Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

news

Expand Messages
  • Christine Chumbler
    Southern Africa drought ending By Martin Plaut BBC News The first authoritative report has been published indicating that the Southern African drought is
    Message 1 of 1046 , May 19, 2003
    • 0 Attachment
      Southern Africa drought 'ending'
      By Martin Plaut
      BBC News

      The first authoritative report has been published indicating that the
      Southern African drought is coming to an end.

      A report prepared for the region's ministers predicts that this year's
      crops will be 6% above last year's, when harvests were devastated and
      millions needed feeding.

      Southern Africa's staple crops have still not been harvested, but the
      prospects are looking good.

      This is in stark contrast to last year, when the crop was so low, in
      countries from Lesotho to Malawi, that vast quantities of grain had to
      be shipped in.

      By March this year more than 10 million people were reliant on outside
      aid.

      "We managed to avert a catastrophe," said a spokesman for the World
      Food Programme in Johannesburg, Richard Lee.

      Brighter future

      But even this year the outlook is patchy; the Zambian harvest should be
      up by over 50% but parts of southern Mozambique will face their third
      year of hardship.

      In Zimbabwe the crop should be better than last year but so little land
      was planted because of farm evictions that the harvest will still be way
      below average.

      Despite these reservations there is no doubt that the future is looking
      considerably brighter across much of southern Africa.

      *****

      Diary of an aid worker

      By Anita Payne
      Malawi

      Tearfund aid worker Anita Payne writes about her experiences in Malawi
      as she works with local churches assisting people coping with floods
      following a major drought.

      May 2003

      The Nissan swerves and skids as I fight to control the one tonne
      vehicle on a track, riven with deep gullies, filled with water and thick
      clinging red mud. At least the four-wheel drive is keeping us on the
      track.

      I slow down when passing villagers on their way to market, terrified
      that I might skid into the mothers and children.

      I smile to myself and think that this is not what most Grandmas do for
      a living and try to picture myself living a quiet life back home in
      England.

      I'm on my way to remote villages around Khosolo to see how the maize
      seeds we donated last October are faring.

      Our visits last October showed us that 70% of the villagers did not
      have any maize seed to plant so the churches provided bags of seed and
      fertiliser.

      I'm now returning to our field sites around the country to assess the
      crop yields. Some parts of Malawi are expecting better harvests than
      last year and will have enough to see them through the year.

      Others were hit by drought or floods in January and February. Some lost
      all their maize, whilst others will have a very small crop.

      End of distributions

      Many of the people I meet are affected by HIV/Aids, either ill
      themselves or caring for others. Some are too weak to work in their
      fields.

      UN food distributions, in which we have been involved, are finishing
      this month as harvest times nears.

      We have to assess the level of continuing need and what action we will
      take in the coming months.

      Certainly a major disaster has been averted, famine halted and lives
      saved.

      An 'Ethiopia' has been prevented. We haven't been forced to see
      agonising pictures of dying children and adults.

      We are quietly glad to have played a very small part in what has been a
      major logistical achievement, feeding more than three million people -
      almost a third of Malawi's population.

      However, with unfavourable global trade opportunities, the grinding
      poverty, lack of investment in agriculture and the HIV/Aids epidemic
      affecting 16% of the population, we are still facing an uncertain
      future.

      We slither down a steep hill and I see the narrow bridge of tree trunks
      down in the valley ahead of me with some trepidation. The steep track on
      the other side of the bridge looks even worse, cut by even deeper
      gullies.

      I decide that discretion is the better part of valour and the time has
      come for the expert to take over.

      I stop before the bridge and hand over the wheel to Dingi, one of our
      Malawi Programme Officers.

      We crawl over the bridge with a few inches to spare either side.

      Stuck

      The bridge sinks under our weight, but we just about make it across. We
      start on the steep climb but this time we don't make it.

      Our vehicle slithers irresistibly into a deep gully. Local farmers, off
      hunting small game with their dogs stop to help us.

      Out come the panga knives and the towing ropes.

      The men are busy cutting down branches to put under the wheels, cutting
      away the edges of the gullies, whilst Wezi, Hannah and I tie the ropes
      on firmly to the front rails.

      I try and remember by knots from my days as a Brownie!

      Two hours later a cheer goes up as 15 of us push and pull the vehicle
      out. Congratulations all round!

      The dogs perk up, ready to resume their hunting trip. We thank our
      rescuers and give them a gift. Dingi turns the vehicle round.

      We pray hard as he retraces the route, down the steep defile, across
      the bridge to relative safety.

      The bridge starts to give way and he urges the Nissan over, just in
      time. We survey each other, spattered with mud and wet from the rain.

      We look a sorry sight. We leave the vehicle, grab some water bottles,
      biscuits and umbrellas and start off on foot to reach the next village
      to start our day's work.

      Village checks

      We sit together with the women under the welcome shade of the tree. The
      goats wander past and eye the water buckets at the village pump. The men
      sit together by the shady tree nursery, checking the water committee's
      accounts with our Programme Officer, Limbi.

      The borehole we sank last year is working well, no cholera deaths this
      year, not even one case identified.

      The village water committee have been charging 100 kwacha per year for
      the use of the water (less than $1.50).

      They have collected several thousand kwacha; saving it in a tin, ready
      to purchase any spare parts that might be needed.

      The harvest in this region has been poor due to both drought and
      flood.

      Some villagers here believe that the floods represent the angered
      ancestors, sending a snake (flood water) to warn the villagers of their
      wrongdoing.

      Most believe that they have eroded their riverbanks by intensive
      farming and so they started the tree nursery.

      All the saplings have now been transplanted along the nearby banks, to
      help bind the soil. The nursery, corralled against the omnivorous goats,
      now stands empty save for a few empty black plastic pots.

      To help with their lack of food EAM agree to provide them with sweet
      potato vines - providing them with food in between the annual maize
      harvests.

      Beatings

      One of the women sits silently, head hanging down. She tells us her
      story. Her husband beat her so fiercely that she was taken to hospital -
      some distance away. But it was too late to save her eye.

      "Was he punished?" we ask.

      "No", they reply. He was arrested for three days then they let him
      return home to live again with his wife. She looks on impassively.

      "Do other women get beaten here?" we ask. "Of course" they respond.

      "Would it help if the women got together and supported each other?"
      They respond with concern, "No, if the men thought we were even talking
      together about it, then we would each be beaten in our own homes".

      This is a very real issue for many women, not just in Malawi. Our
      church based development programme includes helping disadvantaged groups
      to advocate for change, attempting to reduce inequalities.

      However, one of the risks is that the disadvantaged will suffer even
      more if action is taken. 'Breaking the silence' is an issue not just for
      HIV/Aids.

      Some 80% of the food grown in Malawi is provided by women farmers like
      these sitting here talking with me, yet few have the right even to make
      decisions in their own homes and many are abused.

      The task of development work is often complex, addressing sensitive
      issues, working within different cultural practices but challenging the
      accepted 'norms' that oppress some and advantage others. We still have a
      long way to go.

      *****

      Violence mars Malawi match
      By Aubrey Sumbuleta
      BBC Sport, Blantyre

      A pitch invasion by irate fans cast a dark shadow over a friendly
      international between Malawi and Zambia in Blantyre.

      Anti-riot police used rubber bullets and tear gas canisters to disperse
      the crowd that invaded the pitch after Malawi lost 1-0 to the visitors.

      Trouble began in the 88th minute of Saturday's match, after Malawi was
      given a free kick.

      Striker Moses Chavula pounced on a rebound to score for Malawi but
      centre referee Everson Lwanja ruled the goal offside, after consulting
      with assistant referee Moffat Champiti.

      With only six Malawian players on the pitch, play resumed and striker
      Sipho Mumbi scored the winner for Zambia.

      Angered by the turn of events, fans threw stones and other objects onto
      the pitch.

      This forced a stoppage of the match, as players from both sides huddled
      to the centre of the pitch, with the police providing protective cover.

      After the police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at the rioting fans,
      Malawi FA president John Zingale went onto the pitch and demanded that
      they desist from using force.

      But the armed police officers claimed they were acting in self-defence
      after a colleague had been injured by fans.

      Zambian coach Patrick Phiri said the fans behaviour was uncalled for.

      "There was no reason for the fans to over react like that. This is only
      a friendly international and Malawi are our neighbours," he said.

      But Malawi manager Allan Gillet blamed the centre referee for the
      incident.

      Gillet said the match should not have been restarted when his team only
      had six players on the pitch.

      "The referee should have seen that there weren't enough players to
      resume the match," he said.

      *****

      Deported journalist accuses Zimbabwe

      A newspaper correspondent deported by Zimbabwe has accused its
      "increasingly desperate" government of effectively abducting him.

      Andrew Meldrum, a US citizen who writes for the British newspaper The
      Guardian, said he was forced to leave the country after being "held
      captive for 10 hours".

      The 51-year-old said that he, and those journalists remaining in
      Zimbabwe, would continue to report on the issues facing the
      crisis-ridden country.

      Mr Meldrum, who had worked in Zimbabwe for 22 years, was flown out on
      Friday night, despite a High Court judge's order staying the
      deportation.

      'Quite frightening'

      Describing his deportation, Mr Meldrum said: "When they bundled me into
      the car, they put a jacket over my head so I did not know where they
      were taking me.

      "It was quite frightening but I did not want them to know I was
      frightened.

      "I was taken to a small room in the basement of the airport and held
      there."

      Mr Meldrum said he was not allowed to get in touch with his wife,
      lawyer, or anybody else that could help.

      He added: "I was prevented from getting the court order my lawyer had
      won in court yesterday and they just bundled me onto the plane.

      "My passport was returned to me this morning."

      'Committed band'

      Arriving at London's Gatwick Airport, he said the Zimbabwe government
      had aimed to intimidate other journalists working in Zimbabwe.

      Mr Meldrum said: "It's a classic case of shooting the messenger, or in
      this case, deporting the messenger."

      Few foreign reporters remain in Zimbabwe, but Mr Meldrum said a
      "committed band" of journalists were still able to report on the
      country's situation.

      Mr Meldrum said his wife, Dolores, who is still in Zimbabwe, would be
      fine with the help of friends as she prepared to leave.

      'Undesirable'

      Zimbabwean officials accused Mr Meldrum of unwarranted criticism of the
      regime of President Robert Mugabe.

      He had been awaiting the result of his appeal against an earlier
      deportation order issued last July.

      The new order was signed by Zimbabwe's home affairs minister Kembo
      Mahadi and said it was not in the public interest to reveal why Mr
      Meldrum was deemed "an undesirable inhabitant".

      UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said on Friday: "I am very concerned
      about this case.

      "Petty and vindictive actions like this simply expose the Zimbabwean
      regime for what it is."

      Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said: "The Zimbabwean authorities have
      been persecuting Andrew for the last 12 months and their clear
      determination to deport him can only be interpreted as a concerted
      effort to stifle any free press within the country."

      *****

      Zimbabwe, the police state
      Andrew Meldrum
      19 May 2003 07:25
      Night visits to my home by threatening men in vans with blacked out
      windows. Attacks vilifying me in the state press as a "terrorist", an
      "agent of imperialism" and "a liar". Threats, by phone, email and
      conversations with "friends", in which I was told that I would not be
      safe in this country.

      These were all signs of the antipathy of President Robert Mugabe's
      government to a journalist chronicling the decline of his long and
      torrid rule.

      Over the past year I have been harassed, arrested, thrown in jail, put
      on trial, acquitted and finally -- this weekend -- deported from
      Zimbabwe.

      For those 12 months I continued to live and work there, to write about
      the country's political crisis, the economic melt-down that has turned
      one of Africa's most prosperous economies into one of its poorest, and
      the abuses of human rights and other democratic freedoms.

      In short, I watched how the regime transformed a functioning democracy
      into a police state.

      I first arrived in Zimbabwe in 1980 when the country won its
      independence and majority rule. I was a young journalist full of
      enthusiasm for Robert Mugabe's new order, his policy of racial
      reconciliation, his socialist measures to improve the education, health
      and standards of living of black Zimbabweans. It was a heady time, when
      the entire country was infused with irrepressible optimism.

      Sadly, honeymoons never last, and by 1982 I found myself uncovering and
      reporting on the horrific mass killing of Zimbabwean civilians by the
      army's Fifth Brigade, Mugabe's praetorian guard. The chain of command
      led directly to Mugabe. It was a contradiction of all the country's
      positive developments. It was clear that the killing was part of
      Mugabe's drive to stamp out the opposition party, Joshua Nkomo's Zapu.

      By ejecting Nkomo from his cabinet and arresting army generals allied
      to Nkomo and charging them with treason, Mugabe caused a small scale
      rebellion of soldiers who supported them. Then the Fifth Brigade rolled
      into southern Zimbabwe, Matabeleland, and began the wholesale slaughter
      of thousands of the rural Ndebele people, the minority ethnic group
      which forms about 20% of the country's population. Scores of thousands
      more suffered beatings and hunger as the government stopped food
      supplies reaching the chronically drought-stricken area.

      It became apparent that the violence was part of Mugabe's drive to
      consolidate his power. It continued until December 1987 when a broken
      Joshua Nkomo agreed to allow his party to be swallowed by Mugabe's
      Zanu-PF. The creation of a one-party state, Mugabe's stated goal, was
      within his grasp.

      Somehow, Robert Mugabe managed to emerge from the horrors of
      Matabeleland with his reputation relatively unscathed. No longer an
      untarnished hero, to be sure, but he remained a plausible leader. The
      lot of the majority of Zimbabweans continued to improve.

      Zimbabwe remained a beacon beaming the light of hope on South Africa's
      dark system of minority rule. Anti-apartheid activists of all colours
      flocked there and insisted that its democracy pointed the way for South
      Africa's future. It also became a hive of South African spies carrying
      out assassinations and terror bombings. It was an engrossing place to
      work as a journalist.

      When Nelson Mandela was freed, Zimbabwe was the first country he
      visited, underlining the crucial role it had played in the struggle
      against apartheid.

      But South Africa's progress was not entirely good news for Robert
      Mugabe. The international community ceased to see him as the lesser of
      two evils, compared to apartheid. A wave of democracy swept across
      southern Africa in which Malawi's Hastings Banda and Zambia's Kenneth
      Kaunda were toppled by overwhelming votes.

      When Mugabe proposed to declare Zimbabwe a one-party state, members of
      his own party's central committee blocked it, saying that they would be
      going against the democratic tide, and that they could enjoy de facto
      one-party rule without the trouble of imposing de jure control.

      Compared to the glowing magnanimity of Nelson Mandela, Mugabe appeared
      bitter and spiteful. A turning point came in August 1996 when, while
      opening the Zimbabwe International Book Fair, he spewed out a
      hate-filled tirade against gays.

      I remember scribbling down his furious words describing gays as "worse
      than pigs and dogs" and suggesting that homosexuality was akin to having
      sex with dead bodies. A group of schoolchildren sat dumbfounded by the
      speech. From that point on Mugabe's international image began its
      decline to despot.

      This should not paint a picture that everything has been negative in
      Zimbabwe. My experience there has been overwhelmingly positive. Friends
      who are doctors, teachers, artists and lawyers bound together to create
      a community always encouraging fairness and democracy. But by 2000 the
      opposition to Mugabe's rule had grown so great that the churches,
      women's groups, human rights defenders and lawyers groups pressed for a
      new constitution.

      Mugabe agreed but, wily as ever, he created a document which increased
      his power rather than reduced it. His draft constitution was presented
      to the country in a referendum in February, 2000.

      Despite saturation coverage in the media, the voters rejected it. It
      was a stinging slap in the face.

      Two weeks later the first invasions of white-owned farms began. Mugabe
      was fighting back. The invasions were illegal but the police were
      ordered not to take any action against them. It was the beginning of the
      transformation of the police into a political entity which simply
      carries out its master's bidding.

      In June 2000 came the parliamentary elections. The opposition party,
      the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), had already won widespread
      popularity and campaigned valiantly despite a programme of violence in
      which more than 200 people, virtually all opposition supporters, were
      killed. The MDC narrowly lost the elections, which all credible
      international observer teams said were not free or fair.

      In addition to the often ugly political developments in Mugabe's
      Zimbabwe, he has tragically failed to give effective leadership in the
      two huge social challenges facing the country, Aids and famine.

      Aids spread so rapidly that a few years ago Zimbabwe had the world's
      highest HIV infection rate: 35% of the adult population. Shying away
      from effective public education, the government created an Aids fund and
      then allowed Mugabe's cronies to loot it.

      After Mugabe's seizures of white-owned farms little was done to keep
      the land cultivated. It was no surprise when famine gripped the country.
      Even when more than half the population were forced to depend on
      international food relief, Mugabe could not resist trying to starve
      areas which supported the opposition.

      Repression of the press began in 2000. Just before the parliamentary
      elections, immigration officers served deportation orders on the BBC
      correspondent Joe Winter. He won a court order giving him a week to pack
      and wind up his affairs.

      But that night government thugs went to his house, ransacked it and
      terrorised him, his wife and young daughter. Winter left the country and
      within days the government deported the legendary South American
      journalist Mercedes Sayagues, whom we called La Pasionaria for her
      fearless reporting on human rights abuses.

      A few months later the Telegraph's correspondent, David Blair, was
      forced to leave the country. I became the last foreign journalist in the
      country.

      The determination of the Zimbabwean press, particularly the reporters
      on the privately owned Daily News, the Zimbabwe Independent and the
      Standard, inspired me with their commitment to exposing corruption,
      beatings, torture, murder and other unsavoury aspects of Mugabe's rule.

      The printing press of the Daily News were blown up, the editor of the
      Standard, Mark Chavunduka, and his reporter, Ray Choto, were abducted by
      army officers and viciously tortured. Yet Zimbabwe's journalists refused
      to be deterred from writing about events as they happened.

      Systematic human rights abuses, the thwarting of democracy, corruption
      -- these are the issues any journalist is obliged to cover. I continued
      to do work, the best work I could, and that led to my arrest and
      imprisonment last year.

      After my trial and acquittal and the government's failed attempt to
      deport me, I returned to my work. The steady drivel of articles
      vilifying me in the state press did not get me down, largely because of
      the hearty support and encouragement I received from people of all
      colours and walks of life when I walked on the street.

      That support, and phone calls and e-mails from fellow Zimbabwean
      journalists helped me to shrug off the government's threats.

      But last Friday I was abducted and thrown out of the country, despite a
      court order to halt the action.

      When all is said and done, I still blame Ian Smith for Zimbabwe's
      troubles today. He ran a system which deprived the majority of their
      rights and dignity. The Rhodesian regime was so violent that only
      violence could unseat it. Only the most ruthless could overthrow Smith's
      system, and that was Robert Mugabe. Violence begets violence. And we can
      see now that Mugabe only values his own power and will use any force to
      maintain it.

      I am angry at how Mugabe has subverted Zimbabwe's democracy and reduced
      people to misery. I am appalled that the police kidnapped the opposition
      member of parliament Job Sikhala a few months ago and tortured him with
      electric shocks. I am furious that the regime has targeted ordinary
      citizens such as Raphinos Madzokere, who has been hospitalised twice for
      torture, has seen his home destroyed and now lives on the run with his
      wife and three children.

      I am determined to continue reporting on these abuses in the hope that
      they will stop, and to help bring the perpetrators to justice.

      I am confident that the people of Zimbabwe will succeed in restoring
      the country's democracy and basic freedoms, and will rebuild the economy
      to prosperity. - Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003
    • Christine Chumbler
      ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17 The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22, 2006
      • 0 Attachment

        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

      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.