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  • Christine Chumbler
    Malawi terror suspects block exile By Raphael Tenthani BBC, Blantyre A Malawi court has ordered the authorities not to deport five alleged al-Qaeda members.
    Message 1 of 1046 , Jun 23, 2003
      Malawi terror suspects block exile

      By Raphael Tenthani
      BBC, Blantyre

      A Malawi court has ordered the authorities not to deport five alleged
      al-Qaeda members.
      The five foreign nationals were arrested over the weekend.

      Sources privy to the operation told BBC News Online that they were
      arrested in a joint operation by the American Central Intelligence
      Agency (CIA) and Malawi's National Intelligence Bureau (NIB).

      Blantyre lawyer Shabir Latif told High Court judge Justice Healey
      Potani that his clients were arrested without being told what crime they
      had allegedly committed.

      "They were treated without dignity as they were handcuffed,
      blind-folded and transferred to Lilongwe where they are being kept in an
      unknown location and are said to be awaiting deportation to an unknown
      destination on suspicion of being members of al-Qaeda," he said.

      Mr Latif alleged that the Malawi Government wants to hand over the five
      to the CIA who would - according to him - take them to Guantanamo Bay
      detention camp in Cuba where other al-Qaeda suspects - especially those
      arrested in Afghanistan - are being detained.

      "Security officers without a warrant searched their houses and seized
      their computers and confiscated their money," he said.

      Charities

      The lawyer described the methods used in the arrest of the five as
      "unconstitutional and unlawful for it violates the right to freedom of
      movement, the right of all people not to be discriminated against on
      grounds of race or origin or nationality".

      Justice Potani, in his order granting the injunction, ordered the
      government to bring the five detainees before a court of law within 48
      hours to be told of their offence under Malawi laws or any international
      legal instruments or release them on bail.

      The Directorate of Public Prosecutions has since indicated that it
      would challenge the injunction.

      The arrested al-Qaeda suspects include:

      Mahmud Sardar Issa, a Sudanese national who heads the charitable
      Islamic Zakat Fund Trust in Blantyre;
      Fahad Ral Bahli, a Saudi national who is Malawi Branch Director of the
      Registered Trustees of the Prince Sultan Bin Aziz Special Committee on
      Relief;
      Turkish nationals Arif Ulusam, a Blantyre restaurant owner, and Ibrahim
      Itabaci, executive director of Bedir International School;
      Kenyan national Khalifa Abdi Hassan, an Islamic scholar hired by the
      Moslem Association of Malawi.
      According to the sources, al-Qaeda wanted to use their charitable
      organisations to channel money from Asia - where al-Qaeda is based - to
      fund operations in Africa and beyond.

      *****

      Wanted: cash for Tsvangirai's bail

      Harare

      23 June 2003 12:21

      Zimbabwe's main opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
      on Monday launched an appeal for help in raising the steep bail set last
      week for the release of its leader Morgan Tsvangirai, charged with
      treason.

      "The president of the MDC was granted bail of 10-million (Zimbabwean)
      dollars on Friday. Given the limited resources that the party is
      operating on it has become necessary for the party to appeal to all
      Zimbabweans to assist ...to pay this amount," said an ad published in
      the independent Daily News.

      Tsvangirai was arrested on June 6, the last day of week-long
      anti-government protests organised by his party, and charged with
      treason for allegedly inciting Zimbabweans to violently oust the
      government of President Robert Mugabe.

      Four days later a magistrates court charged him with treason -- the
      second such charge brought against the MDC leader -- and he was ordered
      to be held in custody for one month.

      Treason is punishable by death in Zimbabwe.

      Tsvangirai's lawyers were given leave to apply for bail, but that
      hearing dragged on and Tsvangirai had spent 14 nights in prison before a
      High Court judge set his very stringent bail conditions and he was
      released on Friday.

      In addition to the 10-million-Zimbabwean dollars (US$12 500) bail, the
      court ordered Tsvangirai not to make "any statement that advocates the
      removal of the government or the state president by violence" and to
      lodge title deeds for property worth 100-million Zimbabwean dollars with
      the court.

      "We remain firmly of the view that Mr Tsvangirai is innocent," the
      advertisement said.

      "He is being persecuted for fighting for justice and peace in Zimbabwe.
      He is being persecuted for fighting for the people of Zimbabwe to have
      enough food. We also believe that the state seeks to kill the MDC
      through excessive bail payouts and legal fees."

      The MDC blames Mugabe's regime for exacerbating Zimbabwe's economic and
      social woes through misgovernance, and had called on Zimbabweans to
      protest against the government by not going to work and by holding
      "peaceful marches for democracy."

      Some 70% of Zimbabwe's workforce is unemployed, annual inflation
      exceeded 300%last month, and nearly half the country's 11,6-million
      people are threatened by famine caused by a drought and chaotic land
      reforms.

      The work stoppages called for by the MDC were generally well followed
      in the southern African country's cities, but attempts to hold marches
      were put down, often forcibly, by security forces and pro-Mugabe militia
      groups.

      Tsvangirai faces another charge of treason, along with two key members
      of his party, for allegedly plotting to eliminate Mugabe ahead of the
      2001 presidential poll, which Mugabe won.

      The three deny the charges. A treason trial involving the three has
      been underway since February. - Sapa-AFP

      *****

      Mugabe opponent vows to fight on

      Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he will continue to
      challenge President Robert Mugabe despite being accused of treason.
      He told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that he would not be
      deterred from peaceful protests.

      Mr Tsvangirai was released on bail on Friday after being held in
      custody following his latest arrest on charges of treason for allegedly
      advocating the overthrow of Mr Mugabe.

      He denies the accusations.

      'Jail scandal'

      Mr Tsvangirai also spoke in the interview about his two-week detention.


      He said he was held in an overcrowded cell with 75 other people.

      "They have very little food and their health condition is
      deteriorating," Mr Tsvangirai said of the people with whom he had been
      held.

      It was "a scandal yet to explode", he said.

      But he said he was treated like other inmates, and was neither molested
      not harassed.

      Mr Tsvangirai has a high profile as the leader of the opposition
      Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). He was detained after a week of
      mass protests organised by the MDC against President Mugabe.

      He was freed on bail of 10 million Zimbabwe dollars (US$13,000 at the
      official exchange rate).

      A judge told him that he must not "incite his supporters to remove the
      government through violence", or he would violate his bail conditions
      and risk being returned to jail.

      Mr Tsvangirai told Focus on Africa that the opposition's campaign would
      remain peaceful.

      "We have no intention of overthrowing anybody," he said.

      'Negotiations wanted'

      Mr Tsvangirai has already been charged with two counts of treason over
      an alleged plot to assassinate Mr Mugabe. His trial on those charges
      began in February.

      He denies all treason charges against him, which carry the death
      penalty.

      The MDC leader says he called this month's protests to try to force the
      president to negotiate as the country falls into economic and political
      chaos.
      lere given leave to appl
      In March 2002, Mr Tsvangirai challenged Mr Mugabe for the presidency,
      but lost in an election widely seen as fraudulent.
    • Christine Chumbler
      ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17 The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22, 2006

        ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract

        by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17

        The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by government to look for another contractor instead of China Hunan Construction to construct of the long awaited Karonga/Chitipa road.

        China Hunan from Mainland China won the bid which was approved by the ADB but government later wanted to award the contract to a Portuguese firm, Mota Engil, the second lowest bidder, claiming China Hunan's bid was unrealistically low and that the company had very little experience in Africa.

        Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe confirmed on Sunday the ADB rejected the proposal at a meeting held between the bank and Malawi government in Tunisia last week.

        The Malawi government wanted the Tunisia meeting to authorise it to get another contractor for the road, said Gondwe.

        "They did not allow us to look for another contractor because of their regulations. But we are about to get another alternative for Karonga/Chitipa and I would be surprised if it does not start before end June," said Gondwe.

        The minister explained that the bank insisted that regardless of the unrealistic cost estimates, China Hunan should be allowed to go ahead with the construction.

        But Gondwe could not give further details about the alternatives, arguing there are still a few loose ends to tighten up before disclosing it.

        The problem with China Hunan, according to Gondwe, is that it would require more money to meet the total cost of the project.

        This paper reported last week that government met Taiwanese representatives where they offered to fund the road if the ADB continued to reject its favoured contractor, Mota Engil.

        Gondwe could neither confirm nor deny the reports on the Taiwanese offer, saying government was looking at a number of ways to handle the issue.

        According to Gondwe, the China Hunan's bid was 24 percent lower than the consulting engineers' estimates of K7.9 billion and 34 percent below the second lowest bidder.

        President Bingu wa Mutharika laid a foundation stone for the construction of the road this year ahead of a crucial byelection in Chitipa in December last year.

        The President's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the Chitipa Wenya constituency by-election that fell vacant following the collapse and subsequent death of Speaker of Parliament Rodwell Munyenyembe who belonged to the UDF.

        Last week, police and the District Commissioner (DC) for Chitipa stopped a rally that was aimed at soliciting people's views about development projects in the district.

        The meeting, which was reportedly organised by Concerned Citizens of Chitipa, was among other things also supposed to tackle the controversial Karonga/Chitipa road.

        The project failed to start off in 2000 when a contract for an initial loan of US$17 million and US$15 million from the Taiwanese government was signed, with some quarters claiming the Bakili Muluzi administration diverted the money to another road.

        *****

        Chihana operated on

        by Edwin Nyirongo, 22 May 2006 - 06:32:31

        Alliance for Democracy (Aford) president Chakufwa Chihana, who is in South Africa receiving treatment, had a brain operation on Friday at Garden City Clinic, family and party officials confirmed on Sunday.

        Aford national chairman Chipimpha Mughogho said he was told by the family members that Chihana had a successful operation on Friday and was put in an intensive care unit.

        Mughogho said Chihana, who initially complained of headache, was found with a brain tumour which South African doctors removed.

        Mzimba West MP Loveness Gondwe said Aford boss condition was stable.

        "Hon. Chihana had a major operation and after that he was put in the intensive care unit but his condition is stable. I do not know where he was operated on but it had something to do with the skull," she said.

        Deputy Information Minister John Bande referred the matter to the Health Minister Hetherwick Ntaba who was reported to be in Geneva, Switzerland.

        Aford publicity secretary Norman Nyirenda said when Chihana's situation got worse, the family alerted the Office of the President and Cabinet who took him to Mwaiwathu Private Hospital.

        "The doctors at Mwaiwathu advised that he should be sent to South Africa and they even identified the doctor for him," he said.

        He said the costs are being met by the Malawi government, contradicting his earlier statement that his boss covered the cost.

        Mughogho is now in charge of the party.

        Gondwe will be a busy person when Parliament starts meeting on June 6 as she is the only Aford MP remaining.

        *****

        Pillane proposes presidential age limit

        by Emmanuel Muwamba , 22 May 2006 - 06:34:13

        A member of the DPP National Governing Council Abdul Pillane on Saturday urged members of political parties and the civil society to put an upper age limit in the Constitution for presidential candidates.

        Pillane was addressing members of political parties and civil society in Liwonde during a two-day follow up workshop to the National Conference on the Review of Constitution held in March in Lilongwe.

        "My view is that (an upper) age limit should be at 75. We have to give a chance to younger people to lead because in circumstance, when you age you become forgetful especially when sickly," said Pillane. "Overall, chances should be given to young people."

        But UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala, whose party members agitated for the age limit during presentations, played the issue down.

        "I feel there is no logic to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates. If someone is 90 or 80 I don't know how that can influence the electorate not to vote for someone who is younger, I don't see any logic behind that," said Makwangwala.

        MCP participants at the workshop also vehemently objected to the proposal.

        MCP vice president Nicholas Dausi in an interview said: "There is no constitution in Africa which stipulates an upper age limit. So it would be strange in Malawi to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates."

        MDP President Kamlepo Kalua also opposed the need to have an upper age limit.

        "If we have personalities in mind that we want to discriminate against then it is unfortunate. The constitution we want to build is a guiding document for future generations and it should not bar certain individuals on the basis of grudges," he said.

        The Malawi Law Constitution Issues Paper of March 2006 says several submissions that were received put an upper presidential age limit in the Constitution.

        "It is argued that it is common sense that mental knowledge faculties tend to fail with age. As regards what the actual age limit should be the submissions are far from being agreed. The range is from 60 years to 80 years," read submissions in the Issues Paper.

        On whether MPs should double as ministers, Kalua said this should be the case.

        Makwangwala also said it is not right for MPs to serve as ministers because the Legislature, another arm of government, is reduced while the Executive branch is beefed up from another arm of government.

        "There is no separation of powers when MPs double as ministers," said Makwangwala.

        But Pillane said there is no problem for MPs to work as ministers as well, saying MPs are elected by the President.

        "One can serve both posts. There have been no problems before for people to double," said Pillane.

        The Centre for Multiparty Democracy funded the workshop through the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.

        The objective was to come up with a collective position on the Issues Paper which will be presented to the Special Law Commission that will be constituted soon.

        *****

        Mussa hails new driving licence

        by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:58:52

        Transport and Public Works Minister Henry Mussa last week said the design of the Malawi-Sadc driving licence would guard against forgery and ensure that only skilled and legitimate drivers of particular vehicles are licensed.

        Mussa was speaking at the official launch of the licences in Lilongwe where he announced that traffic police would from July enforce speed limits and sober driving using Breathalysers which his ministry is in the process of procuring.

        The minister said financial constraints are the reason for the delay in procuring the equipment but assured that by July they would be available.

        "With the new equipment, the days of those who believe in the thrill of drink and driving are numbered," warned Mussa.

        Mussa added that with the new licence, government is optimistic that the country's roads would be safe.

        Acting Director of Road Traffic James Chirwa said the features that distinguish the new from the old licences are the Malawi national flag and a ghost image of the driver's photograph, among others.

        Those with old licences, according to Chirwa, are expected to get the new ones after the expiry of the former.

        *****

        UDF demands investigation on Kasambara

        by Rabecca Theu, 22 May 2006 - 06:30:46

        The United Democratic Front (UDF) has asked government to investigate Ralph Kasambara on allegations of abuse of office while he was attorney general.

        UDF publicity secretary Sam Mpasu told the press Sunday that the party is neither amused or saddened by the removal of the former AG but asked government to institute investigations on Kasambara.

        "Beyond the removal of the Attorney General, we now urge President Mutharika to institute investigation against Mr Kasambara into allegations that have made rounds in the public domain during the recent past. These include: Mrs Helen Singh and SS Rent-a-Car; SGS and ITS saga; ...........the use of Malawi Police Service in the arrest of three Chronicle journalists and the handling of Mrs Rubina Kawonga," said Mpasu.

        Mpasu also accused Kasambara of awarding government contracts to Lawson and Company where he was a senior partner.

        "We urge government to thoroughly investigate the former AG. We also ask government to cautiously select the new AG ," said Mpasu, who was accompanied by the party's Secretary General Kennedy Makwangwala, leader of the party in Parliament George Mtafu, chief whip Leonard Mangulama and a member of the executive Hophmally Makande.

        But Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati said UDF should give offer its advice to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB).

        "They should advise bodies like the Anti-Corruption Bureau to conduct the investigations and why are they saying this now? Is it because Kasambara has been fired? This is not a personal issue. If they have other pressing issues they should just say so. These arguments should have come up earlier on when the said cases were happening," she said.

        Kasambara asked UDF to proceed with the mission of urging government to investigate him.

        "They can do their job. Everyone has a right to lobby for anything they want in the country. UDF has a right to do that, let them go ahead," he said.

        Kasambara was relieved of his duties as AG by the President last week. Government has not given reasons behind the removal.

        *****

        Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land

        The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

        May 18, 2006

        Posted to the web May 19, 2006

        Andrew Lungu

         

        MALAWIANS who have encroached on both the 'no-man's' and part of the Zambian land at the Mwami border in Eastern Province have plucked out some beacons that were used in the demarcation of the border.

        The Malawians are now using the beacons as stools in their newly-established villages on Zambian land.

        Eastern Province Minister, Boniface Nkhata, said in Chipata yesterday that if the situation was not controlled urgently, Zambia would lose huge tracts of land to Malawians migrating into Zambian in large numbers.

        A check at the Zambia-Malawi border showed a number of beacons had been vandalised and new structures constructed on the 'no man's' land and a large portion of Zambian land.

        Mr Nkhata said the trend extended to many parts of the province bordering the two countries.

        "A large portion of Zambian land has been taken up by the Malawians starting from the Chama boundary up to the Mwami border.

        "The weighbridge at the Mwami border was initially in Zambia from the time both countries gained independence from Britain, but now the bridge is on Malawian soil," Mr Nkhata said.

        The minister, who is former Chama District Commissioner, said there was similar encroachment in Lundazi and Chama districts where Zambia shares a boundary with Malawi.

        He said a Malawian farmer identified as Mr Mfune had cultivated 71.5 hectares on Zambian land and employed about 265 Malawian workers.

        "Khombe Farm in Chama district in Kanyerere's area, along the Muyombe road which leads to Northern Province where this Malawian farmer has cultivated a vast land is on the Zambian territory," he said.

        Workers on the farm admitted that they were farming on Zambian soil but could not go back to Malawi because the land in that country was inadequate for cultivation.

        Mr Nkhata appealed to the ministry of Lands to urgently release money for the demarcation of the Zambia-Malawi border to avoid further land disputes between the two countries.

        Meanwhile, the Immigration Department in Livingstone has arrested a couple and another man, all Zimbabweans, for working in Zambia without permits.

        They were arrested at Gwembe village yesterday where they worked for Into Africa, a tour operating company that provides bush dinners and breakfast.

        According to the Immigration Department in Livingstone, the trio entered Zambia through the Victoria Falls border as visitors but decided to work for the company illegally.

        Last week, immigration officers arrested 10 Zimbabwean traders and six Ethiopians for entering and staying in Zambia illegally.

        The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.

        The Ethiopians were arrested at Konje Guest House when they ran out of money to proceed to Botswana.

         

        *****

        Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests

        Harare, Zimbabwe

        22 May 2006 11:51

        Zimbabwe's biggest labour federation on Saturday threatened to call massive demonstrations against the government over poor salaries and worsening living conditions for workers in the country.

        The threats are ratcheting up pressure against President Robert Mugabe's government after similar threats by the biggest opposition party in the country, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), about two months ago.

        Speaking at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) conference on Saturday, the labour body's president, Lovemore Matombo, said the powerful union wants the government to award workers salaries that match the country's ever-rising inflation.

        "I can assure you we will stage massive demonstrations to force them [employers] to award workers minimum salaries that tally with the poverty datum line," said Matombo.

        Matombo did not say when exactly the ZCTU would order workers to strike.

        Opposition protests

        Meanwhile, the MDC on Sunday said it will push ahead with plans for anti-government protests, saying victory in a key by-election at the weekend was a "sign the electorate supported its policies", including democratic mass resistance.

        A spokesperson of the main faction of the splintered MDC, Nelson Chamisa, said victory over Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF and a rival MDC faction in a Saturday by-election in Harare's Budiriro constituency is a sign Zimbabweans still have confidence in party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his policies.

        Tsvangirai, the founding leader of the MDC, heads the main rump of the opposition party whose candidate, Emmanuel Chisvuure, polled 7 949 votes to win the Budiriro House of Assembly seat.

        Gabriel Chaibva of the other faction of the MDC, led by prominent academic Arthur Mutambara, garnered 504 votes while Zanu-PF's Jeremiah Bvirindi polled 3 961 votes.

        "This election showed that the electorate still has confidence in the MDC [Tsvangirai-led] leadership and its policies," Chamisa told independent news service ZimOnline.

        He added: "We will now move to consolidate our position * we still believe in mass protests. Until we have attained our goals we see no reason why we should abandon [plans for protests]."

        Tsvangirai has threatened to call mass protests this winter against Mugabe and his government. He says the mass protests, whose date he is still to name, are meant to force Mugabe to relinquish power to a government of national unity to be tasked to write a new and democratic Constitution that would ensure free and fair elections held under international supervision.

        Mugabe and his government, who had hoped for victory in Budiriro to show they were recapturing urban support from a splintered MDC, have not taken idly the opposition's threats to call mass protests, with the veteran president warning Tsvangirai he would be "dicing with death" if he ever attempted to instigate a Ukraine-style popular revolt in Zimbabwe.

        Crackdown

        In a fresh crackdown against dissension, the police last week arrested several church and civic leaders for organising public prayers and marches to mark last year's controversial home-demolition exercise by the government.

        The police also banned the marches and prayers, fearing they could easily turn into mass protests against Mugabe and his government.

        However, the marches went ahead in the second-largest city of Bulawayo after organisers had obtained a court order barring the police from stopping the march.

        Political analysts say although Zimbabweans have largely been cowed by Mugabe's tactics of routinely deploying riot police and the military to crush street protests, worsening hunger and poverty are fanning public anger that Tsvangirai -- with proper planning and organisation -- could easily manipulate.

        Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe six-year old economic crisis that has seen inflation breaching the 1 000% barrier. Last year, the World Bank said Zimbabwe's economic crisis was unprecedented for a country not at war.

        The MDC and major Western governments blame Mugabe for wrecking the country's economy, which was one of the strongest in Africa at independence from Britain 26 years ago.

        Mugabe denies the charge blaming the crisis on sabotage by Britain and her allies after he seized white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks six years ago.

        The Harare authorities recently hiked salaries for civil servants, with the lowest-paid soldier now earning about Z$27-million while the lowest-paid school teacher now takes home about Z$33-million.

        But the salaries are still way below the poverty datum line, which the government's Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says now stands at a staggering Z$42-million a month for an average family of six.

        The Zimbabwe government often accuses the ZCTU, a strong ally of the MDC, of pushing a political agenda to remove Mugabe from power.

        Meanwhile, Matombo and Lucia Matibenga retained their posts as president and first vice-president respectively during the ZCTU congress that ended on Saturday. -- ZimOnline

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