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  • Christine Chumbler
    IMF dangles aid carrot for Malawi Blantyre 10 June 2003 10:05 Impoverished Malawi will have to wait till next month to hear whether millions in much needed aid
    Message 1 of 1046 , Jun 10, 2003
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      IMF dangles aid carrot for Malawi

      Blantyre

      10 June 2003 10:05

      Impoverished Malawi will have to wait till next month to hear whether
      millions in much needed aid will be made available, the International
      Monetary Fund (IMF) announced on Monday.

      Joseph Kakoza, the fund's Malawi head, said it will be waiting for next
      month's presentation of the national 2003/2004 annual budget before
      making a presentation to its executive board to resume aid to Malawi.

      Having just completed a two week visit to Malawi, Kakoza said the IMF
      would also be waiting for the implementation of government's fiscal
      targets for the month of June.

      "We would be monitoring how the Malawi government will implement its
      fiscal target for the past three months ending June. We hope that the
      budget will reflect what we discussed. It is our hope and every
      Malawian's hope that we can revive the economic programme for
      Malawi," he said.

      The IMF is withholding $47-million because the country could not meet
      preset financial conditions.

      Kakoza supported the government's intention to use a major portion of
      the aid to reduce domestic debt, strengthen controls, monitor government
      expenditures and enhance tax administration and revenue collection.

      Minister of Finance, Friday Jumbe told journalists on Monday that
      government has made remarkable progress in its fiscal discipline and
      urged donors to respond positively to the development.

      "I am very sure that we are going to meet our targets for the past
      three months by the end of this month and we are sure of having positive
      results when the IMF executive board meets sometime
      in August," he said.

      Last year the cash strapped southern African country approved a Bill
      authorising the government to borrow $50-million from the World Bank to
      buy food relief to ease the current food crisis.

      An estimated 3,2-million people face starvation in the country, in a
      food crisis blamed on both drought and government mismanagement of grain
      reserves. - Sapa-AP

      *****

      Malawians mull democracy decade

      By Raphael Tenthani
      BBC, Blantyre


      This month 10 years ago Malawians achieved a historic metamorphosis.

      After enduring three decades of uninterrupted one-party dictatorship
      under the late Hastings Kamuzu Banda and the former ruling Malawi
      Congress Party (MCP), Malawians said "enough is enough".

      In June 1993, under intense pressure from donors, Dr Banda called for a
      national referendum asking Malawians whether they wanted a continuation
      of his one-party system of government or they preferred a multiparty
      democracy.

      Malawians decisively voted for the latter, thereby heralding a new dawn
      of democracy.

      Taking stock

      As part of the commemorations, a group of scholars, politicians,
      religious leaders, civil rights activists and donors have converged on
      the capital, Lilongwe, to take stock of what has been or has not been
      achieved during the past 10 years.

      The meeting has brought together Malawians of diverse political views
      from political exiles who fled Dr Banda's autocratic rule to the late
      dictator's loyalists who fought so gallantly to retain the one party
      system of government.

      As you would expect, the ruling United Democratic Front is quick to
      list the democratic plusses in the past 10 years.

      Dr Bingu wa Mutharika was recently controversially anointed by
      President Bakili Muluzi to be his successor when he retires after
      serving his constitutional two five-year terms next year.

      "The first five years of independence was essentially one of
      transition, the second five years was a period of consolidation," he
      says

      "So the challenge for Malawi now is one of development and how we can
      empower the ordinary Malawian in the street."

      Kate Kainja, the secretary general of the former ruling Malawi Congress
      Party (MCP), admits some strides have been made but says there is still
      a lot of work to do.

      "There is still a lot of discrimination," she says. "For example if you
      belong to the opposition you are not likely to be supported in your
      economic activities. For me that is a major headache."

      Below par

      Religious leaders, notably the Catholic Church, were credited to have
      been the first to criticise Dr Banda's authoritarian regime.

      Monsignor Boniface Tamani of the Catholic Church is Chairman of the
      Public Affairs Committee, a grouping of religious leaders which comments
      on socio-political issues in Malawi says the country can do better.

      "We have achieved some freedom of expression. For example the judiciary
      is exercising its independence somehow, but these are things that need
      protecting," he said.

      The monsignor said all Malawians had a responsibility to safeguard
      these freedoms, demand their rights and make their leaders accountable.


      "I think we haven't come to that level yet and that is one of the
      requirements of democracy."

      *****

      CB Establishes Specialist Units to Improve Efficiency

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      June 8, 2003
      Posted to the web June 8, 2003

      Jacob Jimu
      Lilongwe

      The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) says that it has established
      specialist units in the bureau in order to enhance its capability in
      combating corruption.

      ACB Assistant Director Victor Banda said this last Friday at the
      closing of three week's training for investigators on monetary
      competencies that the bureau organised.

      'Some of the specialist units we have established include contracts,
      procurement and access and administration of justice. We hope that such
      units will be better able to deal with issues in their respective
      specialities since they will be equipped with requisite skills on how to
      handle corruption issues in those areas,' said Banda.

      He added that the British Department for International Development
      (DFID) has already provided funding for the programme.

      'At the moment the Malawi Institute of Management (MIM) is undertaking
      a *needs assessment' and once the exercise is over the programme will
      begin,' he said.

      Speaking at the same function, the British Ambassador to Malawi, His
      Excellency Norman Ling said that the dominant perception that the bureau
      is ineffective is wrong, saying that the bureau has managed to register
      a 50% success rate.

      'Contrary to the view that the bureau is ineffective, it actually has a
      conviction rate of 50%. This is very credible,' said Ling.

      Ling called on government to create an enabling environment so that the
      bureau's performance is further enhanced.

      'The government must enforce its accounting and disciplinary
      procedures.

      Funding levels for the bureau should be maintained if not augmented,'
      he added.

      Ling expressed his government's desire to have the Corrupt Practices
      Act amended in order to give the bureau the legal powers to commence
      litigation against suspects of corruption without seeking the consent of
      the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) as is currently the case.

      'That would provide a strong, positive signal to the international
      donor community and international investors that Malawi is committed to
      fighting corruption,' remarked Ling.

      The workshop, funded by the British government through DFID drew eleven
      participants from Malawi, two from Zambia and one from Sierra Leone.


      *****

      Journalists Concerned About Community Radio News Ban

      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

      June 4, 2003
      Posted to the web June 4, 2003

      Johannesburg dalawi now is one of development and how

      A group of concerned journalists in Malawi have called for the repeal
      of a media law that bans community radio stations from broadcasting
      news.

      The issue has dogged Malawi's broadcasters for some time, but it rose
      to prominence again during an international conference on the role of
      community radio, held in the southern city of Blantyre earlier this
      week.

      A spokesman for the National Media Institute of Southern Africa
      (NAMISA), Innocent Chitosi, told IRIN that Evans Namanja, director
      general of the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA),
      reminded delegates of the controversial Section 51 (3) c of the
      Communications Act.

      Chitosi said the warning appeared to have been directed at the Malawi
      Institute of Journalism (MIJ) radio station, although a number of other
      community radio stations broadcast news.

      MACRA has previously accused the MIJ, considered a training ground for
      journalists, of biased reporting and warned that it risked losing its
      licence.

      Chitosi said the latest warnings have been seen as an attempt to
      silence media, other than the state-controlled Malawi Broadcasting
      Corporation (MBC) and Television Malawi, ahead of next year's
      elections.

      "The MBC news is just about the ruling United Democratic Front and the
      president's diary," Chitosa said. "But the MIJ puts people first and
      quotes the opposition."

      A statement released by NAMISA said: "Community radio gives all
      political players and ordinary citizens a platform to air their views."

      Chitosi said that NAMISA, the Malawi chapter of the Media Institute of
      Southern Africa, had a meeting scheduled with parliament's media
      committee later in June to discuss the matter.

      "Although the act stipulates that community radio stations can't
      broadcast news, it is against [section 35 and 36] of the Malawi
      constitution which provides for freedom of the media and freedom of
      expression," he said.

      Chitosa said they would also ask for a review of the MBC and MACRA
      boards to ensure that they are composed of media professionals.

      With a high percentage of Malawi's population living under the poverty
      line, many people cannot afford television sets or buy newspapers, and
      rely on community radio stations for information.

      *****

      Satellite Transmitters Monitor School Feeding

      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

      June 4, 2003
      Posted to the web June 4, 2003

      Johannesburg

      The World Food Programme (WFP) in Malawi will monitor the progress of
      its school feeding programmes in 12 pilot sites via satellite.

      Twelve satellite transmitters have been installed in schools in the
      central Dedza district to ensure the faster collection of data and act
      as an early warning system, especially during the rainy season and in
      remote areas, Giles Enticknap, WFP programme assistant for school
      feeding in Malawi, told IRIN on Wednesday.

      "It would provide information on where (food) deliveries have been made
      and monitor the distribution of commodities for forward planning," he
      explained.

      The devices, which operate on five-year batteries, are installed in
      protective boxes and operated by teachers. They contain a monitor with
      prompts to enter information like enrolment figures and ration sizes on
      the keypad. The information is relayed to a global satellite network and
      then downloaded via a private company in France to a WFP website for
      analysis by staffers.

      The system is currently being used in countries in South America and
      Asia, as well as in Sudan where it takes 15 hours for field workers to
      reach some schools.

      Plans are afoot to install up to 75 of the devices.

      Malawi's school feeding programmes, considered an important factor
      particularly in keeping girls in school, currently reach about 160,000
      children in eight districts.

      *****

      HIV/Aids And Women's Reproductive Health

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      OPINION
      June 8, 2003
      Posted to the web June 8, 2003

      Pushpa Jamieson
      Lilongwe

      The risk of death due to pregnancy is compounded by HIV/AIDS whose
      incidence is highest amongst women in the age group 20 to 34. This issue
      therefore has more to do with the control of women's bodies and
      decisions on when and with whom women should have a child.

      This is a satement in a publication made by the Government of Malawi on
      The National Platform for Action as a follow up to the 4th World
      Conference On Women which was held in Beijing in September 1995.

      The statement also reveals that a Demographic and Health Survey (DHS)
      found that at the time the survey was carried out, 40% of all
      pregnancies in Malawi were unwanted.

      This fact has indicated the need to empower women to be able to contol
      their fertility in order for them to make the best choices for their
      reproductive health.

      A chat with Regina and some of her friends drawing water at a villiage
      borehole in a rural location reveals to what extent women are concerned
      about not being able to make the choice about how many children they
      want to have.

      'I have eight children and three have died,' Regina said. ' My last
      born is now four years old and my husband is wondering why it is that I
      have not become pregnant again.' She says she has had to use some tricks
      in order not to fall pegnant. 'I heard from some younger women about
      Banja La Mtsogolo and visited them on my way to the market. After
      explaining to them that I did not want to have any more children, they
      gave me medicine that I take every day.

      'The only problem is that I must make sure that my husband does not
      know that I take this in order not to become pregnant' she adds, 'I keep
      the medicine in the dengu (basket) where I the ufa (maize flour) is
      because that is a place he never goes.

      'It is very difficult to keep this secret fom him and he would kill me
      if he knew what I was up to'.

      As the other women laugh at what is being told, one of them reveals
      that she too has a problem because she does not want any more childen.

      Gette worked as a housemaid for some time before she was married and
      her boss told her about the pill. 'My boss and I were like family and
      she always told me that I should not have many children because it was
      not good for my health. Also, if I had less children, I could look after
      them much better.' Since she was married less than five years ago she
      has had two children and about to have her 3rd. 'I would like this to be
      my last child and I worry about talking to my husband about not having
      any more.' She points out that children are very important to the man,
      and the more children he has the more manly he feels. 'I do not even
      know how to start talking to him about not having any more children' she
      laments.

      The other women give advice to Regina about where else she can hide the
      pill in order for her husband not to discover what she has been up to
      and to Gette on how she can ensure that she does not have any moe
      childern.

      When the subject of HIV/AID is brought up, the joking and jovial mood
      changes instantly. 'This is a real concern,' Regina says adding, 'We are
      burying many people in the village and we know that it is this which is
      killing us.' She say because of cultural beliefs women are made to
      adhere to, it is not easy to talk to a husband about sex. 'Even if you
      know that he has been sleeping with a person who has died from AIDS
      related complications, you cannot ask him anything.' She said in most
      cases women just take care of a husband that has become sick and not
      even mention AIDS. 'You just take care of him and wait for your time to
      get sick to come' The other women nod in agreement. Gette openly says
      she has not been feeling well since her last baby and has thought about
      finding out if she is HIV positive.

      'I have not been well since the last child and would like to know if I
      have the virus, but I cannot even speak to my husband about it because
      he may think I do not trust him and he will leave me. He provides for me
      and the children. I can not afford to suggest HIV testing which would
      make him very angry.' Asked what they though would help in addressing
      their concerns, one woman said:, 'If it was possible to talk to my
      husband about HIV and AIDS without fear of being beaten or worse, left
      it would be good.' Another added: 'If you can talk openly about things
      like this as two people and not woman and man, more things would be
      solved becaue you would consider each other's points' Although this is
      happening in a rural setting, the situation is no different in the urban
      areas where most women have been taught that a husband has the final say
      in maters relating to the family.

      Because sex is still very much a taboo subject in the Malawian culture,
      silence surrounds this topic. This has a tremendously negative impact on
      the prevention, treatment and mitigating factors in the fight against
      HIV/AIDS.

      Silence and not being able to discus HIV/AIDS or issue that concern sex
      will hinder the fight against the epidemic.

      According to a paper presented at the Mainstreaming of Gender in
      Development Planning and Project Management for Catholic Relief Sevices
      by Dr. Mary Shawa of the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Community
      Services, because of the culture of silence that surrounds sex,
      accessing treatment and services for sexually tansmitted diseases is
      highly stigmatising for both women and men.

      It is worse for women because telling a partner would result in a
      matrimonial break up. Close to 80% of Malawian have one form of Sexually
      Transmitted Infection (STI) without their knowledge because many of the
      STDs do not show obvious signs or symptoms. Unless one has the
      information about the signs to watch for, it is difficult to know if you
      are infected.

      As sex in still the most common and fastest way in which HIV/AIDS is
      spread in Malawi, the risk of becoming infected is much higher when
      woman are not able to make decesions about their reproductive health.

      *****

      Mozambique moved by HIV story

      By Jose Tembe
      BBC, Maputo

      One of Mozambique's leading journalists has become the first media
      professional in the country to announce publicly that he is
      HIV-positive.

      Bento Bango, who writes for the weekly paper Zambeze in Maputo, told a
      news conference on Thursday that he had decided to break the silence so
      that people would have no reason to speculate about his condition.

      The 44-year-old father of four said he discovered he was infected with
      the virus that causes Aids after a voluntary test at Maputo Central
      Hospital in May this year.

      He said he did not know how the news would be received by his
      colleagues and employer, who have been informed, as HIV/Aids is still
      stigmatised in Africa.

      Courageous act

      "I have been renting a house. But about two weeks ago, the landlord
      told me to vacate the premises, although I have paid a three-month rent
      in advance," he said.

      The news conference was attended by Bango's wife, father, Prime
      Minister Pascoal Mocumbi, Health Minister Francisco Songane and Janet
      Mondlane, who heads the National Council for the fight against Aids.

      Bango told his fellow journalists that he might have contracted the
      virus HIV through unprotected sex.

      Prime Minister Mocumbi praised Bango's courage.

      Mr Mocumbi said Aids was claiming the lives of many Mozambicans, and
      Bango's attitude showed that people were becoming aware of HIV/Aids,
      which poses the greatest threat to the country's development.


      'Positive Lives'

      Receiving a copy of a book titled Vidas Positivas (Positive Lives) from
      the prime minister, Bango said: "I hope that the government and the
      community will support me, and I am prepared to work with the National
      Council for the struggle against the pandemic".

      Official statistics show that the rate of HIV infection among adults in
      Mozambique has risen to nearly 15% this year, from 12% last year.

      Life expectancy in Mozambique is expected to drop to just under 40
      years in 2010 because of HIV/Aids.

      *****

      Bruiser Bob says he's 'fighting fit'

      Cape Town

      09 June 2003 09:29

      Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has dismissed speculation that he
      means to retire in the near future, saying he is still fighting fit.

      "I am for a fight, I am getting younger as I told you, and I still can
      punch," he said in an interview recorded earlier this week and broadcast
      by SABC television on Sunday.

      He also said the opposition Movement for Democratic Change's "final
      push" this week to topple his government -- which was brutally checked
      by his security forces -- had failed totally.

      "It was just some drama for the G8 which they wanted, but a drama in
      which the main characters have failed to impress anyone," Mugabe said.

      Asked about the possibility of talks with the MDC, he said his
      government had already said it wanted dialogue "but it must be
      meaningful dialogue".

      Referring to the MDC's court challenge to the legitimacy of his
      re-election as president last year, he said there could be no dialogue
      on issues that were still pending in court.

      "We have said either you withdraw the case in court regarding the
      legitimacy of my government, the legitimacy of myself, or you wait until
      the court has decided on the issues that you have placed before the
      judges. You can't have it both ways."

      The MDC, he said wanted to dialogue with the British and the Americans,
      and did not look at the need for Zimbabweans to talk with each other in
      a realistic way to find a solution to their problems.

      "We are open on that one, yes, certainly, and we remain open. We have
      said so to our mediators [Nigerian] President Obasanjo and President
      Mbeki and they have been helping us immensely on this subject.

      "But of course their appeal to the MDC not to resort to mass action,
      not to resort to violence has not yielded fruit. But we ask them to
      continue to appeal to them.

      "It's sad when we are forced as government to have to use teargas
      against our youth who are being misled. But we have to do it in the
      interests of peace and security. We don't want to make our people
      suffer."

      Mugabe, who is 79, said that as he got "younger and younger" he was
      attracted by the prospect of retirement. However he did not want to
      retire in a situation where people were disunited and where certain
      objectives had not been achieved.

      "The succession issue should be discussed in a harmonious way, openly,
      and if it points the way forward well and good, but if it is going to
      cause division, as it is tending to do at the moment, then one says no
      to it."

      He said it would be nonsensical for him to quit only a year after
      re-election.

      He also rejected speculation that his government had mismanaged
      Zimbabwe's economy, and blamed the country's woes on recurrent drought
      and sanctions. - Sapa

      *****

      Tsvangirai to be held in jail until July



      10 June 2003 07:44

      Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been remanded in
      custody until next month and formally charged with treason after his
      party called for anti-government protests last week, state prosecutor
      Stephen Musona said on Tuesday.

      Musona said the head of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
      (MDC), who was arrested on Friday, was charged under the country's tough
      security laws with treason for inciting violence.

      He was remanded in custody until July 10 by a magistrates' court in
      Harare but given leave to apply for bail at a higher court.

      His arrest came on the last day of a week of protests against President
      Robert Mugabe. The MDC claimed that 800 of its supporters had been
      arrested in the five-day national strike last week.

      Tsvangirai already faces charges of treason that he plot ted to have
      President Robert Mugabe assassinated.

      The fresh charge is that he plotted a violent overthrow of the Mugabe
      government by calling for mass anti-government demonstrations.
      Tsvangirai denies both charges, saying he has always advocated a
      peaceful change of government in Zimbabwe.

      The opposition party's secretary general, Welshman Ncube, a co-accused
      in the first treason trial, was arrested yesterday and may also face new
      treason charges. He was questioned yesterday by police, who were
      expected to detain him after his appearance in the high court.

      Mugabe warned that he would continue his campaign against the
      opposition in a rare interview broadcast by the South African
      Broadcasting Corporation: "As long as there is that fight, I am for a
      fight ... And I can still punch."

      The 79-year-old president dismissed suggestions that he is ready to
      retire after 23 years in power.

      South Africa has encouraged him to stand down and hand over to a
      government of national unity as part of a deal. But Mugabe rejected the
      suggestion. "I don't want to retire in a situation where people are
      disunited and where certain of our objectives have not been achieved,"
      he said. "It would be nonsensical for me, a year after my election, to
      resign."

      Human Rights Watch, a New York-based organisation, warned that the
      Mugabe government had increased its abuses of civil rights in recent
      months.

      "Not only have the army and police personnel failed to protect people
      from human rights abuses, but they are now carrying out abuses
      themselves," said Peter Takirambudde, executive director of the
      organisation's Africa division. "Recent legislation has drastically
      curtailed citizens' rights to freedom of expression, assembly and
      association." The report says political violence, prevalent in rural
      areas since 2000, has become common in urban centres, and non-political
      organisations are being targeted.

      Police raided the offices and home of filmmaker Edwina Spicer in the
      last few days. "They swooped on our house Friday and again on Monday,"
      said Ms Spicer, who is currently in London. "They accused me of beaming
      bad reports about Zimbabwe from our premises. When staff members said we
      had not been here for a week, they were beaten and required
      hospitalisation."

      Spicer said that equipment worth an estimated £20 000 was seized.

      Human Rights Watch joined numerous Zimbawean civic organisations in
      calling for the Mugabe government to re-establish the rule of law,
      disband youth militia, withdraw military personnel from residential
      areas, and revise legislation contrary to international human rights
      law.

      The government is confronted with growing opposition. The five-day
      strike shut virtually all industrial and commercial activity and
      prompted a massive show of intimidatory strength by security forces.

      Residents of Harare's townships reported beatings by Mugabe's youth
      militia in retribution. Some claimed that the cabinet minister Elliot
      Manyika directed the beatings, according to Zimbabwe's Standard
      newspaper. Manyika carried a list of hundreds of names of people who
      were marked for retaliatory violence, according to the report.

      The new treason charges against Tsvangirai centre on two political
      rallies last month where the state claims he urged supporters to take to
      the streets to oust Mugabe and the Zimbabwean government.

      Ncube is accused of calling on supporters, in statements the government
      says were made last week, to take part in demonstrations and march to
      State House, Mugabe's official residence. Under draconian new security
      laws the protests were declared illegal.

      Tsvangirai's lawyer, George Bizos, said the latest allegations were
      "spurious" and intended to keep his client in custody in the wake of
      last week's protests.

      "The charges are to prevent him from exercising his rights as a
      politician and leader of the opposition," he said. - Guardian Unlimited ©
      Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003

      *****

      Mugabe targets 'unpatriotic' firms

      Harare

      10 June 2003 13:47

      The Zimbabwean government is to take over six firms which closed their
      doors in support of last week's five day "mass action" by the opposition
      Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), industry Minister Francis Nhema
      told state radio on Tuesday.

      Nhema said the firm's operating licences will be cancelled. In
      addition, expatriate staff employed by the firms would have their work
      permits revoked and face deportation.

      He said eight other firms investigated by security police and
      government inspectors during the stayaway associated with the MDC
      protest had managed to give "reasonable excuse" for not doing business
      as normal.

      Nhema did not give details of the firms, or the nationality of their
      owners, but he threatened to give them to "loyal, patriotic" new
      owners.

      Legal and business sources were unaware which firms were being targeted
      but expected appeals to the courts if the authorities went ahead with
      seizures.

      The MDC, led by veteran trades unionist Morgan Tsvangirai, hoped a
      "final push" would force the exit of President Robert Mugabe (79) after
      23 years in power.

      However, the opposition were prevented from "bringing millions onto the
      streets" by the massive deployment of troops, tanks and helicopter
      gunships alongside ruling party militants.

      The authorities allege the MDC are behind a dire shortage of banknotes
      which most economists associate with the 269% runaway inflation here.

      Police assistant commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said police roadblocks
      were seizing large sums of notes. State radio said over Zim$15-million
      (US$188 000) had been confiscated, allegedly intended to bribe youths to
      take part in anti-Mugabe protests.

      Pro-government militants were on Tuesday reported to have forced the
      closure of a private boarding school at Lilfordia, 50km west of Harare.

      The self-styled "ex-guerilla war veterans" invaded the grounds,
      claiming that by temporarily closing during last week's protests, the
      school had taken a political position, reported the independently- owned
      Daily News. It said the 165 children had to be sent home.
    • 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

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