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  • Christine Chumbler
    Al Qaeda Issue: Country Named As Five Suspects Were Flown Through Harare The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe) July 19, 2003 Posted to the web July 21, 2003
    Message 1 of 1046 , Jul 22, 2003
      Al Qaeda Issue: Country Named As Five Suspects Were Flown Through
      Harare

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      July 19, 2003
      Posted to the web July 21, 2003

      Christopher Jimu
      Lilongwe

      Contrary to reports that the five suspected members of the Al Qaeda
      network who were recently arrested in Malawi being taken to Botswana,
      The Chronicle has information that the suspects were taken to Zimbabwe
      aboard an Air Malawi chartered flight.

      According to sources, the five suspects and ten officials accompanying
      them arrived at Lilongwe International Airport in three vehicles at
      approximately 19.00 hours on July 23. The vehicles drove straight to the
      aircraft where the passengers boarded Air Malawi's ATR who travelled on
      an unscheduled flight No. QM 9141 to Harare.

      'They all went straight from the cars onto the aircraft,' the source
      said adding, 'No members of staff at the airport were able to see
      whether they were hand-cuffed or blindfolded because no-one was allowed
      on the tarmac at the airport.

      It has been learnt that the out-of-schedule flight was originally
      cleared to leave Blantyre for Lusaka, Zambia which destination was
      switched to Harare, Zimbabwe instead.

      'We do not know the reason why the flight was diverted from Lusaka to
      Harare but all arrangements had been made that this flight go to Zambia.
      Somehow arrangements were changed and the aircraft went to Harare. The
      staff in Blantyre were ready to make sure that the aircraft left for
      Lusaka,' said our source.

      According to information received the flight, QM 9141 left Lilongwe at
      19:35 pm on the night of June 23, the very same day the five were
      arrested.

      The plane landed in Harare an hour and ten minutes later at 20:45 pm.

      It is alleged that from Harare the five were flown directly to
      Guantanamo Bay in Cuba by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
      members.

      For reasons of security, The Chronicle has reserved the right to
      publish the names of the captain and his crew of three who were in
      charge of the flight.

      Efforts to talk to Air Malawi Chief Executive, Francis Pelekamoyo
      proved futile as he was out of office but the person who spoke on his
      behalf, Maxwell Serenje refused to comment on the issue.

      'You see the problem is that I am only acting on behalf of Mr.
      Pelekamoyo and it could be very difficult for me to comment on such an
      issue,' Serenje said.

      When contacted for comment, the Zimbabwe High Commissioner to Malawi
      Alice Nyazika told The Chronicle that Zimbwabwe was also trying to
      establish what happened following some media reports that the arrested
      people were taken to Harare.

      'Zimbabwe has no information about the arrival in Harare on board Air
      Malawi of the arrested people. The fact that they were put on a flight
      bound for Harare may be a cover story to cover the reality of what
      transpired,' said Nyazika in a reply through a questionaire dated July
      18.

      However Nyazika said that Zimbabwe High Commission in Malawi had
      nothing to do with the issue and neither did Harare have anything to do
      with the matter.

      'To suggest that Harare has some dealings with Washington in these
      matters is inconceivable and shows a lack of understanding of bilateral
      relations,' concluded Nyazika.

      The five arrested Al Qaeda suspects are Fahad Al Bahli, a Saudi
      National and Resident Director of the Registered Trustees of the Prince
      Sultan Ibn Aziz special committee on relief, Ibrahim Habaci, a Turkish
      national and Executive Director of Bedir International High School and
      another Turkish national Arif Ulusalam, owner of Instanbul Take Away
      Restaurant in Blantyre.

      Others are Mahmud Sardar Issa, a Sudanese who is the Director of the
      Islamic Zakaat Fund and a Kenyan national Khalifa Abdi Hassan a teacher
      at the Blantyre Islamic Mission at Chadzunda.

      The Chronicle was informed that the CIA raided the homes of the five
      suspects at 2 am on Saturday (June 22), shackled and blindfolded them
      and then whisked them away to the Blantye Police Station for
      questioning.

      In an interview on Capital Radio in Blantyre the outgoing American
      Ambassador Roger Meece denied American involvement in the arrests of the
      five suspects and has repeatedly indicated that the Embassy was unaware
      of any covert activities of the CIA in Malawi. Information received by
      The Chronicle from a source in the US indicates that the arrests were
      made after the CIA had furnished information on the suspects.

      Meece, on bidding farewell to the Malawi president on his conclusion of
      his diplomatic posting to Malawi commended President Bakili Muluzi for
      handing over the five suspects to America because, he said it showed how
      serious Malawi is in fighting terrorism.

      The arrest of the five incensed Muslims around the country who went on
      a rampage, destroying buildings belonging to Christians as well as
      attacking American sponsored international non governmental
      organisations. Concern has been expressed at the silence that has
      cloaked the incident despite repeated calls for the authorities of the
      two countries to make a statement on the issue.

      *****

      Bazuka Pens Tembo

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      July 19, 2003
      Posted to the web July 21, 2003

      Wezie Nyirongo
      Lilongwe

      The newly elected Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Secretary General, Bazuka
      Mhango has critiqued the resolution that John Tembo, who was elected
      party president at the convention held in Blantyre also stand as the
      presidential candidate in next years' general election. The Chronicle
      has established that Mhango, a seasoned lawyer, has written to Tembo
      informing him that he is not able to stand as the presidential candidate
      for the party pending his outcome of a criminal case against him.

      The matter of Tembo automatically standing as the presidential
      candidate also sparked debate and raised questions at the recent MCP
      convention held at the Natural Resources College (NRC) in Lilongwe when
      the party's Legal Advisor Louis Chimango introduced the issue before
      delegates drawn from all the three regions in the country.

      The party failed to elect the presidential candidate and the running
      mate at the convention held at Motel Paradise in Blantyre due to the
      fracas which erupted soon after announcing that Tembo had emerged the
      winner for the party's presidency.

      The Chronicle has been reliably informed that in the letter to Tembo ,
      Mhango has informed Tembo that as long as the case is still in court he
      (Tembo) is not able to lead the party as the presidential candidate for
      the general elections until judgement has been rendered.

      When contacted for comment Mhango was reported to be out of the
      office.

      However, when The Chronicle was going to bed information had it that
      the party's National Executive was convening a meeting which was held at
      an undisclosed venue in Lilongwe where the issue of Tembo being the
      presidential candidate was high on the agenda. The meeting was supposed
      to discuss a way forward of the party in readiness for next year's
      tripartite elections and also discuss if there is need to get into
      alliance with other opposition parties.

      Tembo could not be reached for comment on whether he had received the
      notification letter form the Secretary General Bazuka Mhango advising
      him on the danger.

      MCP newly elected deputy Publicity Secretary Steve Ching'ang'a
      confirmed to The Chronicle that Mhango had indeed written to Tembo but
      he could not comment further saying he would first read the letter and
      comment later.

      'Yes, its true that Mhango has written to Tembo but I have not actually
      seen the copy of the letter. I will be able to comment when I read the
      contents of the letter,' said Ching'ang'a.Ma teacher at the Blantyre
      Islamic Miss

      Tembo is charged with contempt of court for holding a convention which,
      according to the court was illegal. Following the development Tembo has
      lost his parliamentary seat together with the now deputy secretary
      general Kate Kainja.

      At the NRC, delegates agreed to endorse Tembo and Gwanda Chakuamba as
      the presidential candidate and running mate respectively. However it
      took the intervention of Chakuamba for the delegates to endorse Tembo as
      the presidential candidate when he announced that holding fresh
      elections for the presidential candidate would create another divisions
      in the party.

      Tembo in his closing address at the convention applauded Chakuamba for
      his intervention acknowledging that the delegates indeed wanted him
      (Chakuamba) to lead as the presidential candidate for the party in
      2004.

      'I applaud Chakuamba for refusing the demand from the delegates who
      wanted him to be the presidential candidate knowing that the party will
      go back to the old days when there were divisions and each leader had
      his own camp,' said Tembo.

      This though, did not go well with the delegates. One of the delegates
      who opted for anonymity said to The Chronicle 'This issue is not
      through. We will further discuss it at the NEC because we can't let
      someone with an obvious criminal record be the presidential candidate.'

      *****

      Maulidi Contemplates Resignation

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      July 19, 2003
      Posted to the web July 21, 2003

      Pilirani Phiri
      Lilongwe

      United Democratic Front (UDF) party Deputy Secretary General who is
      also the Minister of Justice, Paul Maulidi is contemplating resigning
      his party post as well as from cabinet because recently he has been
      side-lined by the UDF in making party decisions, The Chronicle has
      learnt.

      Maulidi's resignation, which a UDF source confiding to The Chronicle
      said would be made official in a week's time, will be the second one
      just a week after the resignation of the party's Treasurer General, and
      Minister of State in the President's Office responsible for Special
      Duties, Patrick Mbewe.

      Mbewe resigned after disagreeing with President Muluzi over the
      proposed amendment to the UDF Constitution that was altered to pave the
      way for the continued presence and influence over the party of Bakili
      Muluzi who would assume the position of the newly created office of
      *Chairman' after he leaves the president's office.

      Maulidi is currently in South Africa receiving medical treatment at one
      of the bigger South African clinics.

      The source confirmed that Maulidi intends to tender his resignation
      immediately he returns from South Africa. It was also revealed that a
      group of UDF MPs who gathered at Parliament Buildings last Tuesday were
      overheard discussing the issue of Maulidi's pending resignation. Most of
      the members said it would be a body blow to the party because it was so
      unexpected. 'It is true that Maulidi will resign and he has already
      informed the president about his idea. It seems that of late, he has
      been side-lined in the party and soon after returning from South Africa
      and after hearing the president's response he will make his resignation
      official," said the source adding, 'but you never know with politics,'
      without elaborating further.

      Paul Maulidi who is Member of Parliament for Blantyre North on behalf
      of the UDF, moved a motion in parliament to get rid of former MCP MPs
      John Tembo and Kate Kainja following their conviction in a contempt case
      where they were fined K200,000 each.

      Recently Paul Maulidi again moved a motion in parliament which saw Jan
      Sonke lose his UDF parliamentary seat following his resignation from the
      UDF party.

      However, despite all these, and other notable moves played by Maulidi
      for the UDF, he has taken a back seat in the party of late especially
      after his boss Katenga Kaunda, UDF's Secretary General got down to
      business after a long absence due to illness.

      Other sources in UDF revealed that Maulidi will resign because, just
      like Patrick Mbewe, he is also in opposition to Muluzi's hand picked
      successor Bingu wa Muthalika whom many in UDF say is new to the party
      and therefore not capable of leading it in the 2004 polls. Maulidi has
      also turned against the president and is now opposing Muluzi's plans to
      assume the post of UDF chairman.

      Maulidi, who was reported to be in South Africa as of last Friday
      receiving medical treatment, could not be reached for his comment as we
      went to press UDF's publicity secretary Ken Lipenga also could not be
      reached for comment as his phone was switched to voice mail.

      President Muluzi recently fired two district governors during a UDF
      caucus held at Sanjika Palace and snatched the party cars from them. He
      then ordered them to walk from the palace because the two were against
      the adoption of the new party constitution which accommodates Muluzi's
      chosen heir to contest for the UDF presidency in the 2004 general
      elections.

      *****

      UNICEF Drills Youth On HIV/Aids

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      July 19, 2003
      Posted to the web July 21, 2003

      Pilirani Phiri
      Lilongwe

      As the HIV/AIDS pandemic continues its devastation on the youth, the
      Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture last Friday organised a two day
      long Youth Life Skills Workshop in Lilongwe which aimed at giving the
      youth adequate information on the HIV/AIDS pandemic and preventive
      measures.

      Speaking during the official opening of the training programme the
      director of Youth Affairs in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture,
      Filimino Chatsalira said the training was part of a country-wide support
      project whose aim is to enhance life skills and HIV/AIDS preventive
      measures.

      'The youth of Malawi face a lot of social problems ranging from
      unemployment, illiteracy and lack of vocational skills. Some of them
      engage in excessive beer drinking and chamba smoking. It is for this
      reason that equipping them with adequate information on issues of
      HIV/AIDS and preventive measures is imperative," said Chatsalira He also
      said that stories of girls being harassed by their male teachers are
      rampant and it was the intention of the coarse to educate the girls on
      how to deal with such unwelcome advances from their male teachers.

      'This is a way of entrenching girls' rights to have a sexual
      relationship only with a person of their choice. Girls should possess
      the ability to be assertive," he said.

      Speaking in an interview, the Lilongwe District Youth officer Doreen
      Mbendera said training programme is a multi-country project whose aim is
      to scale up the prevention of HIV/AIDS among adolescents in the
      country.

      Mbendera said the factors contributing to the high infection rates of
      the HIV/AIDS pandemic among the youth, especially girls include the non
      supportive environment, the vulnerability of girls, poverty and
      misconceptions surrounding HIV/AIDS.

      Most of the participating girls and boys drawn from various youth
      organisations thanked UNICEF for funding the training, saying the course
      would help them gain relevant life skills as well as equip them with
      full information on HIV/AIDS and it's preventive measures.

      'I am eagerly looking forward to learn how I can control myself from
      contracting the pandemic and to equipped myself with the relevant life
      skills and with full information on HIV/AIDS. Also I want to understand
      special skills on decision making", said Diana Nyirongo of Youth On the
      Move (YOMU) Statistics show that more than half of the newly infected
      HIV/AIDS persons are young people aged between 15 and 24 years and it
      has been estimated that 13,480 girls in the country were HIV positive by
      the year 1999. The training programme was funded by UNICEF Malawi.

      *****

      Malawi Will Seek Joint Solutions in Elimination of Poverty - Justice
      Makuta

      The Post (Lusaka)

      July 21, 2003
      Posted to the web July 21, 2003

      Webster Malido
      Lusaka

      MALAWI will seek joint solutions in the elimination of ignorance and
      poverty, Malawi High Commissioner to Zambia justice Friday Makuta has
      said.

      During the commemoration of Malawi's 39th independence day at his
      residence in Lusaka yesterday, High Commissioner Makuta said his country
      would also strive to seek joint solutions in the fight against the
      HIV/AIDS scourge and other diseases.

      He said it was because of the need for joint efforts that a delegation
      from the Ministry of Health and Population in Malawi undertook a study
      tour on medical decentralisation in Zambia in February this year.

      High Commissioner Makuta said there had also been a number of
      reciprocal visits by senior government officials between Zambia and
      Malawi.

      He said the establishment of the Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique Growth
      Triangle was another sign of good co-operation between the two
      countries. High Commissioner Makuta said once the Chipata-Mchinji
      railway project is completed, Zambia would have a shorter route to the
      sea.

      "It will also help the transportation of bulky goods from one country
      to the other," High Commissioner Makuta said.

      "We all know that road transportation can be expensive and it is
      expected that transport of goods will be less costly by rail as a result
      of the extension."

      High Commissioner Makuta said Malawi appreciated the role that Zambia
      played in the liberation of its neighbours as well as that which it was
      still playing in finding peace in the Democratic Republic of Zambia. He
      said apart from sharing a common history, Zambia and Malawi shared the
      same border while its people were the same.

      "The Chewas of the Eastern Province of Zambia and the Chewas of Malawi
      have one paramount chief, Kalonga Gawa Undi of Katete," he said. During
      the same occasion, home affairs minister Lt. Gen. Ronnie Shikapwasha
      appealed to the people of Malawi to reflect on the road they had
      travelled in building their nation, especially after subjugation to
      autocratic rule for 31 years.

      "We salute your government and the people for demonstrating steadfast
      commitment and perseverance in the face of the difficult task of
      national development," Lt. Gen. Shikapwasha said.

      "This has only been made possible due to the peace and stability Malawi
      has enjoyed since independence." He said Zambia valued the mutual bonds
      of friendship and co-operation that exist between the two countries.

      Lt. Gen. Shikapwasha noted that the bilateral co-operation between the
      two countries cut across a wide spectrum of human endeavours. He said
      the two countries had also agreed to meet and conclude a memorandum of
      understanding on their participation in each other's trade fairs.

      Lt. Gen. Shikapwasha said the two countries had also continued to
      co-operate at various international fora such as the United Nations,
      African Union, Commonwealth, Southern African Development Community and
      the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.

      *****

      Zim opposition say they'll sit out Mugabe's speech

      Harare

      22 July 2003 13:13

      A top Zimbabwean opposition member of Parliament (MP) was arrested on
      Tuesday soon after his party announced MPs would not walk out on
      President Robert Mugabe's annual parliamentary opening speech.

      Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi,
      the MP who was arrested, said in a statement before his incarceration
      the decision was aimed at "reducing political tensions in the country so
      that an atmosphere conducive to dialogue can be created, with a view to
      amicable negotiations for a dignified exit for Mr Robert Mugabe".

      In return, the MDC expected Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF to end its
      harassment of the party, stop its campaign of violence and to restore
      law and order.

      Immediately after he issued the statement, Nyathi was ordered to
      present himself at Harare central police station where he was detained
      under recent legislation for allegedly ridiculing Mugabe, said David
      Coltart, the party's secretary for legal affairs.

      Nyathi was accused of publishing a disrespectful cartoon last month
      ahead of a five-day national strike to protest against Mugabe's rule.
      The cartoon showed a terrified Mugabe fleeing a mob of angry people.

      "Our decision [on Monday] was meant to be the test for Zanu-PF to
      respond to our gesture," Coltart said.

      "It's ironic that Paul should be arrested the very next day."

      The arrest came as heavily-armed paramilitary police ringed the city
      centre hours before the 79-year-old president was due to preside over
      the ceremonial annual opening of Parliament.

      The MDC's gesture was made amid mounting international diplomatic
      pressure on both parties to begin negotiations to end the country's
      crisis.

      Pressure was stepped up sharply on July 9 when United States President
      George Bush visited South Africa. He and South African President Thabo
      Mbeki agreed to make "urgent" efforts to end Zimbabwe's political and
      economic crisis.

      The day before the opening, the MDC said 11 of its candidates had been
      forcibly stopped by ruling party militias from formally registering for
      local government elections in urban areas around the country.

      Three would-be candidates, one of them with a broken neck, were in
      hospital after ruling party youths attacked them when they tried to
      register.

      In other areas, Mugabe supporters blocked roads leading to registration
      offices.

      The seats were then allocated to ruling party candidates because the
      MDC had "failed to contest them", Nyathi said in a statement on Monday
      night.

      The MDC, which has holds 54 seats in the 150 seat chamber against
      Zanu-PF's 64, was due to boycott Mugabe's address for a second time in
      two years, following his widely disputed victory in presidential
      elections in March last year.

      The MDC said the boycott was a symbolic refusal to recognise Mugabe,
      whose presidency the MDC, most Western governments and international
      election observers said was won through fraud, violent intimidation and
      laws that gave the ruling party almost total control of the running of
      the election.

      Nyathi said the decision by the MDC to drop its walk-out "does not in
      anyway change our position that Mugabe's position is disputed".

      A reception for MPs, leading national figures and the diplomatic corps,
      traditionally held at State House, Mugabe's official residence, the day
      before the opening of Parliament, was cancelled on Sunday with no
      reasons being given. It was also expected to be marred by a boycott by
      opposition MPs and Western diplomats.

      MDC sources said the party's decision to sit in the chamber through
      Mugabe's speech had been reached after lengthy negotiations between MDC
      vice president Gibson Sibanda and Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa.

      The sources said Chinamasa had agreed that authorities would stop
      arresting opposition MPs and allow them to attend report-back meetings
      in their constituencies.

      Most of the MDC's MPs have been arrested by police in the three years
      since they were elected, but in no cases have there been any successful
      prosecutions. In most cases, courts have dismissed the charges before
      trials could begin.

      Nyathi was last arrested in April for allegedly plotting to overthrow
      Mugabe. - Sapa

      *****

      Mugabe postpones lavish reception

      Harare

      21 July 2003 08:43

      President Robert Mugabe on Sunday postponed his usual reception before
      the opening of parliament this week, an event that some diplomats, civic
      leaders and opposition politicians had said they would boycott.

      The government said Mugabe's usual lavish reception that was to take
      place on Monday was "postponed to a date to be advised." However,
      military aircraft, horseback police and troops rehearsed for Tuesday's
      ceremonial opening of the parliament by Mugabe, which hadn't been
      cancelled.

      All invitations to Monday's event, including those to foreign
      diplomats, civic and business leaders and ruling party officials, were
      cancelled, it said. No reasons were given but opposition lawmakers, some
      diplomats and civic leaders said they would boycott it.

      Mugabe's support has plunged to its lowest as Zimbabwe faces its worst
      economic crisis since he led the nation to independence in 1980.
      Dwindling crowds have attended his recent ruling Zanu-PFparty rallies.

      Lawmakers of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change have in the
      past boycotted Mugabe's opening of parliament party and have walked out
      of the house when Mugabe began his opening speech.

      At the annual state opening of the parliament two years ago Mugabe,
      riding in an open, vintage Rolls Royce used by colonial era British
      governors, was jeered by protesters.

      Last year, police prevented demonstrations by sealing off the main
      square opposite the parliament building.

      Zimbabwe is suffering acute shortages of hard currency, imports such as
      gas, medicines and food. Fuel shortages have crippled industry and
      transportation.

      On the thriving black market, fuel and the staple, cornmeal, fetch five
      times the official price. The official exchange rate is 824 Zimbabwe
      dollars to the US dollar, but the American dollar buys up to Z$2 700 on
      the black market.

      Part of the deepening economic crisis is blamed on the state program
      that seized thousands of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution
      to black settlers.

      Foreign investment and aid has largely ended in protest of human rights
      abuses and the disputed presidential elections last year that gave
      Mugabe another six-year term in office. Zimbabwe's opposition and
      Britain, the European Union and the United States have refused to
      recognise the poll results, saying they appeared
      rigged.

      US Secretary of State Colin Powell has called for Mugabe to step down
      and end his rule of "tyranny" in Zimbabwe. Mugabe has been critical in
      return.

      According to the independent Daily News on Sunday newspaper, Mugabe
      surprised even his own supporters and the state media with remarks at a
      rally before US President George Bush's recent African trip.

      The newspaper said on Sunday it obtained a recording of Mugabe's speech
      at the rally in which he criticised pressure on his government by
      Britain, the former colonial ruler, and the United States.

      "They will never attempt to do here what they did in Iraq because it is
      their children who will be the first to die," Mugabe said, according to
      the newspaper, which translated his speech from the local Shona
      language.

      He did not elaborate. The remark was seen as a threat to whites and
      their children in Zimbabwe which was even suppressed by the state media
      in its reports of the rally, the paper said. - Sapa-AP

      *****

      Zimbabwe halts rent-a-corpse scam

      Two mortuary workers in Zimbabwe have been arrested for allegedly
      renting out corpses to motorists to enable them to buy fuel.
      Most service stations in Zimbabwe give preference in fuel queues to
      people with burial orders or those taking dead relatives for burial.

      The state-owned Herald newspaper reported that the two men were also
      accused of selling fake burial orders to motorists who then took the
      corpses to service stations.

      Police spokeswoman Cecilia Churu told the Associated Press the two
      workers were arrested on Thursday after security guards at the hospital
      in the town of Chitungwiza, 24 kilometres (15 miles) south of Harare,
      noticed a coffin being returned to the morgue.

      The two men are expected to appear in court on charges of violating
      dead bodies.

      The fuel situation is a symptom of the country's economic crisis. Fuel
      prices have gone up 600% since February.

      Mile-long queues are the result, and a further burden on hard-pressed
      businesses already under pressure by the combination of rampant
      inflation, an unrealistic exchange rate and government price controls
      which have worsened shortages instead of easing them.

      Zimbabwe has been suffering a serious fuel shortage since November when
      a barter deal with Libya collapsed.

      *****

      IMF in Zambia crisis talks

      The Zambian Government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have
      begun a week of talks, aimed at resolving a month-long stand-off over
      fiscal policy.
      The IMF in June suspended a $100m (£63m) poverty-reduction credit after
      Zambia unveiled an unexpected and unexplained $125m budget deficit.

      The Fund is concerned that Zambia's external position could become
      unsustainable, given its $6.8bn of foreign debt.

      Without a reconciliation with the IMF, Zambia will find it hard to keep
      on terms with international lenders, many of which see the Fund as a
      benchmark.

      Bitter fall-out

      The extra expenditure in Zambia's budget will almost double its deficit
      - to 3% of gross domestic product, from the previous target of 1.55%.

      The falling-out with the IMF is likely to make the deficit worse still,
      as Zambia becomes ever more estranged from its foreign lenders and
      donors.

      The currency, the kwacha, is likely to be hit in turn by the increased
      demand for dollars to pay for imports.

      Worst of all, some worry that the government will postpone or cancel
      crucial investment projects, thereby lowering Zambia's potential for
      future economic growth.

      Compromise promised

      The severe consequences of a prolonged break in relations make it
      likely that the IMF will come to terms this week.

      The Fund is believed likely to agree to disburse at least some of the
      $100m.

      For its part, the Zambian Government has shown itself willing to at
      least contemplate some spending cuts.

      The government is currently standing firm in the face of strikes by
      civil servants and other public-sector workers who are demanding higher
      salaries.
    • 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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