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

news

Expand Messages
  • Christine Chumbler
    David Whitehead Sale Put On Hold Malawi Standard (Blantyre) June 1, 2003 Posted to the web June 2, 2003 Paul Kang ombe And Dickson Kashoti Blantyre The
    Message 1 of 1046 , Jun 3, 2003
    • 0 Attachment
      David Whitehead Sale Put On Hold

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      June 1, 2003
      Posted to the web June 2, 2003

      Paul Kang'ombe And Dickson Kashoti
      Blantyre

      The Privatisation Commission has put on hold the handover of assets of
      David Whitehead and Sons which was scheduled for Friday this week
      following a High Court injunction obtained by the company's management.

      David Whitehead and Sons (Malawi) Limited (DWS) Acting Chief Executive
      Evelyn Mwapasa confirmed in an interview Thursday that the company's
      management obtained the injunction through lawyers Racane and Associates
      because the management felt K70 million was too low comparing to the
      value of the assets.

      "We are convinced that it is not right (to sale the company assets at
      K70 million). They (Privatisation Commission) cannot say the machine is
      scrap. The company (value) is at zero or negative but not the assets,"
      Mwapasa said.

      In a press release dated May 27, 2003, the Privatisation Commission
      says Mapeto Wholesalers of Malawi in association with Jimtex Group of
      companies of India was the preferred bidder, forming a consortium called
      Mapeto (DWSM) Limited with 60 per cent owned by Mapeto Wholesalers and
      40 per cent by Jimtex.

      Mwapasa said the assets, though old, were in good running condition and
      management felt the selling price could have been between K300 million
      to K400 million.

      Mwapasa said since the retrenchment exercise in October, 2002, the
      operations of the company are no longer making losses, saying latest
      management accounts of March 2003 show that the company made a profit of
      K7.456 million.

      Since October 2002, she said, the company has been able to pay off
      creditors and other expenses not relating to the current operation to
      the tune of K16 million which included insurance for old premiums at K6
      million, old balances for water account at K4 million, police expenses
      during staff retrenchment at K1 million, termination of housing leases
      for retrenched staff at K3 million and old coal accounts at K2 million.

      "Besides, the company today has cash bank balances of around K14
      million," she said.

      She said on May 28, 2003, the management met and felt that the assets
      of the company can be profitably operated without any improvements and
      that the assets of company have proven ability to generate healthy cash
      flows.

      She said the meeting also felt that the cash flow achievements have
      been realised in spite of the fact that the company was never provided
      with seed cash working capital for the small operation, which started in
      October 2002.

      "The meeting strongly felt that there is now a need for the company to
      provide the information about the performance of the operations of the
      company since October 2002 to the Privatisation Commission and request
      that the sale price of the assets of the company be reviewed upwards,
      this is in the interest of our government and the people of Malawi" she
      said.

      On the indications given by the Privatisation Commission about the
      company having a value of nil or negative, she said it was true that the
      book value of net assets of the company is negative, but this is
      inclusive of the K1.2 billion debt, which has been hived off by
      government.

      Excluding this debt, she said, the assets of the company have a book
      value in excess of K300 million.

      "On the valuation of the assets being sold, the best basis to be used
      is to evaluate their ability to generate income and cash. Therefore
      descriptions like scrap or not much, do not give any meaningful
      guidance".

      "On this point, the meeting felt that the Privatisation Commission may
      have been lacking information and they need to be provided with the
      information which management has," said the Acting Chief Executive.

      She said management sought court intervention because the assets
      involved are public therefore the DWSM management is a group of citizens
      in what she said were a privileged position, possessing vital
      information, which needed to be considered in determining the price.

      "The meeting resolved that the company should seek a court injunction
      stopping the sale of the assets of the company. And request that the
      sale price be reviewed in the light of the latest performance of the
      company. I must repeat that management action is in the interest of
      government as we are aware that at times government may not have a true
      picture of issues at stake" she said.

      The Privatization Commission, in the statement says that the joint
      venture company is acquiring the core assets of DWS (properties,
      machinery and equipment, stocks, and intellectual property rights).

      The statement also says that Mapeto (DWSM) Limited was acquiring the
      assets free of accumulated corporate commercial liabilities, as well as
      free accumulated government and shareholder indebtedness.

      The company has 250 employees on its pay roll but Mwapasa said the
      company needs about 530 employees if the operations of the company were
      to run smoothly.

      Speaking to some commentators, the price offered by the bidders seems
      so much on the lower side and would allow the new investors to get that
      company for a song. "The company of that size cannot go for only K70
      million with that developed infrastructure as well as its potential to
      make profits. If the machinery is 'scrap' what is the interest of the
      new investor? Would the buildings be the attraction?" mused one
      businessman displaying his wares at the ongoing Trade Fair.

      A lecturer at Polytechnic wondered the interest of the Privatization
      Commission in hurriedly selling off such a giant company without
      adequate consultation and discussion with management and general
      stakeholders.

      "Is this going to be another WICO case or another case of Malawi Lake
      Services? Are these companies going to go for nothing? Are our friends
      at the Privatization Commission protecting the interests of Malawians
      who are suppose to benefit from the sale of such companies?

      Would Malawians fail to put together K70 million to buy off the
      company? Why can't management be given a chance to buy off the company",
      further asked the business studies lecturer.

      *****

      President Muluzi Speaks Against Greedy Politicians

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      June 1, 2003
      Posted to the web June 2, 2003

      Dickson Kashoti
      Blantyre

      President Bakili Muluzi has advised leaders against being greedy,
      saying that leaders ought to be servants of the people. Speaking at a
      mammoth rally he addressed at Malindi in Chief Chowe's area in Mangochi
      on Thursday, Muluzi said that it is unfortunate that some people
      withdrew their membership from the UDF because the party's national
      executive committee did not recommend them as Presidential candidates in
      the 2004 General Elections.

      "As a matter of principle, you don't quit because you were not chosen,
      because doing so is being greedy and over-presumptuous. Let's not be
      greedy and self centred. We are in the positions that we are, because
      people elected us to serve them. The same people will elect us into all
      other positions depending on our performance and character." he said.

      He said that a serious leader should be prepared to accept results of
      an election.

      President Muluzi also expressed surprise that some leaders go claiming
      that they are the most intelligent. In an unveiled reference to some
      former members of UDF like previous First Vice President Aleke Banda's
      claims in the press that he was the intelligent and efficient member of
      cabinet, Muluzi said that the country does not only need intelligence
      but character and valuable service from people holding leadership
      positions.

      He said humility should be the key attribute in leaders, saying it is
      only such leaders that identify themselves with people of various
      standing in the country.

      "I advise you to ignore leaders that pamper themselves," Muluzi said,
      calling such leaders who "newspaper politicians."

      Muluzi then urged UDF leaders to consolidate the party position as the
      biggest and most popular party by attracting more membership.

      He noted the tremendous contribution that party leaders made during the
      fight against the one-party dictatorship, and their subsequent loyalty
      over the years of the party's rule. Muluzi said that this why the UDF
      national executive committee agreed to honour such people with UDF
      Veteran Medals. He encouraged them to continue supporting the party.

      "Whether you are in the North, Centre or in the South, accept my
      heartfelt appreciation for your support," he said.

      The President then introduced Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika and Dr. Cassim
      Chilumpha as UDF national executive committee Presidential candidate and
      running mate, respectively.

      He said some disgruntled politicians were questioning the duo's
      selection, claiming they were imposed. Muluzi clarified that the NEC
      recommended the two and that their positions would be challenged at a
      party convention to be held soon.

      He also advised those that are interested in challenging the NEC's
      proposals to contest at the convention by submitting their nominations
      through NEC that will carry out a screening process of their credentials
      and suitability to stand on UDF ticket.

      The Malawi leader said that NEC's selection procedure was democratic
      and in keeping with other conventions and practices elsewhere, notably
      in the United Kingdom, where candidates are proposed and a party
      convention confirms their suitability.

      The President then expressed sympathy over the hunger situation in the
      area, as reported by the areas' Parliamentarian, Ali Sikelo. Muluzi
      donated 100 tonnes of maize and Likuni Phala to alleviate the people's
      suffering. He also donated K10 million for the rehabilitation of about
      16 schools in the area.

      *****

      SA to Send Vets Team to Help Malawi Fight Foot And Mouth

      BuaNews (Pretoria)

      June 2, 2003
      Posted to the web June 2, 2003

      Thabo Mokgola
      Pretoria

      South Africa will send a technical team to Malawi soon to help the
      country contain the Foot and Mouth disease that has hit one of the
      regions in that country.

      Land and agricultural minister Thoko Didiza made the announcement,
      following a meeting with her Malawian counterpart Chakufwa Chihana in
      Johannesburg this morning.

      She said that as part of today's meeting, government had agreed to
      share its experiences with their Malawian counterparts.

      Foot-and-mouth disease is highly contagious and causes blisters to form
      between the hooves and in the mouth of cloven-hoofed animals such as
      cattle, pigs, goats, buffalo and many wild grass-eating game species.

      Human beings are, however, not susceptible to the disease.

      'We are going to share those experiences also in the form of a
      technical exchange where some of our veterinarians who have assisted in
      the containment of Foot and Mouth in South Africa can actually go to
      Malawi to assist,' she said.

      She added that government would also look at assisting Malawi attain a
      vaccine for the deadly disease from the Onderstepoort vaccine center, in
      Pretoria.

      Minister Chihana, who is also Malawi's Vice-President, said the
      blending of domestic and wild animals in the affected region was one of
      the major causes of the disease.

      He said Malawi was not able to meet the challenge on its own, hence
      they looked no further than their southern neighbour.

      'I am happy that the minister has assured as that they will provide us
      with vaccine, which we are lacking,' he said.

      Other issues that were thrashed out at the meeting included food
      security and the continent's socio-economic recovery plan, Nepad.

      *****

      Malawians 'Feast' On 'Free' Zambian Land

      The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

      June 2, 2003
      Posted to the web June 2, 2003

      EASTERN Province Permanent Secretary Peter Tembo has described the
      encroachment by Malawians on Zambian land on the common border in Chama
      district as a serious matter.

      Brigadier General Tembo at the weekend appealed to members of
      Parliament, councillors and local people to find ways of ensuring that
      no more land was taken by Malawians.

      He was speaking at the provincial development coordinating committee
      meeting held at Luangwa Lodge in Chipata.

      Gen Tembo, who promised to take up the matter with higher authorities
      in Lusaka, was reacting to a report from Chama district administrator
      Boniface Nkhata who said Malawians were allegedly opening more land on
      Zambian soil for tobacco estates.

      Mr Nkhata said a Malawian company, General Farming Limited, had
      continued using 131 hectares of Zambian land in Kalovya area of Chama
      district even after the matter was brought to its attention.

      He said apart from illegally establishing the tobacco estates in
      Zambia, the company was also indiscriminately cutting down trees for
      curing the tobacco.

      Chipata district administrator Clemens Mwanza called for amicable means
      of resolving the issue before it degenerated into a bigger problem.

      Mr Mwanza said Malawians were slowly grabbing Zambian land along the
      border from Chadiza to Kanyelele near Isoka.

      He warned that the matter should not be taken lightly because countries
      had fought wars because of land disputes.

      In September last year, then Eastern Province Minister Nason Sambwa and
      Malawian high commissioner to Zambia Friday Makuta visited the area to
      see for themselves the levels of encroachment.

      Both officials promised to report the matter to their foreign affairs
      ministries in their respective countries to find a peaceful solution to
      the problem, but since then nothing has been done.

      Just last week, Eastern Province Minister Clever Silavwe was shocked to
      find that Malawians were farming on the Zambian land without any
      hindrance.

      Mr Silavwe promised to make the issue his priority to protect the land
      of the country from foreign settlement.

      He urged the local people to be patriotic by ensuring that all people
      with suspicious nationality farming on the country's land were reported
      to immigration officers. - Zana

      *****

      First HIV Vaccine Trial to Be Conducted in the US and Africa



      Email This Page

      Print This Page

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      June 2, 2003
      Posted to the web June 2, 2003

      Lilongwe

      The HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) has launched an international
      clinical trial that will test a promising HIV prevention vaccine
      candidate in humans.

      The vaccine, called EP HIV-1090, will be tested in 42 volunteers in the
      U.S. and Botswana. This trial has the multiple distinctions of being the
      first trial to be conducted simultaneously in the U.S. and Africa, the
      first HVTN trial to take place in Africa, and the first HVTN trial to be
      conducted simultaneously in the U.S. and abroad.

      'This trial marks a new stage in global HIV research,' stated Dr. Larry
      Corey, Principal Investigator for the HVTN. 'Africa is carrying the
      greatest burden of the AIDS epidemic, and it is therefore crucial that
      HIV vaccine development include African leadership, participation and
      support.' Previous human trials conducted by the HVTN outside the U.S.
      have always followed a U.S. trial. This time participants will receive
      the same inoculations during the same time period in the Boston,
      Massachusetts area, in St. Louis, Missouri, and in Gaborone, Botswana.

      'This study is a significant and hopeful step in Botswana's battle
      against the scourge of AIDS,' said Joy Phumaphi, Botswana's Minister of
      Health. 'The volunteers for this trial exemplify the best of the
      traditional Botswana values of altruism and selflessness.' The vaccine
      candidate is a multi-epitope vaccine developed by Epimmune, a San Diego,
      California based pharmaceutical company. EP HIV-1090 is assembled from
      synthetically produced DNA. These small pieces of DNA manufacture
      specific proteins like the ones in HIV. These proteins have elements
      referred to as epitopes, which in this case prepare the body to
      recognize real HIV. There is no way that any part of this vaccine
      candidate can cause HIV infection. As the body learns to mount a defense
      against the vaccine, the hope is that it will also learn to fight off
      real HIV, should the body ever be exposed to the actual virus.

      The EP HIV-1090 trial is a Phase I trial, meaning that it is intended
      to test the safety and immunogenicity (effect on the immune system) of
      the drug. The double-blinded trial will enrol 42 volunteers, 36 of whom
      will receive the candidate vaccine and six of whom will receive the
      placebo.

      Participants will be healthy, HIV-1-uninfected adults between the ages
      of 18 and 40. The trial will last 18 months, after which time the data
      will be evaluated. The candidate vaccine will then be considered for the
      next stage of testing.

      Initial lab studies have shown that EP HIV-1090 may have the potential
      to induce an initial immune response against subtypes of HIV seen in the
      U.S. and in Africa. Testing the product in both countries in the same
      trial will allow for a more thorough understanding of the best way to
      proceed with this vaccine candidate.

      *****

      Zimbabwe capital 'shut down'

      Opposition parties in Zimbabwe say they will continue strikes and
      anti-government protests despite police and army action on Monday
      against street demonstrations.

      In several places across the country riot police used teargas, and
      soldiers in armoured cars fired guns to break up the demonstrations
      against President Robert Mugabe's government.

      Most of the capital, Harare, was reported calm on Tuesday, but with
      virtually all businesses shut. There remains a heavy security presence
      on the streets.

      In low-income suburbs long queues of people waited for transport to
      work places.

      Only a few, mainly state-run buses were operating.

      The government has warned business owners who fail to open that they
      risk losing their operating licences.

      The BBC's Barnaby Phillips says it is unclear just how many Zimbabweans
      have the stomach to take on the well-organised security forces, in a
      week of protests described as critical for the immediate political
      future of President Mugabe.

      Undeterred

      The High Court in Harare is expected to give its judgement on Tuesday
      on the government's application to tighten bail conditions for the MDC
      leader Morgan Tsvangirai, and two other high-ranking officials of the
      opposition party, all on trial for treason.

      The group's secretary-general, Welshman Ncube, said violence against
      protesters would not deter them.

      "What is left is for the people to press on for the next four days with
      the complete stay-away from work and massive demonstrations," he said.

      At least 154 people, most of them opposition activists or officials,
      were arrested across the country on Monday, police said.

      Interference

      A government spokesman, Jerome McDonald Gumbo, accused the MDC of
      intimidating people who wanted to go about their daily routine as
      normal, and said the government had a responsibility to maintain law and
      order.

      "A lot of people are suffering because they cannot conduct their
      day-to-day business. You can't even conduct a funeral, you can't even
      send your children to school," he told the BBC's Network Africa.

      He also attacked what he said was outside interference in Zimbabwe's
      affairs by countries like Britain and the US.

      "The outside world must leave Zimbabwe to make its own decisions. They
      must not interfere and incite our people to fight each other.

      "In the end it is Zimbabweans who suffer," said Mr Gumbo.

      Leaders of the main industrialised nations, the G8, at their meeting
      France expressed concern over developments in Zimbabwe.

      "We are concerned about reports of further violence by the authorities
      in Zimbabwe against their own people," their communiqué said.

      "We called on the government of Zimbabwe to respect the right to
      peaceful demonstration."

      *****

      Zim govt seeks gag order against opposition
      Harare
      03 June 2003 17:07
      Zimbabwe's government went to the High Court on Tuesday, the second day
      of opposition-led protests, asking it to alter the bail conditions for
      MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and two other high-ranking opposition
      officials.

      The government wants the three, who are on trial for treason, to
      refrain from making inflammatory statements or inciting violence as long
      as they are on trial.

      South African opposition defence attorney George Bizos said the
      government's application amounts to an attempt to obtain "a gagging
      order".

      "The purpose of bail is not to gag accused persons from speaking
      against the policies of a government which they consider wrong," Bizos
      argued.

      "Bail conditions are not to be used in order to stop political activity
      in Zimbabwe," he added.

      The trio, which includes Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) secretary
      general Welshman Ncube, is accused of plotting to assassinate Mugabe
      ahead of last year's presidential elections.

      They deny the charges, which could carry the death penalty on
      conviction.

      Bizos also argued against having the same judge preside over the
      treason trial and the state application to tighten the bail conditions,
      saying it would interfere with his function as the trial judge and "may
      lead to a mistrial". Meanwhile the government threatened to withdraw
      operating licences from business owners who failed to open on Tuesday,
      saying its officials would be compiling a list of defiant companies.

      That threat led to supermarkets in the low-income suburbs, located on
      the periphery of the capital, to open for business. Later in the
      morning, some department stores in central Harare opened for business.

      But the MDC, which had called the mass action to force Mugabe to
      discuss the country's economic and political problems with them,
      expressed satisfaction on the first day of the protests.

      The party said the protests were a "victory", despite the arrest of
      several of its leader's supporters on Monday.

      Ncube said the party "would like to congratulate all Zimbabweans for
      their victory over tyranny and dictatorship... through their unity and
      courage which has seen business come to a total standstill throughout
      the country".

      "This is a clear and unambiguous message to the Mugabe regime that the
      people of Zimbabwe have had enough suffering at the hands of the
      illegitimate regime," he said.

      MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Ncube, six lawmakers and more than 120
      MDC supporters were arrested on Monday for defying a High Court order
      banning the mass action. Tsvangirai and Ncube were later released.

      Scores of people, including university students were barred from
      marching in the streets and assaulted by security forces.

      One university lecturer said on Tuesday that 50 students had to be
      hospitalised due to injuries, "notably broken bones" after police
      rampaged through the campus to break up would-be demonstrators on the
      first day of the protests.

      In a statement, MDC said its provincial chairperson for Manicaland, in
      eastern Zimbabwe and 45 MDC supporters were arrested on Tuesday. -
      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
      • 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.