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  • Christine Chumbler
    Farmers halt Malawi tobacco sales Angry farmers in Malawi have shut down the country s economically important tobacco markets because of the low prices being
    Message 1 of 1046 , May 7, 2003
      Farmers halt Malawi tobacco sales

      Angry farmers in Malawi have shut down the country's economically
      important tobacco markets because of the low prices being offered for
      this year's crop.

      Before the sales started farmers had hoped for about $2 per kilogramme
      of tobacco, but buyers have been offering less than half that, said
      George Mituka of the Tobacco Association of Malawi.

      "Farmers have started bringing to auction floors high quality tobacco
      and therefore should attract better prices," Mr Mituka said.

      Tobacco accounts for about 75% of the southern African country's
      foreign currency earnings.

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

      Covering costs

      The farmers and buyers have been locked in talks to restart the sales.

      The low prices being offered means farmers would not be able to pay off
      loans taken to produce the tobacco leaf, but the stoppage brings with it
      extra storage and security costs.

      Tobacco accounts for over 60% of Malawi's total exports, employs about
      80% of the workforce and contributes 10% of the gross domestic product.

      Malawi is in the second year of recession due to a freeze of donor
      aid.

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

      *****

      Tourists Drown, Are Trampled in Park

      African Eye News Service (Nelspruit)

      May 6, 2003
      Posted to the web May 6, 2003

      Hobbs Gama
      Blantyre

      Malawi tourism authorities are investigating the death of a British
      doctor who was trampled to death last Friday by an irate elephant at
      Liwonde National Park.

      The incident happened only a day after six tourists drowned when a boat
      capsized on the Shire River on the way to Liwonde park.

      Dr Pauline Strattone, 46, was staying with six other tourists at
      Chingoni Hills Lodge when the elephant trampled her while they were game
      viewing.

      Dr Strattone was a volunteer at the country's largest referral
      hospital, Queen Elizabeth central hospital.

      Police commissioner for the eastern region Hudson Nyirenda said the
      visitors were not escorted by park guards at the time, as the guards
      were involved in searching for more victims of the boat disaster.

      Meanwhile six bodies were recovered following the boating accident.
      They were recovered following an intensive search by parks and wildlife
      personnel, an army helicopter and local fishermen in canoes.

      The boat was heading towards Mvu Camp, a cultural village in Liwonde
      park, when it capsized.

      Among the dead was housing minister Kaliyoma Phumisa's daughter,
      Reubina.

      *****

      Mounting pressure on Mugabe
      Johannesburg
      07 May 2003 14:31
      Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says it will
      launch a mass action campaign to demonstrate the people's "displeasure"
      with the government of President Robert Mugabe.

      MDC representative Paul Themba Nyathi said on Tuesday the protest
      action would begin within the next two weeks, "might last longer" than a
      two-day stay away held in March, and involve demonstrations.

      Following an inconclusive visit on Monday by three senior African
      presidents trying to open a dialogue between Mugabe and MDC leader
      Morgan Tsvangirai, Nyathi said "our premise was talks can only yield
      something if further pressure is brought to bear on Mugabe".

      Mugabe demanded recognition as Zimbabwe's legitimately elected leader
      by the opposition before engaging in talks on resolving the country's
      crisis. He said the MDC would have to drop its court challenge to the
      results of last year's controversial presidential election in which
      Mugabe was declared the winner.

      "I am the president of the country, I have legitimacy which the MDC
      doesn't recognise," Mugabe said.

      "Does the MDC now say they recognise me? That is the issue. If they do,
      that means the MDC court action has to be withdrawn and we can start
      talks."

      Nyathi said the MDC had rejected Mugabe's conditions for talks.

      "The three presidents who came here, if they had any doubts on Mugabe's
      destructive rule, now have no doubts," Nyathi commented.

      "All he does is be a spoiler, but at the moment his back is against the
      wall. He's not as important a factor as he claims to be."

      Presidents Bakili Muluzi of Malawi, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and
      Thabo Mbeki of South Africa held separate talks in Harare with Mugabe
      and Tsvangirai, to encourage them to restart a dialogue process which
      collapsed last May because of the MDC's court challenge.

      Obasanjo told journalists that the three visiting leaders were
      "delighted" Mugabe and his government were "very anxious" for
      negotiations.

      "There is a little point [the MDC's court challenge] which we can work
      out. We will work on it as quickly as possible."

      Muluzi said after Monday's deadlock that he was asked by Mbeki and
      Obasanjo to hold further talks with Tsvangirai "very soon".

      In the meantime, Commonwealth members Australia and Britain are calling
      for "maximum international pressure" to be maintained on Mugabe's
      government to restore democracy and human rights.

      Speaking following a meeting in London with Australian Prime Minister
      John Howard, Blair said: "The situation in Zimbabwe remains a very
      serious situation indeed. There has not been real progress there at all,
      in our view."

      Blair referred to a lack of proper democracy and adherence to human
      rights and to "the appalling humanitarian situation that has been
      exacerbated by the political situation".

      Howard said there was "no question" of Zimbabwe's suspension from the
      councils of the Commonwealth being lifted unless the country returned to
      democracy.

      "Even more importantly than that, the suffering of the people, both
      black and white, in Zimbabwe is not only distressing but inexcusable and
      appalling and a terrible indictment of someone who has lost any pretence
      of governing for the welfare of the people of that country," he added.

      International Development Secretary for Britain Clare Short, later on
      Wednesday added that she believes Mugabe is likely to lose power soon.

      "My instinct is the end is coming." * Sapa

      *****

      Zim 'falsehood' law struck down
      Harare
      07 May 2003 12:27
      The Supreme Court in Zimbabwe on Wednesday struck out a section of a
      controversial media law that makes it an offence for a journalist to
      publish falsehoods, declaring it unconstitutional.

      The decision was made after two journalists accused of publishing false
      information challenged the constitutionality of the law enacted after
      President Robert Mugabe was re-elected in March last year.

      The state conceded that the section of law which refers to publishing
      of falsehoods was unconstitutional and the court made a ruling within
      minutes of the session opening.

      "It is hereby declared to be ultra vires section 20 (1) of the
      constitution and is therefore struck down and is of no force or effect,"
      said chief justice Godfrey Chidyausiku.

      Two Zimbabwean journalists, Geoffrey Nyarota and Lloyd Mudiwa, were
      last year accused of abusing their journalistic privileges by publishing
      false information after the newspaper they work for broke a story
      alleging that pro-government militias had beheaded a woman in front of
      her children.

      Charges were brought against Nyarota, an award-winning former editor of
      the Daily News, and Mudiwa, a reporter on the paper, Zimbabwe's only
      independent daily, because the story was subsequently shown to be
      false.

      The paper later retracted the story and offered an apology when it was
      established that the main source of the story, a man claiming to be the
      dead woman's husband, had fabricated the incident.

      The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) was
      signed into law by President Robert Mugabe last year just after his
      re-election in March 2002.

      The controversial law has already been challenged in court by several
      different groups of journalists, including the foreign correspondents
      association.

      Early this year Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said the government
      was amending the controversial media law in bid to 'rationalise' it.

      "We are amending because we realise at the time we enacted it the
      temperatures were very high, but when the storm has gone you sit back
      and rationalise and we are sitting back to rationalise because the storm
      is gone," Moyo said.

      He added that it was necessary at the time to introduce such tough laws
      "to send a very clear and unequivocal message and we believe it has
      (been sent)". - Sapa-AFP
    • 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

        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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