- Electoral Commission Abusing Funds
The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
June 15, 2003
Posted to the web June 16, 2003
Commissioners and Secretarial staff at the Malawi Electoral Commission
are abusing the Loan Facility System and are now owing government
millions of kwachas which they took as Emergency Advances and loans to
buy cars and other household items, including the payment of personal
According to a confidential Internal Audit Report leaked to The
Chronicle five Commissioners owe government over a million kwacha each
in salary and allowance advances and personal loans.
But publicist for the Commission Fergus Lipenga in explaining away the
large handouts say that the loans are part of the commissioners benefits
as stipulated in their job description by the Pubic Appointments
'It is normal. Each and every company gives loans to its employees and
the same applies to the Electoral Commission. That is why people find
out first whether a company give loans before they join it,' Lipenga
However, according the report the granting of advances at the MEC is
open ended resulting in Commissioners/officers having too many advances
and loans than their salaries can accommodate in repayment.
'This leads to impecuniosity on the part of the commissioners and staff
that are easily tempted to be partisan with monetary inducements,' reads
It further reads that the total unrecovered balance as at April 30,
2003 for the Commissioners and Senior Secretarial Staff was
K11,033,511.45. In each case the report indicates that in the 6 months
to May 2003 of the K1 million taken for motor vehicle loans less than
10% has been recovered. In some cases advances have been taken on a
monthly basis with no movement towards recovery.
Commissioners have obtained loans for up to 3 cellpones within a space
of 6 months including obtaining advances for paying cellphone bills.
The report indicates that the abuses will continue unless they are
stopped and recoveries are implemented immediately.
According to the report Chairman of the Commission J.B. Kalaile owes
government K1,140,000, Commissioner F. C. Chirwa K1,529,638.00,
Commissioner A. G. Mtendere K1,275,015.68, Commissioner K. Tembo
K1,196,000, Commissioner M. F. Kanjo K1, 027,837.64, Commissioner M. E.
Ngwembe K937,070.13, Commissioner Nanthuru K964, 950.00, Commissioner
Mwalughali owes K916,000.00 while Commissioner Nsanja owes government
The overall total owed by the Commissioners is K9,938,511.45.
On their part, the Commission Secretariat Staff owe the government
K1,095,000.00. Explaining about the loans by the Secretariat Lipenga
said that those working in the secretariate are entitled to an emergency
loan amounting to three months of their salary. They are also entitled
to a car loan three times their annual salary recoverable in 78 months.
Asked to comment on the complaints that the current Electoral
Commission is partisan in its electoral administration in order to avoid
being queried on the infringement of regulations governing advances and
get government protection, Lipenga said, 'That is not true. All the
loans were accounted for.' On reports that the EC that is deliberately
favouring the ruling party by refusing the opposition parties equal
coverage on Radio MBC and TV Malawi, and for failing to stop the ruling
party from conducting election campaigns before the campaign period has
begun, Lipenga said that the Commission is not empowered to carry out
'If the opposition parties are worried about that issue then they
should go to parliament to amend the constitution and give the EC the
powers to intervene,' he said.
EU Satisfied With Progress On Roads
The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
June 15, 2003
Posted to the web June 16, 2003
European Union (EU) Head of Delegation, Wiepke Van der Goot said the
Union is impressed with the way the National Roads Authority (NRA) is
managing EU funds meant for road rehabilitation and maintenance
programmes, though there is need for the government to look at the
programme as a priority that needs urgent attention and sufficient
He said it is inappropriate to pretend that there is no need for road
rehabilitation and maintenance because most of the roads in the country
are badly damaged.
He added that the EU is supporting NRA with funds to rehabilitate such
roads country-wide in order to make them passable as well as to assist
in avoiding frequent road accidents which, in most cases occur due to
poor road conditions. "We haven't seen anomalies with how EU funds are
managed at the NRA. "They manage them very well although there is still
need for the government to realise that the programme is a priority and
needs enough money since most roads are damaged," Goot told The
Chronicle in a separate interview after reports that government is
diverting some of the EU funds from NRA for other unknown businesses.
The EU has been funding road projects over the last few years to the
tune of some 90 Million, which is equivalent to 8.5 billion Kwacha.
The Head of Delegation recently graced the ground breaking ceremony for
Masasa-Golomoti-Monkey Bay road in Dedza district. The EU has set aside
an amount of MK1.68 billion which is about 16.8 million for the
reconstruction and rehabilitation of the road.
He said the rehabilitation of the Masasa-Golomoti-Monkey Bay road will
undoubtedly have a great impact on this central part of Malawi and
possibly also on the entire country. " It will not only facilitate
access to markets, schools and health centres, it will, in all
likelihood, also provide a major boost to the tourism sector, with the
possibility of earning valuable foreign currency and increased
The road will shorten the route to the southern part of Lake Malawi
which is a major tourist attraction," said Goot.
He added that the authorities should ensure swift completion of the
road and that the necessary administrative arrangements be put in place
for all equipment and materials needed for construction to arrive at the
site without delays and without being halted at the borders of Malawi as
has sometimes happened in the past. "Malawi has probably one of the best
road networks in Southern Africa, but this will deteriorate if the NRA
remains under-funded and this will result in less regular road
maintenance." The project for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of
the road was awarded to Murray and Roberts contractors and Group Five
Joint Venture and the Societe' Nouvelle INGEROUTE were awarded the
Consultancy Services for the supervision and technical assistance for
The road works commenced in mid March and will end in December 2004.
Apart from the rehabilitation of the Masasa-Golomoti-Monkey Bay road,
the EU has also committed itself to funding the rehabilitation of the
Mangochi-Monkey Bay road to the tune of MK605 million.
It will also fund the construction of four damaged bridges along the
Lakeshore area, Lisasadzi, Kasangadzi, Liwaladzi and Kalwe to the tune
of MK220 million- about 2.216 million.
Attorney General's Case Under Scrutiny
The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
June 15, 2003
Posted to the web June 16, 2003
The Chief Justice is contemplating taking to task Attorney General
Peter Fatchi for levelling unsubstantiated allegations against High
Court Judge, Dunstain Mwaungulu.
Fachi questioned Mwaungulu's handling of a multi-million dollar
contract case involving government and a pre-shipment company SGS.
High Court deputy Registrar, Michael Tembo told The Chronicle in a
telephone interview last Wednesday that the matter is receiving the
Chief Justice's urgent and utmost attention.
'The matter is with the Chief Justice who is looking into it. When he
is ready everybody will be informed. But as I have already said, it is
an urgent issue which is being seriously looked into,' said the
The Malawi Law Society in its press release dated June 6, 2003
protested against the conduct of the Attorney General when he levelled
unsubstantiated allegations against Judge Dunstain Mwaungulu in his
handling of the case relating to the injunction sought by SGS Limited.
Part of the press release reads: 'When the allegations were initially
made the Law Society gave the honourable the Attorney General the
benefit of conducting the case but the fact that the honourable Attorney
General has failed to furnish the court with necessary affidavit
evidence of his allegations clearly demonstrates that the honourable the
Attorney General did not act in good faith.' Law Society Secretary
Charles Mhango told The Chronicle in a separate interview that the
society got angered by Fatchi's actions and that is why they asked the
Chief Justice to invoke section 21 (b) and (i) of the act on the
Section 21 states that: The High Court on its own motion or application
by the Attorney General can suspend and admonish any legal practitioner
or even have their names struck off from the row.
Said Mhango, 'We want to protect the profession so that other people do
not do what Fatchi did to the learned Judge Mwaungulu in future. That is
why we want the Chief Justice to admonish the Attorney General.' A
Lilongwe based lawyer who asked for anonymity accused Fatchi of dragging
politics into his profession hence the many blunders he makes even on
'It is like he wants to please his masters rather than respect the
ethics of his profession. If he continues like this he will land himself
in bad books with the rest of practising lawyers in Malawi. I am not
surprised that he is being investigated for professional misconduct,'
said the lawyer.
Fatchi told a local weekly that despite the outcry from lawyers to have
him disciplined his conscience was clear.
Under section 41 of the legal education and legal practitioners' act of
the Laws of Malawi, the Attorney General is the head of the bar in the
According to the lawyers it is this fact alone that he (the Attorney
General) ought to be exemplary in his conduct because any conduct
against professional ethics and etiquette as has happened against the
judge will put the profession into disrepute and undermine the
independence of the judiciary.
Africa's wildlife 'to be privatised'
By Martin Plaut
A South African private company has said that it has plans to take over
a string of national parks throughout Africa.
Sub-Saharan countries said to benefit from the plan are Zambia, Malawi,
Uganda, Kenya and Mozambique.
The scheme, which is the brainchild of a Dutch multi-millionaire and
nature conservationist, Paul van Vlissingen, has won the support of an
extraordinary range of groups and individuals, including former South
Africa president Nelson Mandela, the US State Department and even the
The plan came about after Paul van Vlissingen had a discussion with Mr
Mandela in 1998.
Mr Mandela told him that Africa had so many other priorities, including
education, social services and treating HIV/Aids, he says, that there
were few resources left over to provide for the continent's wildlife.
As a result many game parks are being badly neglected, offering little
to nature conservation or to the people of Africa.
The Dutch tycoon, whose family runs the Makro chain of wholesalers,
came up with an initiative designed to save Africa's ailing game
Many, he argues, exist only on paper, with underpaid rangers looking
after parks that have been hunted bare by poachers.
The scheme was to found a private company, African Parks Management and
Finance Company, to take them over.
Although it is a company, it is designed to bring together public and
private resources, says Mr van Vlissingen.
"The state could bring in expertise, scientists, animals from other
national parks and land, and I could bring in management expertise and
the drive to make it go," he explains.
Mr van Vlissingen claims the Marakele national park which the company
runs north of Johannesburg has been a success, with a number of rare
species now well established.
Now he is looking further afield and he already has a contract to run
two parks in Zambia, Sioma Ngwezi and Liuwa Plains.
Sioma is described by the Zambian tourists authorities as "completely
undeveloped and rarely visited", and there is clearly much for the
company to do.
But the plan has not been without its critics. In April a Zambian
opposition member of parliament declared the deal as "ill-conceived,
null and void".
Speaking at the press conference in Lusaka, Livingstone MP Sakwiba
Sikota said people behind the proposed management of the parks by
African Parks should be exposed and investigated.
"This is an ill-conceived agreement, it borders on theft and plunder of
the resources of the people of Barotseland and should be thrown out.
No company should be given absolute rights over the people's natural
resources unless it is owned 100% by the people of Barotseland
themselves," he said.
In Malawi the company has a 25 year management agreement to run the
Majete, a government owned reserve in the south of the country.
Here again the park is in a poor state.
Malawi tourism authorities say that the park recorded many species,
including elephant, sable, kudu, hartebeest, waterbuck, bushbuck and
"But few remain owing to heavy poaching, so it is best to forget about
mammals and appreciate the reserve simply as a beautiful wilderness
area," the authorities say.
African Parks is currently negotiating to take over other nature
reserves in Mozambique, Uganda and Kenya. Mr van Vlissingen accepts that
his plans are not only radical, but stir up controversy.
But he promises that although his company will be run along commercial
lines, profits will be ploughed back into the countries in which they
He believes that unless a radical approach to game conservancy is
adopted, Africa's wildlife will be wiped out in less than a generation.
Unicef launches birth registration drive in Mozambique
16 June 2003 09:05
Most babies in Mozambique are still denied their "membership card" to
society, because they are not registered at birth, the United Nations'
Children's Fund, Unicef, said on Monday.
Speaking at the launch of a registration drive in the country, Unicef's
Maputo representative, Marie-Pierre Poirier, said birth registration was
a fundamental right all children were entitled to because it was the
first legal acknowledgement of their existence.
"Hence, a birth certificate is one of the most important pieces of
paper a person will ever own.
"Unregistered children lack the most basic protection against abuse and
exploitation, and may become attractive to child traffickers, who seek
to take advantage of their non-status," she added.
On the other hand, a birth certificate opened the door to a whole range
of other rights including education and health care, she said.
"This is of crucial importance for all children, especially for orphans
and other children made vulnerable by HIV/Aids, and for street children.
We encourage the government of Mozambique to strengthen the registration
system and to remove all barriers that prevent parents from getting
their child registered", she added.
Speaking at a school in Maputo on Monday, the African Union's (AU) "Day
of the African Child," she reminded guests, including government
ministers that 2003 had been dedicated to the promotion of birth
registration by the AU.
Unicef said it was difficult to estimate how many people did not have a
birth certificate in Mozambique.
From 2000 to 2002 the number of people registered increased from 145
000 to 244 000 per year.
According to the National Directorate of Registration and Notary,
between 70 and 80% of those were children. However around 765 000 babies
are born in the country annually. - Sapa
Even Zimbabwe's dead need fuel
By Themba Nkosi
The dead have become the latest victims of Zimbabwe's endless fuel
Some dead people have had to endure humiliation by fuel attendants and
garage owners, who demand to see the corpses before they can sell fuel
to hearse drivers enroute to cemeteries.
When the fuel shortages became serious, undertakers were given priority
at petrol stations.
But then conmen started masquerading as undertakers and hearse drivers
and bought large quantities of fuel from garages and sold it at
exorbitant prices on the black market.
In some cases, the conmen managed to produce what looked like genuine
burial certificates at petrol stations and were given fuel by
The government and civic groups have condemned the practice with church
leaders describing it as "satanic".
But garage owners have defended the practice saying it is the only way
to avoid selling the scarce liquid to conmen masquerading as
"We have been getting a lot of people claiming to be from funeral
parlours, some of them carrying fake burial certificates," said one
"In the end we discovered that conmen had exploited the privileges
given to undertakers from genuine funeral parlours."
Funeral parlours fall under the Essential Services Act.
In Harare, undertakers were forced to take four bodies to a service
station after the garage owners demanded proof that the driver of the
hearse was genuine.
In some cases, the funeral parlours tell bereaved families to source
their own fuel before bodies can be transported to cemeteries for
The undertakers have lodged their complaints with the Minister of
Energy and Power Development, Amos Midzi.
Tsvangirai waits in jail for bail hearing
16 June 2003 12:55
A lawyer for Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on
Monday he was still waiting to hear when a ruling is to be made in the
Harare High Court over a bail application by his client.
"I haven't heard anything yet," said his lawyer Innocent Chagonda.
On Friday, High Court Judge Susan Mavangira delayed a ruling on a bail
application by Tsvangirai, jailed 11 days ago on treason charges after
his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party organised a week of
After hearing arguments from both the defence and the state on Friday,
the judge said she needed time to consider their submissions and would
inform lawyers early this week when she would make her ruling.
The MDC called for a week of mass action against the government of
President Robert Mugabe, which it blames for the far-reaching economic
and social hardships in the country.
The government claims the MDC president had called for the violent
ouster of Mugabe. Tsvangirai's lawyers say there is no evidence to
support the charge.
Meanwhile, the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported on Monday
that four prisoners convicted of murder had been hanged.
The four prisoners, who were executed on Friday, had all been convicted
of murder "without extenuating circumstances" the paper said.
Zimbabwe still observes the death penalty against people convicted of
serious crimes such as murder and high treason. - Sapa-AFP
Zimbabwe Bans Strikes in Basic Services
By MICHAEL HARTNACK
The Associated Press
Sunday, June 15, 2003; 10:58 PM
HARARE, Zimbabwe - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has banned strikes
in "essential services" following a five-day protest against his 23-year
rule, a newspaper reported Sunday.
Doctors, nurses, employees of the state power utility, firefighters,
transport and communications industry workers will not be allowed to go
on strike, the independently owned Sunday Standard reported Sunday.
The newspaper said the ban was published in the government's Labor
Notice, a bulletin of new laws. Employees of state radio and television
also were forbidden to strike, the report said.
Penalties were not specified, the newspaper said, but lawyers claimed
Sunday that security laws allow for sentences of up to five years in
"It is a desperate measure which will not change anything because if
workers feel that their grievances are not being addressed they will
always turn to the streets despite the laws," said Collin Gwiyo, deputy
secretary general of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.
Mugabe, 79, told a ruling party rally Friday in the western
Matabeleland region that he would "never again" allow opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai to organize "mass action" advocating his removal.
Tsvangirai, 51, was detained June 6, the last day of the five-day
protest. He remained in a Harare prison Sunday.
Mugabe responded to the protest by deploying security forces to crush
street demonstrations but a concurrent general strike shut down the
Defense lawyers are seeking bail for Tsvangirai, who already is being
tried for treason linked to allegations he plotted an assassination
attempt against Mugabe. A ruling is expected this week. He could face
the death penalty if convicted.
Zimbabwe's economy currently is in its worst crisis since independence
in 1980 with 269 percent inflation, widespread unemployment and the near
collapse of commercial agriculture since Mugabe started redistributing
5,000 white-owned farms to black Zimbabweans.
Britain and the United States have questioned the legitimacy of last
year's presidential elections, which handed Mugabe the presidency for
six more years.
He has threatened to expel the two countries' diplomats for allegedly
inciting unrest, although they are the principal donors of food for 8
million Zimbabweans at risk of starvation.
Sense of despair haunts the African Renaissance
15 June 2003 09:03
In the Liberian town of Redemption last week the bodies of the dead
littered the main street. Aid workers with Médecins Sans Frontières
described a smell of death hanging over the town. 'People have come from
camps where the last food distribution was months ago,' said Alain
Kassa. 'They have again been fleeing for six days with nothing to eat.
Here in the city they won't even find the bits and pieces of food that
they can gather in the bush.'
Kassa was describing Liberia, but his words could just have easily been
applied to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Ivory Coast or
southern Sudan -- five trouble-plagued places, but all of them in
Africa. A few bloody weeks have seen a failed coup in Mauritania,
fighting for Liberia's wrecked capital, Monrovia, appalling inter-ethnic
violence around the eastern DRC town of Bunia, and violent suppression
of political protests in Zimbabwe.
It was not supposed to be like this. In the decade after the end of the
Cold War, the proxy wars of the United States and Soviet Union were
coming to an end, apartheid had breathed its last gasp and a new
generation of African leaders had been anointed who promised to
transform their continent. That dream they dubbed the African
Last week, however, amid the tales of horror, the impotence of UN
peacekeepers sent to keep a meaningless peace, amid the hunger,
mutilation and inevitable tragic columns of refugees, the question was
being repeatedly asked: what has happened to that promised African
First mooted as a concept by President Nelson Mandela at the
Organisation of African Unity's summit in Tunisia in 1994, the African
Renaissance has, however, been most associated with Mandela's successor,
Its crucial test was that set out by Jacob Zuma, South Africa's Deputy
Prime Minister, at the launch of its South African chapter when he
declared in 1999 that 'we will know that the African Renaissance has
been achieved once war and destruction are a mere chapter of Africa's
history rather than a daily reality'.
Would the African Renaissance succeed or would it go the way of the
other ideas of African transformation like Negritude, Pan-Africanism,
African Unity and African Socialism that were supposed to change the
African horizon but failed?
At first sight it appears already to have failed. For a summation of
Africa even by those -- like Kwame Owusu-Ampomah of Durban-Westville
University -- who believe in the idea of an African Renaissance makes
for grim reading. In a paper two years ago Owusu-Ampomah listed a litany
of familiar ills.
'At the turn of the twenty-first century,' he wrote, 'Africa continues
to waddle in poverty, disease, and ignorance, having long lost the
momentum of the socio-economic gains of the 1960s and the early 1970s.
Worse still, the continent is being ravaged by internal and
international conflicts, notwithstanding the scourge of Aids, with
devastating effects on life and property.'
It is a picture of gloom that is not alleviated by the bald tabulation
of a continent's woes. More than 30 wars in Africa since 1970 account
for 'more than half of all war-related deaths worldwide' and have been
responsible for between up to 9,5-million refugees, UN figures show.
The average African lives on less than two dollars a day;
three-quarters of the world's poorest countries are African. Growth
rates, after the economic gains of the Sixties and Seventies, were
negative in the Nineties.
The continent is also saddled with debt. Its apparently intractable
problems account for 75 per cent of the UN Security Council's
deliberations. Then finally there is the scourge of HIV, running at
infection rates of well over 30% in countries like Zimbabwe, whose
damage is economic and social as Aids has carved a swath through
Africa's skilled and educated classes.
The twin trajectories of the Africa of the twenty-first century are
signified by the 10-year anniversaries next year of two of the
continent's most significant recent events -- the first free and fully
inclusive elections in South Africa and the genocide in Rwanda.
What they represent is a continent's imperfect progress towards
democratisation of its societies, set against the warning of the most
terrible kind of war. They represent, too, both the palpable successes
of the African Renaissance and its bloody failings.
'Every decade some new idea emerges that is supposed to change Africa
for the better,' says Alex Vines, head of the Africa programme at the
Royal United Services Institute at Chatham House. 'At the beginning of
the Nineties everyone was talking about "good governance". Then we had
Baroness Chalker's model for multi-party democracy; now we have African
'The reality is there are some good things going on, but there are also
deepening problems. One of the really good developments has been in
terms of freedom of expression and the biggest single thing that has
helped has been the mobile phone, which in recent elections in Kenya,
Ghana and Senegal has had a significant impact in reducing electoral
fraud as people have been able to mobilise very quickly against it when
they see something funny going on. It has encouraged whistle-blowing.
'There have also been some democratic watershed elections as in Kenya,
where we see an entrenched leader like Daniel arap Moi being forced to
There have been other success stories in a similar vein. In Zambia,
when President Chiluba attempted to change the constitution to stand
again he was slapped down. Ghana is in the process of peaceful
transition from the Rawlings era. Angola, too, is at the beginning of a
decade of transition following the end of its long war.
It is in terms of its economic challenges that the African Renaissance
is having its greatest impact, not least in its argument that Africa has
been shamefully treated by trade restrictions and tariffs that, as
President Museveni of Uganda argued in Washington last week, meant that
Africa was subsidising Western trade.
'The point about African Renaissance is that it is a great grab bag of
ideas,' says Patrick Smith, editor of Africa Confidential . 'But its
economic arguments are the ones that are now quickly becoming the
'There are two points that come out of this: firstly that Western
agricultural subsidies are an international scandal, but that even with
their removal African farmers need to be helped to take advantage of
'It is exactly what Kwame Nkrumah (Prime Minister of Ghana) was arguing
50 years ago - that Africa needs to develop systems of manufacturing and
marketing if it is not to stay at the bottom of the pile. But finally
Africa seems to be winning the argument on this.'
The West -- and America's response in particular to this argument --
has been at best an imperfect response, as Smith argues, pointing out
that the much vaunted agreement by America to open its markets to
finished African textiles to the tune of $2-billion is highly
conditional and represents a drop in the ocean for the US textile
Smith argues, too, that it is the success of this kind of economic
reform that is crucial for stabilising Africa economically, politically,
and in terms of bringing an end to its wars. For its wars, as Smith
argues, recently have been as much about economic activity in failed
states as about tribal competitions.
'What people have to remember is that the armed militias of the kind we
are seeing in Congo at the moment are a business -- that war is business
and that is not just enough to pay fighters $30 to hand over their guns
if the fighter then does not have something economically useful to do.'
It is the long wars like that in Congo which cast the deepest and the
darkest shadows. These are wars that envelope all sectors of society,
where all are potential victims; all potentially incorporated into an
effort inimical to Africa's fragile civic societies. They are places
where the violence has gone on so long it has been part of daily life.
And it is a failure of leadership that goes beyond the African
Renaissance to implicate the West and the United Nations which have
allowed problems like Congo and Liberia to fester and whose solutions
have showed a lack of imagination. 'We are seeing a failure in Liberia
exactly the same as in Iraq,' Vines says. 'There is an agenda to remove
President Charles Taylor which was behind his indictment by the UN.
There is a fixation with his removal but no road map as to how Liberia
should proceed. It puts the country's future agenda in the hands of
Recent military interventions, more successfully by the largely British
forces in Sierra Leone and more equivocally by the French in Ivory
Coast, have shown how successful quick intervention can be in bringing
conflict to an end or stabilising a dangerous situation.
'The Congo is the greatest shame to the UN system,' Smith argues. 'If
the Permanent Five do not act with serious money and serious resolution,
with sufficient troops and logistics, it will simply go down the
What happens in the next few months in the DRC and Liberia may be the
test of the African Renaissance and the test, too, of whether the world
can usefully intervene in Africa for good. - Guardian Unlimited ©
Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003
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
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
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.
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.
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