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  • Christine Chumbler
    Malawi parliament expels MPs Malawi s parliamentary speaker has expelled a high profile former government minister and seven other former members of the
    Message 1 of 1046 , Aug 5, 2003
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      Malawi parliament expels MPs

      Malawi's parliamentary speaker has expelled a high profile former
      government minister and seven other former members of the governing
      party for setting up an opposition party.

      Former education minister Brown Mpinganjira announced on Sunday the
      formation of his new group, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to
      thousands of supporters.

      But the parliamentary speaker, David Katsonga, said he and three other
      MPs were elected as members of the governing party and so could not
      belong to the NDA and remain in parliament.

      Mr Mpinganjira hails from the south of the country - a ruling party
      stronghold - and is expected to perform strongly there in next year's
      elections.

      Illegal dismissal

      Mr Katsonga has also expelled four more MPs from the Alliance for
      Democracy party for violating the constitution by leaving the opposition
      and forming the breakaway Genuine Alliance for Democracy (GAFORD).

      The MPs have contravened article 65 of the constitution which bars
      members of parliament from changing their political affiliation, Mr
      Katsonga said.

      Mr Mpinganjira, a former close aide of President Bakili Muluzi, told
      the BBC's Network Africa programme that he thought the government felt
      threatened because the NDA was, as he put it, growing like a bush fire
      and that it was "illegal for the speaker to dismiss" them from the
      parliament.

      "The section 65 which they are using now is one which is being
      challenged by everybody in this country.

      "The constitution guarantees every Malawian the freedom to associate
      whichever way they want," he said.

      He accused UDF of double standards and of "devising means and ways of
      destroying the NDA", before the third multi-party elections expected in
      May 2004.

      "Not allowed"

      Mr Katsonga told AFP that the four had originally belonged to President
      Muluzi's ruling party in the country's 1999 general elections.

      "They cannot be allowed to belong to the NDA and still be in
      parliament," Katsonga said.

      The other three NDA members sacked from the parliament with Mr
      Mpinganjira were named as the chairman James Makhumula and senior
      officials Grasham Naura and Peter Chupa.

      President Muluzi is not standing for a third term and has endorsed his
      economic planning minister Bingu wa Mutharika - who also hails from the
      same area as Mr Mpinganjira.

      *****

      Opposition Figure Bows Out of Presidential Race

      The East African Standard (Nairobi)

      August 4, 2003
      Posted to the web August 4, 2003

      Nairobi

      A major Malawi opposition figure announced today he would not run in
      next year's presidential elections, saying he would instead put his
      support behind the ruling party's candidate.

      The decision by Chakufwa Chihana, the maverick leader of the opposition
      party Alliance for Democracy, has angered many in his party who say they
      were not consulted in the decision.

      Chihana and five of his party members have been criticised for recently
      accepting Cabinet posts in President Bakili Muluzi's government - a move
      some analysts said was intended to neutralise the Opposition.

      Chihana is currently second vice-president in the government.

      He made his decision not to run for president at a political rally in
      the north of the country, standing alongside Muluzi.

      Chihana ran and lost twice to Muluzi in past elections. Now he says he
      and his party would endorse Muluzi's appointed successor, economist
      Bingu wa Mutharika, at the polls.

      "It does not make any political sense to contest again," Chihana said.

      *****

      US Denies Involvement in Arrest of Terrorism Suspects

      African Church Information Service

      August 4, 2003
      Posted to the web August 4, 2003

      Hamilton Vokhiwa
      Lilongwe

      The American government has rejected reports that its secret agents
      were behind an operation in which five foreign Muslims were abducted in
      June and flown out of Malawi, after they were suspected of having been
      agents of the Al Qaeda terrorist organisation.

      American Ambassador to Malawi, Roger Meece, recently told a news
      conference marking the end of his three-year tour in Malawi, that it was
      the Government of Malawi that took action against the five terror
      suspects, and not American agents.

      The five included two Turkish nationals, a Sudanese, a Saudi and a
      Kenyan, and were working in religious, educational and charitable
      sectors in the country. They were Fahdi al Bahli, Dr Ibrahim Itabaci,
      Arif Ulusam, Sheikh Mahmud Issa and Sheikh Khalif Hussein.

      This was the first public comment by a senior American government
      official, following widespread media reports that the five suspects were
      arrested in Blantyre in the early hours of June 21, by American secret
      agents in a joint operation with Malawian intelligence and security
      officials. The arrests happened just before the visit of United States
      President, George Bush, to Africa.

      Until now, there has been no explanation by Malawi Government officials
      about who was behind the secret arrests.

      The only comments came from President Bakili Muluzi, who told the
      British Broadcasting Corporation early last month that there was nothing
      that his Government could do but play its part in the international
      campaign against terrorism, in keeping with its obligations to the
      United Nations convention against global terrorism.

      President Muluzi pointed out that Malawi was a signatory of the Geneva
      Convention against terrorism.

      The five terror suspects, who had been resident in Malawi for several
      years, were flown out of the country to an unknown destination as their
      lawyers petitioned the High Court of Malawi for their release.

      However, latest reports indicate that the Kenyan suspect (Hussein) is
      safely back in Kenya, after having been taken to Zimbabwe and Sudan.

      *****

      Religious Leaders Condemn Harassment of Journalists

      African Church Information Service

      August 4, 2003
      Posted to the web August 4, 2003

      Hobbs Gama
      Blantyre

      The Public Affairs Committee (PAC), a grouping of various ecumenical
      organisations in Malawi, has condemned violation of press freedom, and
      called on politicians in the ruling party to arrest culprits involved in
      the recent harassment of a journalist from a leading independent
      newspaper.

      On July 7, members of the youth wing of the ruling United Democratic
      Front (UDF) called Young Democrats, seriously injured Daniel Nyirenda, a
      photojournalists from the Nation newspaper.

      Nyirenda was taking pictures of a fracas among divided party officials
      at a UDF mini-convention to launch the newly revised party's
      constitution, in Blantyre, when the youths descended upon him as they
      chased away journalists from private media houses.

      Nyirenda was admitted for more than a week at the Queen Elizabeth
      Central Hospital. He lost two cameras and a cell-phone.

      PAC chairman, Monsignor Boniface Tamani, echoing other interest groups'
      sentiments over intimidation of journalists from the independent media
      ahead of the May 2004 elections, demanded that UDF must ensure justice
      was done by bringing to book the violent youths of the Young Democrats.

      "The party has a duty to surrender those people that beat up the
      journalists, to police. I'm sure they know the people who were involved
      in this," charged Tamani.

      The party has since admitted the negative impact of the violent
      behaviour of its youth, assuring journalists that they will be protected
      in future UDF meetings. "It is only a group of thick-headed members of
      the Young Democrats who are bruising the image of the party. We promise
      all journalists safety in future," admitted Ken Lipenga, UDF Publicity
      Secretary.

      But Monsignor Tamani was not convinced with Lipenga's confession,
      considering that President Bakili Muluzi had himself made similar
      promises, yet violation of freedom of private media continued. "We are
      now tired of lip service and ask the UDF to get to the bottom of the
      Young Democrat's issue. They also have to compensate the journalist for
      the incarceration and lost property," charged Monsignor Tamani.

      *****

      Chiluba charged with stealing $29m

      Lusaka

      05 August 2003 14:33

      Zambia's former president Frederick Chiluba was charged on Tuesday with
      stealing $29-million of public funds and committing dozens of other
      offences while in office, police said.

      The head of the investigation told reporters that the former president
      would appear in court on August 27 to answer a total of 48 charges.

      According to one of the charges, $29-million was diverted from the
      finance ministry and deposited into the state intelligency agency's
      account in Britain.

      Chiluba, who left office in 2001, already faces 60 other charges
      relating to corruption and diversion of state funds during his 10 years
      as president of this southern African country.

      He was due in court later on Tuesday on an application to have these
      charges tried in the High Court, arguing that he will not get a fair
      hearing if he is tried in a lower court.

      Chiluba, who is currently free on bail, is jointly charged with former
      intelligence chief Xavier Chunga and Atan Shansonga, a former ambassador
      to the United States.

      The former Zambian president was arrested in February this year along
      with other top officials in his government on charges of abuse of
      office, theft and corruption. - Sapa-AFP

      *****

      From pride to pauper

      Andrew Meldrum.

      31 July 2003 13:38

      Once hailed as the pride of Africa, Zimbabwe's education system has
      been engulfed from top to bottom by the country's deepening political
      and economic crisis.

      The University of Zimbabwe, once the pinnacle of the system bequeathed
      by colonial rule, is finding it almost impossible to keep functioning.
      Meanwhile, in schools across the country, teachers are operating hand to
      mouth, worrying less about lessons than about what their pupils have to
      eat.

      At the university, in Harare's Mount Pleasant suburb, clouds of tear
      gas frequently smother the campus and dormitories. In the past few years
      police have sealed off the campus so often that it is almost routine.
      Once last year riot police dragged students from their dormitory rooms
      and beat them. One student died from his injuries and has become a cause
      célèbre.

      The pay of lecturers and professors is so low that almost all have had
      to find other jobs to get by. So many university posts remain vacant
      after resignations that departments are decimated and academics say the
      university is at the point of collapse.

      Classes have been suspended and students sent home several times in the
      past three years, making it difficult for students to finish their
      degrees in a reasonable period of time.

      "I used to enjoy teaching at the university, but now the conditions
      have become untenable," said a retiring professor. "There is
      political interference from political appointees, corruption, the
      continual battles of police on campus ... the university has become an
      encapsulation of Zimbabwe's problems."

      Other tertiary institutions across the country have faced similar
      troubles, while in schools teachers have been beaten, forced to attend
      "re-education camps" and killed, according to union officials.
      Students of all ages are sent home if they cannot pay fees or donth't
      have proper uniforms. Education budgets have been dropping for more than
      10 years. Teachers' meagre salaries have lagged far behind the
      country's 269% inflation rate.

      This is a far cry from the 1980s when President Robert Mugabe's
      government made education its priority. Zimbabwe's teachers were
      respected and relatively well remunerated. Primary education was nearly
      free and secondary education was within the reach of almost everyone in
      urban and rural areas. The country achieved impressive literacy rates,
      first of 80% and then above 90%, making Zimbabwe's education system
      one of the best in the developing world.

      But the education system, from primary school up through university,
      has suffered 10 years of decline, and since 2000 has been one of the
      main victims of the country's economic chaos and political
      repression.

      "I worked hard to qualify as a teacher and I was honoured in my
      community," said Tendai M, a veteran of Mugabe's liberation forces
      who became a teacher after independence. "I got a good education but I
      am not satisfied with the schooling my children are receiving."

      A mathematics teacher, who does not want to be named for fear of
      retribution, was appointed head teacher of his government boarding
      school two years ago. "I thought things would get better, but being a
      headmaster has been a nightmare," he said. "With food shortages and
      inflation we do not have enough money to get our children and teachers
      enough to eat ... We try to keep our classes going, but it is very
      difficult."

      Zimbabwe's education system has been one of the many casualties of
      the country's multiplying troubles, according to Brian Raftopoulos,
      chairperson of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, who spoke at the Canon
      Collins Memorial Lecture at London's School of Oriental and African
      Studies recently.

      "After 2000, in the context of the more general political crisis, a
      whole series of highly politicised problems emerged in the educational
      sphere," said Raftopoulos. "These problems have centred on the
      'disciplining' of teachers for their support of the opposition
      Movement for Democratic Change [MDC]; the militarisation of youth
      centres; the struggle by teachers for better conditions of service in a
      rapidly declining economy; and struggles over the curriculum, in
      particular the teaching of history."

      In his lecture Raftopoulos, who is an associate professor at the
      Institute for Development Studies at the University of Zimbabwe,
      chronicled the stunning successes of education in the early days of
      Zimbabwe's independence.

      Primary enrolment increased from 820 000 in 1979 to 1,2-million in
      1980, rising to 2,2-million by 1989, according to government statistics.
      In the 1990s enrolment reached a peak of nearly 2,5-million in 1996
      before falling to 2,4-million in 2000.

      At the secondary level the expansion was even more impressive.
      Enrolment increased from 66 000 in 1979 to 150 000 in 1981, reaching 670
      000 in 1989. Secondary enrolment rose to a peak of 844 000 by 2000.

      'While this quantitative growth of education has been impressive,"
      said Raftopoulos, "there are several problems which confront the
      future of educational development in Zimbabwe. These include the absence
      of a comprehensive policy framework; access and gender equity; relevance
      of the curriculum; school dropouts; and finance." He said the
      education system was struggling with tensions because of the
      government's desire to use schooling "as an ideological arm of
      the state".

      Raftopoulos said that about 15% of Zimbabwean children remained out of
      school in 2000, a disproportionately high number of whom were girls. The
      country's spiralling economic crisis in the past three years has
      caused many more children to stop going to school because their parents
      cannot afford the rising cost of fees, uniforms and books.

      "In a poverty assessment study survey carried out by the United
      Nations Development Programme, it was found that 61% of Zimbabweans were
      classified as poor in 1997, rising to 73% in 2003," said Raftopoulos.


      The cost of maintaining Zimbabwe's education system is high. Relative
      to comparable countries in the Southern African region, Zimbabwe spends
      an unusually large share of national income on education. "For
      example, in the mid-1980s Zimbabwe's budget allocation to the sector
      was more than twice the median of that spent by other low-income
      Anglophone countries and exceeded the median for medium-income countries
      by about 22%," said Raftopoulos.

      Nevertheless in the 1990s real per capita expenditure on education fell
      significantly, with the total education budget declining from 6% of the
      gross domestic product (GDP) in 1986/87 to 4% in 1993/94. By 2000 real
      expenditure on primary education had declined to 2% of GDP.

      "It is apparent that, while there has been a remarkable expansion of
      educational enrolment over the last 20 years, this expansion has
      intensified inequalities in Zimbabwe because of the different forms of
      educational provision and the problems of reduced financial expenditure
      that have placed an increasing burden on poorer families," said
      Raftopoulos.

      Ironically, Mugabe's success in educating large numbers of citizens
      has added to his troubles in recent years. The vast majority of young
      Zimbabweans are educated, but they cannot find jobs. This has created a
      huge well of discontent among the articulate youth.

      Zimbabwe's drastic economic decline in the past three years has
      caused the GDP to lose more than 30% of its value. Inflation is expected
      to be well over 300% for 2003. The government responded by carrying out
      "an authoritarian restructuring of the state, in order to consolidate
      its beleaguered position," said Raftopoulos. This affected the
      education system in several ways.

      "Teachers have been targeted on a regular basis for their alleged
      support for the opposition party, the MDC, and because they were
      considered key informants and community leaders in the rural areas."

      The Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe has documented the
      intimidation, harassment, detention, arrests, torture and the
      unprecedented unleashing of state security agents on the schools. As a
      result of the assaults by state agencies, the union reported that
      between 2000 and 2002 five teachers were killed, 119 raped and "many
      more were maimed, kidnapped, tortured and displaced".

      In addition, many teachers and students have been forced to attend
      "re-education camps" where lessons centre on a narrow,
      party-oriented history of Zimbabwe, including the formation of the
      ruling party, Zanu-PF, and its military struggle against white-minority
      Rhodesia.

      "Certainly, state violence against teachers and the narrow
      nationalist approach to the teaching of 'patriotic history' are a
      long way from the tone of tolerance urged by the Education Commission
      before the political crisis began in 2000," said Raftopoulos.

      The difficulties that have confronted Zimbabwe's education system in
      recent years illustrate the depth of the ongoing political and economic
      crisis. Yet Raftopoulos and other education specialists believe that the
      country's schools can rebound if Zimbabwe pulls out of the crisis
      through a peaceful, negotiated process of transition that will lead to
      free and fair elections.

      "The damage to education is severe, but it does not have to be
      permanent," concluded Raftopoulos. "The restoration of democracy
      will see Zimbabwe enter a period of reconciliation in which education
      can once again return to a place of priority. Teachers can once again
      have the respect of the government and the community. Students will once
      again have the opportunity to learn." * © Guardian Newspapers 2003
    • 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
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        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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