawi.

      Muluzi has, on several occasions in his public rallies made very
      pointed and derogatory remarks about women with a recent gaff when he
      attacked the recently resigned vice president Aleke Banda about the
      establishment of the United Democratic Front (UDF) party. He likened
      attempts by Banda who claimed to be a founder member of the UDF to a man
      asking for marriage to a woman from the next village only to find that
      some other man had 'poured his water' six months ahead of the birth of
      the baby. These remarks have provoked and incensed most women in various
      sectors who have now called upon Muluzi to refrain from using abusive
      and demeaning words about women in public. He then went on to describe
      the under garments of women.

      Civil Liberties Committee (CILIC) Executive Director Emmie Chanika said
      it is most shocking for the Head of State to castigate women like he
      does at a public function where he is spending million of kwachas of tax
      payers money and donor funds in the presence of the first lady, Patricia
      Shanil Muluzi and representatives from the religious community,
      including Muslim clerics.

      'I get shocked every day when the whole president starts making such
      remarks at a public function. What do his own children, wife and Sheikh
      think of him when he is mentioning women's underwear in public,' said
      Chanika adding that Muluzi should start censoring himself before
      producing a word from his mouth or else he will now be taken as a savage
      and a fool with a loose, uncontrollable mouth.

      'In a normal democracy, if the Head of State is making abusive remarks
      in that way it means he is mentally ill. Muluzi must be reminded that
      each and every function he is holding he is using tax payer's money and
      I don't think his advisors are wise enough to educate him on how and
      what to talk about in public,' she added.

      Chanika also threatened that if Muluzi continues to castigate women in
      this manner they would take the drastic step to seek a conviction for
      the first lady, Shanil Muluzi for attempting suicide when she took
      poison because of family misunderstanding between herself and her
      husband.

      'We were very lenient with our fellow woman, the first lady Shanil
      Muluzi when she took poison in order to kill herself because we thought
      the president will be embarrassed. She could have been in jail at the
      moment and we respected her as we respect the president.' Society for
      the Advancement of Women (SAW) Executive Director Catherine Munthali
      told The Chronicle that Muluzi should be reminded that he had been
      inaugurating many women forums like the 16 Days of Activism on Violence
      Against Women and that should not be taken for granted. She stated that
      he must be in the forefront in respecting women's rights in the
      country.

      'We have never heard a Head of State insulting and talking about
      undressing women. This is an indication that Muluzi has no respect for
      women in Malawi because if the Head of State can talk about undressing
      women it means he is creating a gap between men and women and women
      cannot ever be empowered with this attitude,' said Munthali.

      She said Muluzi's remarks portrays a bad image of women and sends a
      very bad message to his successors that women should not be supported
      because they can be undressed, even in public.

      National Women's Lobby and Rights Group Executive Director Faustace
      Chirwa said the president's remarks are not only offending but
      offensive, bearing in mind that he makes the remarks in the presence of
      his wife, the first lady Shanil Muluzi.

      'That's the first lady's duty to advise the president on what to speak
      in public about women so that the president should uphold women's rights
      in the country. She should check on what joke is acceptable for the
      president to make in public and what is in poor taste. Otherwise he
      should refrain from making jokes which could influence violence on women
      and discourage them from participating in political activity,' said
      Chirwa.

      The president's Press Secretary Willie Zingani could not be reached for
      comment on the threat imposed by Women Groups that they would convict
      First Lady Shanil Muluzi for the suicide attempt which happened last
      year.

      *****

      Gov't Warns Hospital Staff Over Frequent Drug Swindling

      African Church Information Service

      May 5, 2003
      Posted to the web May 5, 2003

      Hobbs Gama
      Blantyre

      Senior health officials in Malawi have issued stern warning to
      personnel in public institutions against thefts of drugs. The trend has
      led to shortage of essential medicines, making patients die of treatable
      ailments.

      Frequent disappearances of large quantities of drugs and hospital
      equipment, which staff steal and sell to private clinics or street
      vendors, have been reported in recent years.

      Despite increase in government's annual health budget from US$ 6
      million to US$ 9 million in the past two years, drugs have always been
      in short supply, with patients being turned back without receiving even
      basic medicines like Fansidar SP, used to treat malaria.

      Dr Habib Somanje, director of preventive health services in the
      Ministry of Health and Population, has blamed unscrupulous hospital
      workers for frustrating government's efforts.

      "We are putting in place strict measures to check the malpractice, and
      we request members of the public to report any thefts because the
      medicines belongs to them," charged Somanje.

      He was speaking at the launch of various activities marking Africa
      Malaria Day on April 25.

      Previous attempts to curb drug pilferage from public institutions,
      included swoops by authorities, on suspected private clinics and market
      vendors. But the thefts still continued.

      Health authorities then mounted a campaign to educate the public on the
      dangers of buying TB, malaria and other drugs from unauthorised
      dealers.

      But due to widespread poverty, many patients still flock vendors for
      cheap drugs, putting their health at risk.

      Critics cite low wages in government institutions and absence of
      incentives as reasons for the drug thefts. Malawi is currently losing a
      lot of qualified nurses to Western countries, notably the UK and USA,
      where terms of service are considered better.

      Street vendors do not seem perturbed by the problem, as confirms Shaibu
      Zakaria, a vendor in the commercial city of Blantyre.

      "Why can't they leave us alone. They should deal with the hospitals if
      that is where the drugs come from," said Zakaria.

      *****

      Kenya And Malawi Farmers Root for a Common Market

      The East African Standard (Nairobi)

      May 2, 2003
      Posted to the web May 5, 2003

      John Muganda
      Nairobi

      Farmers from Kenya and Malawi are to establish a common market for
      their produce in a programme sponsored by the US Foundation.

      Officials of the Malawi Farmers' Association are in the country to
      carry out a survey with a view to importing cassava, the country's
      staple food.

      Led by Professor Kanyama Phiri, the farmers have established a link
      between the Initiative for Development and Equity in African Agriculture
      and the Kenya Agricultural Commodities Exchange (KACE), through which to
      quote market prices for various products.

      The delegation is in Bungoma District and has so far visited various
      markets including Chwele, Kamukuywa and Miyanga to assess the market
      prices of food crops grown in the area.

      KACE Bungoma branch Chief Executive, Albert Wesonga, said the district
      had been chosen by the Rock-feller Foundation of USA as a pilot area for
      a commodities exchange study in East and Central Africa.

      He said with improved information technology, farmers in the region
      would be able to communicate to each other daily to establish products
      on high demand and their respective prices.

      Wesonga said a similar delegation was expected in the country from Cote
      de Voire to study the existing market structure.

      The officer noted that lack of markets for agricultural products was
      fuelling poverty in rural areas and expressed the need to explore
      foreign markets.

      Wesonga said information centres had been established at main markets
      in the district with mobile phones for quick comparisons of price
      changes.

      *****

      Censorship Board Warns Video Cassette Lenders

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      May 5, 2003
      Posted to the web May 5, 2003

      Jacob Jimu
      Lilongwe

      The Censorship Board (CB) has issued a stern warning to people involved
      in video cassette libraries that they risk having their shops closed and
      tapes confiscated if they do not acquire an operating license.

      The board's Senior Technical Assistant, John Suluma told The Chronicle
      in a telephone interview that it is a criminal offence to open such a
      business without securing a license from the board first.

      'Besides paying a licensing fee of K3,000 per year, rental agencies are
      also supposed to pay a censoring fee of K20 per tape. The censoring fee
      is paid in order that the board ascertains that the tape is free of
      banned material,' said Suluma.

      He added that after satisfying these requirements, a board's sticker is
      affixed to the tape to indicate the age criteria of the people who can
      watch the tape.

      'The library also receives a General Receipt as an indication that they
      have satisfied the overall requirements of the board to conduct such a
      business', added Suluma.

      However, a video cassette lender at Area 25 market in Lilongwe, Burton
      Ntepa, whose 60 tapes were confiscated by the CB for not paying the
      licensing and censoring fees told The Chronicle that the board has not
      done enough to sensitise the traders on the requirements.

      'All I know is that we are supposed to get a license from the City
      Council and not the Censorship Board ..... these people (CB officials)
      just stormed into my shop in November last year and started sweeping
      tapes off the shelves demanding that I pay K12,000, without giving me
      any reasons. It is very unfair,' fumed Ntepa.

      Ntepa also alleged that the CB officials did not issue him a receipt
      after he had paid a down payment of K3,000 for licenses. However, Suluma
      dismissed the accusation.

      CB's censoring officer for Publication and Entertainment, Humphrey
      Mpondaminga conceded that the board has not conducted sufficient civic
      education on this issue due to financial constraints: 'Given the little
      resources we have, we have tried to conduct civic education to let
      people know what is required of them,' he said adding, 'in any case
      before people start business, they should try to find out what is
      required of them from those who have been in the business'.

      *****

      HIV Contributing to Low Birthweight

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      May 5, 2003
      Posted to the web May 5, 2003

      Pushpa Jamieson - the Chronicle, Malawi
      Lilongwe

      Grandmother (Gogo) Nagama lies on the bed with her daughter's newborn
      baby slapped to her chest.

      The baby is one week old and underweight. In order to help the baby
      gain weigh naturally, Gogo has to carry the baby like a kangaroo mother
      to help provide warmth and protection for the infant.

      Gogo Nagama has to take care of the baby in this way because her
      daughter is admitted in another ward and much too sick to take care of
      the baby herself.

      Gogo Nagama is just one of many grandmothers who are taking care of
      newborn babies because the mother is too sick to do so herself. In some
      instances, grandmothers have to take over the breast-feeding of the
      baby.

      The problem of low birth weight infants has become a cause for concern
      in the light of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Rosemary Nyirenda, who is
      responsible for the training of Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) at Zomba
      Central Hospital confirmed that since the HIV/AIDS epidemic, there is
      concern on the number of babies that are born weighing under 250g.
      'There has been a significant increase in the number of low birth-weight
      infants and this is a real cause for concern'. Nyirenda says if a
      pregnant woman knows she is HIV positive, the medial staff know how to
      treat the baby. 'Often we see that the baby does not breast-feed or
      respond to medication, a situation that often impacts on the mortality
      rate in the country.' The KMC unit in Zomba is embarking on a programme
      in connection with the District Health Officer in the area to provide
      information on Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) and the
      benefits.

      The number of low birth-weight infants is high in women who are HIV
      positive because the body of the pregnant woman uses all the nutrition
      it has in order to fight infections. This removes nutrition that the
      baby needs in order to grow well during pregnancy and increase the
      chances of the baby's survival when born.

      Save the Children US programme 'Saving Newborn Lives' in the 2002
      report for the State of the world's Newborns in Malawi said between the
      years 1995 and 1999, 20% of the babies were born with a low birth
      weight.

      The number of women who have been involved in the VCT programme is
      growing and many women have seen the benefit of knowing their status.

      Gloria also has a baby that was born under weight and is using KMC to
      help her baby gain weight said: 'I want to know if I am positive because
      then I can make sure that I can do what ever is possible in order to
      make sure that my baby is protected.' ' I think I will go for testing
      before I leave the hospital to go home.' she said.

      According to the UNAIDS Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic for the
      year 2002, 25.7% of the pregnant women who attend antenatal clinic in
      the urban areas and have participated in VCT are HIV positive.

      It has been estimated that over 23% of the pregnant women in Malawi are
      carrying the virus which causes AIDS.

      The prevalence of HIV infections is greater in the urban areas than the
      rural areas.

      *****

      Women Demand Full Participation

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      May 5, 2003
      Posted to the web May 5, 2003

      Wezie Nyirongo
      Lilongwe

      The Vice Chairperson for Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) Gender
      Co-ordination Network Emma Kaliya says it is disappointing to note that
      while Malawi as a nation has preached about the 30 percent inclusion of
      women by 2005, during the recent cabinet reshuffle, the opposite has
      happened.

      Kaliya said the percentage of female Ministers has dropped from 24
      percent to 17 percent due to the new appointments which have only
      targeted men while most appointed female ministers have been deputised.

      'It is disappointing to note that while Malawi as a nation has gone
      flat out to preach about the 30 percent inclusion of women by 2005
      during the recent cabinet reshuffle, the opposite has happened, the
      percentage of female ministers has sadly dropped from 24 percent to 17
      percent due to the new appointments which have only targeted men, who
      had not served in the cabinet before,' said Kaliya recently at a Women
      Empowerment and Decision Making position workshop in Lilongwe.

      She also said women need security in their homes because domestic
      violence is often shrouded by silence and there is need to promote
      gender justice by monitoring, reporting and providing remedies for
      violations of women's rights.

      'While a strong Women's Ministry is vital to make sure that commitments
      are honoured, good governance must also receive priority so that women's
      perspective and leadership be included within other ministries and
      outside government,' she added.

      Kaliya also stressed that women need economic security and need to be
      employed and paid decent wages after citing an example of a research
      carried out in Mtandire location in Lilongwe under the TB Equity Project
      which showed that women pay more than men to access health care.

      In order to curb HIV, she said measures must be taken to address the
      act that women are biologically, economically and culturally more
      vulnerable to contracting the virus than men, and women should be given
      the right and power to refuse unwanted and unprotected sex.

      Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) Executive Director Emeliana Tembo
      encouraged women who are aspiring to top positions to take centre stage
      in upgrading themselves in a good manner and not earn positions on a
      silver platter just because they are women.

      'Women aspirants should endeavour to upgrading themselves in a good
      manner and not earn positions in a silver platter because they are
      women,' said Tembo adding that although Chapter 4 in the Malawian
      Constitution enshrines gender equality, gender imbalances are in most
      areas especially work places in the country.

      *****

      Lilongwe Technical College Reopens Without Final Year Students

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      May 5, 2003
      Posted to the web May 5, 2003

      Stonald Kuphunda Unima Media Student
      Lilongwe

      Lilongwe Technical college reopened on 22 April 2003 without the 4th
      Year final students because of alleged misbehaviour by the students, The
      Chronicle has learnt.

      According to a press release issued recently in the local media, the
      college in conjunction with the Ministry of Labour and Vocational
      Training and with Teveta asked students to re-apply for their places
      should they wish to be re-admitted.

      A source at the college, a final year student in Mechanical Engineering
      [general fitting] said that the last schools' academic term students
      caused havoc asking the administration of the college to give them
      [students] money which the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training
      through Teveta normally gives to them every term to purchase different
      equipment.

      Students, it is understood received tools after the intervention of the
      Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and Teveta.

      'I think that's why the college wants to axe some of the students who
      were ring leaders of the pressure group that forced the college to give
      us equipment which facilitated our learning,' said the source adding
      that students received tools after the intervention of the Ministry and
      Teveta.

      He also said he is worried about the future of the final year students
      of the college whom he said have responsibilities in their families.

      *****

      Troika urges Mugabe to negotiate
      06 May 2003 07:38
      In a move hailed as the first step towards solving Zimbabwe's deepening
      crisis, President Robert Mugabe came under concerted pressure from three
      African leaders to begin negotiations with the opposition party, the
      Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

      Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria
      and Bakili Muluzi of Malawi met Mugabe for two hours yesterday to
      encourage his ruling Zanu-PF party to hold talks with the MDC.

      After meeting Mr Mugabe, the leaders met the MDC leader, Morgan
      Tsvangirai, for 90 minutes. "The three presidents agreed with me that
      Zimbabwe is in a dire state," said Mr Tsvangirai. "We agreed that we
      have to work out a solution. The fundamental issue is that the MDC and
      Zanu-PF must get down and talk."

      The inter-party negotiations would aim to establish a transitional
      period in which Mugabe would retire and an interim government including
      both parties would be installed to pave the way for new, free and fair
      elections according to international standards, say African diplomats
      close to the talks.

      However, Mugabe has not welcomed the pressure from his fellow African
      leaders. The state-owned Sunday Mail newspaper questioned whether the
      presidents were coming "as African brothers or as agents of the British
      government".

      Speaking after the talks, Obasanjo said: "It appears as if this country
      is sitting on a keg of gunpowder. That might be an exaggeration, but
      things are definitely bad."

      Mugabe stuck to his demand that before any talks the MDC had to drop
      its legal challenge to his 2002 re-election, which the Commonwealth
      dismissed as rigged.

      "The MDC said they don't recognise me alongside the British, the
      Americans and the Europeans. Does the MDC now say they recognise me?
      That is the issue," he told reporters. "If they do, well, that means
      that the action now in court has to be withdrawn and we start talking."

      Tsvangirai has stated that the MDC is not willing to abandon its case.
      The court case, alleging widespread state-sponsored violence and
      vote-rigging, is the opposition party's only legal recourse.

      Tsvangirai has put forward his own conditions to the inter-party talks.
      He said that all state-sponsored violence and torture against MDC
      supporters must stop and that the repressive Public Order and Security
      Act and the anti-press laws must be repealed.

      "It may be a halting step but this is none the less the first step in
      the movement towards a democratic government," said Iden Wetherell, the
      editor of the Zimbabwe Independent. "It may be a protracted and messy
      process, but it has now begun. The visit of the three leaders represents
      a significant chink in the hitherto solid armour of African solidarity
      protecting Mugabe."

      John Makumbe, the chairman of the Zimbabwe in Crisis Coalition, was
      cautious. "I believe Mugabe has a few more tricks left up his sleeve,"
      he said. "The process has begun but I fear there will be... more blood
      spilled before Mugabe actually steps down."

      The visiting leaders were welcomed by about 300 female MDC supporters
      who gathered in the centre of the capital, Harare. Jubilantly singing
      and dancing, they waved placards saying: "Please advise Mugabe to step
      down", "Tell Mugabe to go now" and "Women are being tortured".

      Armed police charged the crowd and dragged away about 10 women,
      including some with babies. But the action did not dampen the
      protesters' spirits. "They can arrest us, but they cannot stop us," said
      one woman after fleeing police. - Guardian Unlimited © Guardian
      Newspapers Limited 2003

      *****

      Lions spark deadly witch hunt in Mozambique
      Maputo
      06 May 2003 07:54
      Angry villagers in Mozambique have killed a dozen people suspected of
      being witches after a killing spree by man-eating lions, police said on
      Monday.

      A police representative told Radio Mozambique lions had devoured 20
      victims, including women, in northern Cabo Delgado province over the
      past four months.

      Villagers, who believe the lions to be witches who have taken on the
      form of the carnivores, have attacked and killed 12 people in the area,
      he said.

      "Twelve suspected witches were beaten to death by angry relatives (of
      the dead)," the official said.

      No arrests had been made, but there were plans to hunt down the
      man-eating lions.

      Belief in witchcraft is prevalent in central and northern Mozambique,
      which is marked by high rates of illiteracy. There are also many
      reported casualties from animal attacks in wild, remote areas.

      So far this year, 22 people have been reportedly killed in crocodile
      attacks in the central Mozambique province of Tete. Many local people
      also believe these attacks to be the work of witches. - Sapa-AFP

      *****

      Dirty needles blamed for child HIV

      Children in South Africa are being infected with HIV through dirty
      needles, experts have claimed.

      Researchers have suggested hundreds of thousands of children may have
      contracted the virus in this way.

      The study is the latest to point to contaminated needles as a major
      cause of HIV in Africa.

      Some researchers believe as many as 40% of HIV infections in African
      adults are linked to injections.

      United Nations agencies have rejected this theory, saying most cases
      are linked to unsafe sex.

      Officials have also warned that the theory could damage campaigns to
      get people in Africa to use condoms to protect themselves from the
      disease.

      High rates

      This latest research looked at a study carried out by the Human
      Sciences Research Council of South Africa, published last year.

      It revealed that 5.6% of South African children between the ages of two
      and 14 have HIV. This represents 670,000 children.

      However, figures for mother-to-baby transmission - believed to be the
      main cause of HIV in children - are substantially lower.

      This suggests children are contracting the virus in another way.

      Researchers from the University of Tübingen in Germany said the
      findings indicated contaminated needles were to blame.

      They rejected claims that children could have contracted HIV through
      unsafe sex or as a result of abuse.

      Writing in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, they said: "For
      hundreds of thousands of South African children to have acquired HIV
      sexually, inordinately high levels of childhood sexual exposure would be
      required, a phenomenon unlikely to have been overlooked by
      paediatricians. Recent reports from South Africa discourage this
      hypotheses."

      The researchers also examined other studies. They said these also
      showed differences between HIV rates in children and the number of
      mother-to-child transmissions.

      'Mounting evidence'

      They said the findings showed unsafe sex was no longer the main cause
      of HIV in Africa.

      "The common belief that HIV transmission in Africa is driven by
      heterosexual exposure is no longer tenable," they wrote.

      "There is mounting evidence that rapid HIV transmission is fuelled by
      parenteral exposures in health care settings, especially medical
      injections but also including transfusion of untested blood and others.

      "Not only are injections popular among African patients, administered
      at an estimated 90% of medical visits, but also often unnecessary and
      injection equipment is often used."

      The researchers said urgent action is needed to improve standards in
      South African clinics.

      "They must educate their patients in the dangers of non-sterile
      injections and ensure that their own practices are beyond reproach."a
      do

      They said the findings could also be applied to other countries on the
      continent.

      "We must protect patients from their own medical care system in all
      countries with similar epidemiological characteristics."

      Claims rejected

      South Africa has the largest HIV population in the world - one in five
      people are infected.

      However, the South African government rejected claims children were
      contracting HIV through dirty needles.

      Dr Nono Simelela, head of its national HIV and Aids programme, told BBC
      News Online: "I have worked in clinics and hospitals in various part of
      our country - including some that were really poorly equipped.

      "But nowhere have I seen practices that would make me conclude that
      dirty needles are the most probable explanation for this surprising rate
      of HIV-infection in children. And I am confident my doubts would be
      shared by many other clinicians.

      "I believe the matter needs to be much more closely interrogated before
      we form conclusions about the cause."
    • 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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