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  • Christine Chumbler
    Malawi battles crafty dope sellers Date: 05 Nov 2003 Malawi police are losing the battle against crafty marijuana smugglers, who have evaded a nationwide
    Message 1 of 1046 , Nov 7, 2003
      Malawi battles crafty dope sellers
      Date: 05 Nov 2003

      Malawi police are losing the battle against crafty marijuana smugglers,
      who have evaded a nationwide clampdown by transporting the popular
      narcotic in hearses, coffins and ambulances, with the support of rogue
      government officials.

      Police spokesperson George Chikowi told IPS that Malawi remains one of
      Africa's largest producers, despite concerted efforts to rid the country
      of the illicit crop.

      “Malawi remains the second-largest marijuana producer in Southern
      Africa, after South Africa. This is despite our best efforts to
      clampdown on the production, trafficking and consumption of
      marijuana,” said Chikowi.

      To evade the police, the majority of the growers have retreated to a
      remote mountainous areas where there are no good roads.

      The police have been tipped off that some of the larger syndicates are
      hiding their marijuana among the country's massive tea, coffee and sugar
      plantations, Chikowi said.

      “It's the traffickers who are coming up with the most innovative
      schemes to avoid detection. They're transporting the stuff in coffins
      inside hearses, and have even equipped their own ambulances to get
      through roadblocks and discourage proper searches,” he said.

      Some of the drug barons “bribe junior police officers” to transport
      hemp in police vans, he added. The officers take bribes as a way of
      supplementing their meagre salary of less than $200 a month.

      “These gangs are also using people's aversion to cemeteries and are
      using graveyards as their storehouses or distribution points,” Chikowi
      said.

      Six drug traffickers were recently arrested in a cemetery at
      Nkhotakota, central Malawi, with 28 large bags of marijuana. The
      consignment was allegedly on its way from Malawi's commercial capital,
      Blantyre, to South Africa, via a back-road network using trucks,
      ambulances, ferries and hearses.

      The six were nabbed after villagers became concerned with the
      defilement of their cemetery.

      Such arrests are unlikely to deter the other farmers in Nkhotakota from
      growing the herb, which is more lucrative than tobacco, Malawi's main
      cash crop.

      “Tobacco prices are very low on the world market. And, since Malawi
      depends on agriculture, what other cash crop can I grow to bring me more
      money?” asks Ngambo Nkulu (42).

      Chikowi said the police are planning to declare war on illicit
      trafficking by chartering a South African police or military aircraft to
      destroy marijuana plantations in remote parts of Malawi. He said the
      police need spray planes and helicopters because these remote marijuana
      plantations are inaccessible by road.

      “It is our desire to carry out such an operation, if we have
      financial resources to hire the chopper. We believe this type of
      operation can successfully curb the supply, source and the illicit
      trafficking of hemp. Our intention is not to reduce, but to eradicate
      the cultivation, smoking, supply and transport of hemp,” said
      Chikowi.

      “We also need cars and investigators to spend some months in the bush
      where hemp is grown,” he said.

      Despite the transport difficulties, Chikowi said the police have
      carried out several raids across the country. During the last one, in
      November last year, the police raided farms in the Nkhotakota and Mzimba
      districts in central and northern Malawi respectively, where they
      destroyed more than 663 000 marijuana plants, equivalent to 61 000kg of
      the herb.

      A United Nations Development Programme report released late last year
      indicates that the marijuana is under cultivation in at least 156 000ha
      of land in Malawi.

      A study by Peter Gastrow of the Pretoria-based Institute for Security
      Studies, Mind-blowing: The Cannabis Trade In Southern Africa, says South
      Africa is the fourth-largest producer in the world. The report says
      during 2000, the South African Police Service seized 718 000kg of the
      drug — 16% of the world total confiscated by police. Two years ago 496
      000kg of dagga, worth R450-million, was seized.

      “Of significance for this study is the UN's conclusion that nearly a
      quarter of the cannabis seizures worldwide between 1999 and 2000
      occurred in Southern Africa. In 2000 the large global increase was
      mainly the result of seizures in some African countries, specifically
      South Africa (718 tonnes), Malawi (312 tonnes) and Nigeria (272
      tonnes).

      “The UN further found that Africa's share of global seizures
      increased from approximately 10% to 32%, while the share of the Americas
      decreased from 80% to 61%. In short there appears to have been a global
      upsurge in demand for cannabis and a corresponding increase in supply,
      increasingly from southern Africa,” the report says.

      Malawi police statistics show that 80% of the annual production of
      marijuana finds its way across the borders to the lucrative South
      African market. Some of it ends up in European and American markets.

      Malawi's brand of cannabis contains high levels cannabenoids —
      chemical substances that have the power to change people's moods — and
      is believed to be one of the most potent in the world.

      The fight against marijuana cultivation, consumption and trafficking
      has further been complicated by Rastafarians, who are pressuring the
      government to legalise the herb.

      The Rastafarians are seeking assistance from the Malawi Ombudsman to
      help them legalise dagga, which they say is used as part of their
      religion.

      Rastafarians are followers of a religion from Jamaica, which teaches
      that West Indians will return to Africa and that Haile Selassie, the
      former emperor of Ethiopia, is to be worshipped.

      Interestingly, the Rastafarians have an ally in the ruling United
      Democratic Front parliamentarian and former deputy agriculture minister,
      Joe Manduwa, who at one time asked Parliament to legalise the
      cultivation of hemp to boost the country's foreign earnings.

      “It's high time Malawi resorts to growing hemp to boost its foreign
      earnings,” said Manduwa.

      The idea was shot down by his fellow legislators.Statistics at Zomba
      Mental Hospital, Malawi's only mental asylum indicate that six out of 10
      mentally ill inmates there have smoked marijuana. — IPS

      *****

      Forced Sex, a Threat to Adolescent Girls : Girls Continually Fail to Go
      for VCT



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      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      November 2, 2003
      Posted to the web November 3, 2003

      Maxwell Zingani II
      Lilongwe

      When Thokozile, (not her real name) a young girl in her teens and in
      secondary school falls in love with a popular handsome young man, she is
      over the moon. This is the first time for her to experience love and he
      makes her feel loved and important.

      Two weeks later Thokozile gets that shock of her life when her new love
      tells her that in order for her to prove her love for him, they should
      have sex. Her immediate response in NO! But when she says it is wrong
      for them to have sex, her boyfriend threatens to leave her and end the
      relationship.

      After a little while Thokozile gives in because she does not want to
      lose her boyfriend. They have sex without using a condom and from then
      on, the two have sex whenever they have an opportunity. The affair does
      not last because her boyfriend is soon bored with her and her lack of
      experience. He looks else where for another challenge and more fun.
      Thokozile is left wondering whether she has not been infected by the
      HIV. The situation is made worse because she is not able to go for
      Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT).

      Although she is aware that this is the only way in which she can find
      out if she has been infected, she is worried and frightened that her
      family and friends will discover that she has been to a VCT centre.

      The talk that she hears is; 'it is only bad people who become infected
      and therefore deserve to be HIV positive'. Fear of stigma and
      discrimination keep her from seeking VCT and knowing her status. As long
      as Thokozile is ignorant of her status, she is unable to play her part
      in stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS.

      This scenario is a reality to most young girls in their teens. They are
      coerced into having sex, and in most cases, it is unprotected. The young
      girls either become infected with the virus or drop out of school
      because they fall pregnant. In both cases their future is threatened and
      certainly uncertain.

      A snap survey on the streets of the capital, Lilongwe indicates that
      most girls usually give in to their boyfriend's demand for sex because
      they are afraid of losing them as well as because of peer pressure.

      Financial gain is also a big contributing factor for young girls
      becoming sexually active.

      At one secondary school in Lilongwe, most of the girls who were
      interviewed by The Chronicle said that they usually have sex with their
      boyfriends against their will.

      'I have sex with my friend just because I want to please him and not
      that I want to. Most of us think that if we refuse to have sex with our
      boyfriends they are going to dump us or they will have another affair,'
      said a form two girl aged 13 years.

      She went on to say that in most situations they do not use any form of
      protection.

      Another young girl Grace (surname withheld) said that she has had sex
      with her boyfriend a number of times because he forces himself on her.

      'My boyfriend demands that we should have sex with him and when I first
      said no he started reminding me of the things that he had bought for me.
      He told me that if I did not want to have sex with him I should give him
      everything back that he had spent on me right away,' said Grace, a form
      three student at a private school in Area 25.

      She said that because she could not give back what her boyfriend had
      given to her, she gave in to him and had sex with him.

      'I thought that he was not going to ask for sex any more after the
      first time, but it then became his habit to ask for sex almost every
      time that I go to his house,' said Grace.

      Other girls interviewed by The Chronicle said that their boyfriends,
      who are older than themselves often force them into having sex.

      'My boyfriend is eight years older than me, and often demands to have
      sex with me. Some time he beats me when I refuse,' said another form
      three girl at Mbidzi Secondary School who did not want to be named.

      Asked to comment on the situation, the Chairman of Alliance for Youth
      Organisation (AYO), Chimwemwe Mdala, said that it is important that
      young girls be strong to say NO to sex.

      'Young girls must know that early sex is very dangerous for them,
      therefore they must be strong and when they say NO to sex they must mean
      it. They should not give in just because they want to please their
      boyfriends,' said Mndala.

      United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) in a brief overview of Malawi
      indicated that 66 percent of secondary school youth are sexually
      active.

      The Adolescent Girls Participation Baseline Report indicates that 26
      percent of the girls have been forced into sexual encounters. Early age
      sexual intercourse is one of the contributing factors to the spread of
      HIV/AIDS.

      A large percentage of the young girls involved in sexual relationships
      do not seek VCT and therefore are not aware of their sero-status.

      *****

      Botched Service Leaves No Evidence of Child Defilement, as Hospital
      Fails to Process Specimen



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      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      November 2, 2003
      Posted to the web November 3, 2003

      Pushpa Jamieson
      Lilongwe

      A specimen swab taken from a three year old child (name withheld) at
      Dowa Hospital was not correctly treated which resulted in her parents
      being unable to place defilement charges on a perpetrator, The Chronicle
      has learnt.

      Speaking in an interview to The Chronicle a distressed Sipiriano, the
      father of the child said his daughter was defiled on the 17th October in
      the afternoon by a neighbour's 17 year old son (name withheld). The deed
      was discovered when the child revealed to the mother that the boy had
      *urinated' on her.

      'When my wife asked our child where the boy had urinated on her, the
      child pointed to her private parts.' He added that when his wife
      examined the child, she indeed discovered that she had been defiled.

      The child was taken to Mchezi Hospital at 6.00 pm where the parents
      were informed that it was a police case. The matter, the hospital said -
      had to be reported to the police and the child had to be taken to Dowa
      District Hospital who were better equipped to handle the evidence of the
      defilement.

      On reporting the matter to the police the parents were informed that it
      was important that the child was examined by a hospital to ascertain if
      penetration had taken place as well as to determine inconclusive proof
      of defilement before any charges could be made. They were informed not
      to bathe the child and to take her to the hospital early the next day.
      Staff at Dowa hospital collected the necessary specimen from the child
      at about 9.30 am on the 18th of October. The specimen was place in a
      test tube which was handed to Sipiriano who was told to wait outside a
      room for the person who would take it from him for processing.

      By 2.00 pm he became concerned and went to ask some members of staff
      what was happening. 'I was told that since no one was opening the door
      of the room I was directed to, I should take the specimen to the
      children's ward.

      When I told the nurse what had happened, she asked why I had kept the
      tube for so long. She said that it was possible they would not be able
      to find any evidence since it was so long since the specimen was taken,'
      Sipiriano said. 'I was told that since it was the week- end, she would
      put the tube in the fridge and that I was to return on Monday the 20th
      to see what could be done' The father then returned on Monday only to be
      told that there was nothing that could be done since it would not be
      possible to determine defilement from the specimen after such a long
      time. When asked what kind of treatment was given to the child, he
      replied: 'She was given aspirin on the 18th and also on the 20th' When
      contacted for comment Dr. Joshua in charge of the Dowa District Hospital
      who was in a UNICEF meeting at the Lilongwe Hotel referred the matter to
      the deputy District Health Officer in Dowa, a Mr. Ngwira.

      Ngwira said, according to his investigations, the specimen was not
      available for examination because it had been taken home by Sipiriano.
      Asked why the specimen was not given to the laboratory technician,
      Ngwira said, on the day in question the technician was not at the
      hospital .

      'The technician was in Lilongwe on that day and I have been told that
      the patient left for home with the specimen.' When informed that the
      patient had in fact taken the specimen to the children's ward and was
      told to leave it there until Monday, he replied: 'I have no idea about
      the specimen being left at the children's ward,' adding, 'It was
      explained to the patient that the lab technician had been away to
      Lilongwe when he returned on Monday'.

      Ngwira further said that according to the clinician who examined the
      child, there was not evidence of defilement, and that the specimens were
      taken only to verify his findings.

      Sipiriano says he is now unable to proceed with the case because he has
      no evidence to say the child had indeed been defiled. 'I am very angry
      because I was not helped by the hospital. I was not informed properly
      and I was left to sit outside a room that did not open for many hours.
      How are people going to report such things if the people who know about
      the urgency of such things are not helping them. This sort of thing must
      not happen to other people,' he said adding that something ought to be
      done when such negligence takes place.

      Sipiriano has ceased trying to bring the defiler to court and is now
      seeking treatment for his child. 'I just want to make sure that the
      child is fine because these are very dangerous times and my little girl
      may have contracted anything and could become sick and die,' he added
      sorrowfully.


      *****

      Excuses, excuses

      Harare

      07 November 2003 08:13


      Zimbabwe's information minister on Thursday accused some western powers
      of sabotaging the southern African country's economy in a bid to unseat
      President Robert Mugabe's government.

      Jonathan Moyo told a high level meeting on the country's economic
      crisis that the countries wanted Mugabe to leave power over his
      controversial land reforms, during which a minority group of whites lost
      land to thousands of landless blacks.

      "Britain, America, Australia... and New Zealand are truly and seriously
      committed to regime change, they seek a regime change in Zimbabwe," he
      said.

      "They are pursuing it through acts of economic sabotage and they use
      weapons of mass deception, (under the cover of) instruments of
      democracy, human rights rule of law, good governance, to sound
      reasonable," Moyo said.

      "They steal our foreign currency earnings, they attack even our own
      currency to the point of saying it's scarce, to blame the government, to
      seek regime change, and they drive the parallel market," he told top
      government, economic and civic officials seeking solutions to the
      economic malaise.

      Zimbabwe is grappling with a record economic problems characterised by
      hperinflation at 455% and shortages of most basics, among them grains
      and fuel.

      The economic problems have been widely blamed on Mugabe's government.

      Said Moyo: "This country is under de facto economic sanctions."

      Mugabe and his closest associates have been placed under targetted
      sanctions which include travel bans to the European Union and the United
      States on allegations of right abuses.

      Zimbabwe has repeatedly accused Britain, the former colonial power of
      bankrolling the leading opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change
      (MDC).

      Moyo accused government workers of failing to implement government
      policies because of bureaucracy and ideological differences.

      "Right now there is in our country a frenzy against government
      authority, against policy. The state machinery has been weakened," he
      said.

      "That is why we have a flourishing parallel (black) market, that is why
      we have hyperinflation .. the instruments for intervention are not
      there," he admitted.

      The two day conference convened by government and business heard on
      Wednesday that Zimbabwe's economy was being undermined by contradictory
      and ineffectual government policies, corruption, greed and the country's
      negative image abroad. - Sapa-AFP
    • 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 8:06 AM

        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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