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  • Christine Chumbler
    Churches Now Espouse Condom Use in War On Aids African Church Information Service November 10, 2003 Posted to the web November 11, 2003 Hobbs Gama Blantyre In
    Message 1 of 1046 , Nov 12, 2003
      Churches Now Espouse Condom Use in War On Aids

      African Church Information Service

      November 10, 2003
      Posted to the web November 11, 2003

      Hobbs Gama

      In a bold move that contradicts the conservative stand taken by most
      churches here, World Alive Ministries, a Pentecostal church, has
      revealed that it is now giving condoms to HIV-infected couples, through
      its Intervention Counselling and Care (ICOCA) project.

      George Kukhala, field officer for ICOCA, has however, stated that the
      condom distribution project strictly targets couples, pointing out that
      the youth are only encouraged to abstain until they enter into

      "We know there is still a strong stand by other churches against the
      use of condoms. While they have negative attitude, we look at the
      initiative positively," said Kukhala.

      Another Pentecostal church, the Salvation Army, has launched a campaign
      to discourage their faithful from engaging in some cultural practices
      and beliefs that could promote the transmission of HIV/AIDS. They are
      also providing condoms to members.

      Some ethnic groups still conduct a sexual ritual known as kuchotsa
      fumbi, which involves forcing young boys and girls to have sex as a way
      of introducing them to the "adult world", soon after graduating from
      cultural initiation rites.

      In other communities, a widowed woman has to engage in a sexual
      intercourse with a selected man, supposedly to ebb away misfortunes,
      before she is allowed to re-marry. The practice is called kulowa kufa.

      Considering the danger of these persistent traditions, which violate
      the rights of women and children, and put them to risk of contracting
      HIV, the Salvation Army encourages condom use.

      Said Ephraim Maida, a volunteer supervisor on an HIV project of the
      church, recently: "At first, followers resisted the move, but now they
      can understand. As a church, we have a duty to empower our members
      physically and spiritually."

      The Roman Catholic church, unlike the Church of Central Africa
      Presbyterian (CCAP), which recognises condom use by couples and
      encourages abstinence among the youth, is still not comfortable with the

      When a reporter recently solicited a comment from Fr Robert Mwaungulu,
      spokesman for the Episcopal Conference of Malawi, a Catholic bishops
      forum, the response was terse and marked with apprehension. "The matter
      is too sensitive to be discussed on the phone," said Fr Mwaungulu.

      The Moderator of the Blantyre Synod of CCAP, Rev McDonald Kadawati,
      said they had no problem with making condoms available to couples, if it
      meant saving lives.

      "But we differ on the issue of the church being at the forefront,
      distributing them. As for couples, they can make private arrangements to
      get the condoms, and not the Church," he pointed out.

      The latest developments suggest that a number of churches are pulling
      out of an earlier declaration by the faith community in Malawi.

      Through an HIV/AIDS faith community task force, religious groups
      unanimously resolved to put in place a policy banning promotion of
      condoms on radio, television, newspapers, and public posters.

      The move created fear that efforts by government and other institutions
      to stem the spread of the disease was going to be frustrated.

      Meanwhile, the northern region of Malawi's Livingstonia Mission of the
      CCAP is distributing nevirapine, an antiretroviral drug, to HIV positive
      mothers in order to reduce mother to child transmission of HIV.

      Deputy secretary general for the synod, Rev Ted Mwambira, said that
      previously, mothers had to travel all the distance to Lilongwe, the
      country's capital in the central region, to get the drugs.

      "The programme has seen more women coming for voluntary HIV testing,
      which was sparsely patronised before," said Mwambira.

      About 10 percent of Malawi's population is said to be infected with
      HIV. The virus has so far led to the death of more than 500,000 lives
      since 1985, when the first case was reported.


      Opposition Challenged

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      November 9, 2003
      Posted to the web November 10, 2003

      Wezie Nyirongo

      The Christian Churches Committee on the Electoral Process (CCEP), a
      group facilitating efforts for the formation of a strong coalition and
      has been brainstorming on the qualities of a Presidential candidate for
      the opposition, has put forward definitive criteria that challenges the
      opposition parties.

      The reasoning by CCEP is that there is need for a strong opposition and
      the best possible leader if a coalition of opposition parties is to
      dislodge the ruling UDF from power in the forthcoming tripartite
      elections slatted for May next year.

      The laid out criteria has effectively created great difficulties for
      the parties as their presidential aspirants, one by one fail to meet the
      stringent requirements. Additionally, as a result, the deadline last
      Thursday to submit a name to the group has come and gone with no names
      put forward.

      Requirements for the presidential candidate for the opposition
      coalition includes; someone who is God fearing, law abiding and with no
      criminal conviction including having a clean record in relation to
      corruption. The individual must be of high integrity, be patriotic,
      visionary and must have a track record of his or her capacity and
      ability to perform consistently.

      Of importance is the fact that an aspirant must be trusted by society,
      be publicly known for being upright and fully respected by all

      Additionally, an important criteria brought on by past leaders in the
      country is a need for a nominee to be humble, with no inclination to
      remain in power indefinitely or be power hungry and abusive with it.

      The Chronicle has established that the meeting which the group held
      recently at Limbe Cathedral's Youth Centre in Blantyre was attended by a
      Reverend Makata, Father Mbeta of Limbe Cathedral, a Father Gama, Pastor
      Matoga of Faith of God Ministries with representatives of eight
      opposition parties together brainstormed on the criteria and processes
      for choosing a leader of the opposition by the political parties.

      According to a document sourced by The Chronicle, the delegates agreed
      that the leader of the opposition should come from a party with strong
      national structures at branch and constituency levels.

      The prospective candidate must be someone who cannot be easily targeted
      by enemy forces in terms of having pending court cases. It was agreed
      that the nominee must have been democratically elected in his/her own
      party, must have no past criminal or civil record as stipulated in the

      The other criteria listed in the document is that the candidate should
      be educated up to degree level but this demand was later removed noting
      that it could be construed as being discriminatory and unconstitutional.
      Most of the politicians in Malawi are not educated to University level.

      In addition: 'Someone who is mostly or publicity known, consistent, a
      good listener of sound advice, has respect for other people's rights,
      highly analytical, not unpredictable, is stable mentality and a family

      The prospective president has to have a clear vision for transforming
      Malawi into a self reliant nation,' reads part of the document.

      According to a source, one of the church leaders who attended the
      meeting told The Chronicle that on religion, the group decided to
      welcome anyone, whether from the Muslim community or from a Christian
      grouping but said the matter will further be discussed again at another

      The group said the interest from the church is based on promoting good
      governance, prudent and improvement management of economic and other
      resources and fostering a strong opposition. The meeting was chaired by
      Father Mbeta, according to the document.

      On the shadow cabinet, the source added that the group urged political
      parties to reduce cabinet not to exceed 20 ministers, inclusive of
      deputy ministers, and such appointments would be prorated on the basis
      of seats won by a party.

      'We suggested that a number of 18 to 20 would be recommended provided
      they don't miss out on important ministries. Apparently, the motto of
      CCEP is to see that the effectiveness and the success of the ministries
      is guaranteed,' said the source.

      The post of the second vice president which is currently filled by
      Chakufwa Chihana is also in line for abolishing, according to the
      document. On this issue the source commented that the post is to be
      abolished because usually posts in Malawi are not awarded on merit.

      It has also been learnt that the People's Transformation Party (PETRA)
      circulated a document at the meeting on the framework for the willing
      opposition parties. The other document which was circulated was of the
      Kenyan elections where a coalition between opposition parties
      successfully dislodged President Daniel arap Moi and the ruling KANU
      party and took members through the election process of the Kenyan
      Rainbow Coalition.

      When The Chronicle went to bed, most opposition parties were locked in
      meetings to decide what names to submit to the churches' committee on
      the leader of opposition. MCP was among the parties which were having
      meetings which was held at the party leader's residence in Lilongwe.

      The Chronicle could not get further information from the other parties
      as they too were reported to be in meetings.

      MCP leader John Tembo and his vice Gwanda Chakuamba could not qualify
      for the post of leader of opposition as stipulated in the document that
      the criteria of choosing the leader of opposition should be someone who
      can not be easily targeted by enemy forces in terms of having pending
      court case.

      Tembo and Chakuamba both have pending court cases, Tembo for Contempt
      of Court and Chakuamba is accused of forging and distributing a letter
      in support of the Third Term allegedly penned by President Bakili

      The parties which are in the opposition coalition and who sent a
      representative to the meeting are: Malawi Congress Party (MCP), People's
      Progressive Movement (PPM), National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Malawi
      Democratic Party (MDP), National Unity Party (NUP), Malawi Forum for
      Democratic Change (MGODE), Peoples' Transformation Party (PETRA) and the
      Movement Forum for Democracy (MAFUNDE).


      Malewezi, Chirwa On UN Task Force On HIV/AIDs

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      November 9, 2003
      Posted to the web November 10, 2003

      Pushpa Jamieson

      Vice President Justin Malewezi has been appointed a member of the
      United Nations (UN) Secretary General Task Force on Women, Girls and

      Malewezi, together with Dr. Vera Chirwa Executive Director of Malawi
      Centre for Advice Research and Education on Rights (Malawi CARER) and
      Dr. Naomi Ngwira the Executive Director of the Institute of Policy
      Research and Analysis are members of a Task Force on Women, Girls and
      HIV/AIDS commissioned by the United Nations (UN) Secretary General Koffi

      The three are members of a Task Force which has 25 members who will
      focus on plans of scaling up innovative efforts that involve and benefit
      women and girls in Sub-Sahara Africa and the SADC region.

      The Task Force members have been appointed from nine countries,
      Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Mozambique Namibia, Swaziland,
      Zambia and Zimbabwe who are most affected by HIV/AIDS. Each country has
      three representitives on the Task Force.

      Based on regional and country level consultations with these countries,
      the Task Force is to develop consensus on a regional plan to respond to
      the issues of Women, Girls and HIV/AIDS which is to be presented to

      Malewezi said it is important that the Task Force is locally owned and
      driven in order for them to be able to identify substantive issues that
      are a key to fight HIV/AIDS. He encouraged appointments of local experts
      in the different areas of concern in order to come up with a clear and
      true picture of the issues of HIV/AIDS and Women and Girls.

      He said it was important to involve experts from the Ministry of
      Health, Ministry of Gender, experts from organisations that deal with
      women and law and those who work with in the communities and have
      knowledge of what is happening at grass roots level, to name a few.
      These experts should be led by the National AIDS Commission (NAC)
      Malewezi said.

      Speaking at a meeting to review the draft country report for Malawi in
      Lilongwe recently, Ngwira said she wanted to see a more aggressive
      method that has never been taken before to fight HIV/AIDS. 'Are we
      serious enough to do something that has not been done before,' she said.
      Ngwira added that in order to make some impact, there needed to be a
      willingness to take the fight against HIV/AIDS to the highest level.

      Mary Kaphwereza Banda minister responsible for HIV/AIDS said her
      ministry, together with NAC will be working closely with the Task Force
      by providing them with crucial information.

      'My ministry, together with NEC will be working closely with the
      members of the Task Force by providing them with information they will
      need in order for them to present the true picture of the full impact of
      HIV/AIDS in Malawi to the UN,' she said.

      The Task force will be assisted by working groups led by the Ministry
      of Gender with assistance from United Nations and UNAIDS.

      It is expected that the members of the Task Force will be meeting in
      Johannesburg - South Africa on the 27th and 28th of November in order to
      review the country reports and map out a way forward.


      Education Vital in the Fight Against HIV/Aids - UNICEF Representative

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      November 9, 2003
      Posted to the web November 10, 2003

      Our Reporter

      ...girls need education to fight HIV/AIDS

      Education is the only empowerment that can help young girl fight
      against the HIV/AIDS pandemic, this is according to Unicef Resident
      Representative in Malawi, Catherine Mbengue.

      Mbengue said that education can help young girls to be economically
      independent which will, at the end of the day make them understand
      better what they must to do to protect themselves.

      'We know from empirical evidence that girls who are educated generally
      have healthier and better education and children and that they are more
      likely to understand what they must do to protect themselves and their
      families against HIV/AIDS and other diseases,' said Mbengue.

      She went on to say that the number of girls dropping out of school is
      very high as well as a large number of girls have not been in school.

      She said that it is absolutely unacceptable and even regrettable that
      there are 22% of girls of primary school going age not in school, while
      60% of those in school do not attend regularly.

      She also said that 10.5% of the girls who enroll drop out.

      She pointed out that if this situation is not address then the future
      is bleak.

      Mbengue was speaking during the launch of an Accelerated Girls
      Education Campaign recently.

      According to UNFPA, poverty, which is exists because of a lack of
      education and a lack of appropriate information are some of the
      contributing factors to the spread of HIV/AIDS.

      The launch which was held at Civo stadium brought together students
      from both government and private schools in Lilongwe who performed
      numerous activities which were based on the importance of girl's


      Press Freedom Under Threat!

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      November 9, 2003
      Posted to the web November 10, 2003

      Wezie Nyirongo

      Media players in the country have voiced their concern on the manner
      that the laws on freedom of the media could be abrogated in the country
      despite assurances by the DPP, Fahad Assani recently when he called for
      more laxity in dealing with journalists. A new amendment is proposed
      that seeks to bring media practitioners to book for disseminating
      information of public interest on elections.

      Government's move to tamper with the Electoral laws has already met
      with stiff challenges from the opposition as well as civil society
      groups and, with these election amendments due in parliament next month,
      the media too is also likely to be a target, The Chronicle has

      Section 8 of the Electoral Commission Act is due for amendment by
      adding sub-sections which might violate Section 36 of the Republican
      Constitution on the free publication of information in regard to the
      forthcoming elections.

      The sections to be added to section 8 are in three categories as
      subsections 3, 4 and 5. Section 3 says and quotes: 'Without derogating
      from the generality of section (2) which demands additional new
      subsections, the Commission may, by notice in writing, require any
      person to appear before it in relation to any inquiry or investigation
      at a time and place specified in such notice, and to call for such
      books, records, returns and other documents or things in the possession
      or under the control of any such person, and which the Commission may
      deem necessary or appropriate in connection with that inquiry or
      investigation.' Section 4 says every person to whom subsection (3)
      applies shall (a) co-operate with the Commission and disclose truthfully
      all information within his knowledge relevant to an inquiry or
      investigation of the Commission, while part (b) demands to 'produce any
      book, record, return, report or other document or anything to the
      Commission which the Commission may deem necessary or appropriate in
      connection with any inquiry or investigation of the Commission.

      Section 5 further states that the charges for someone who fails to
      comply with section 4 and found guilty with the offense would be be
      liable to pay a hefty fine and imprisonment for a number of years. The
      duration of imprisonment is not indicated on the draft document which is
      expected to be endorsed by parliament.

      The additions to section 8 would violate the provisions of section 36
      of the Malawi constitution which recognises freedom of the press
      accorded to the media personnel within the media fraternity.

      Section 36 says 'The press shall have the right to report and publish
      freely, within Malawi and abroad, and to be accorded the fullest
      possible facilities for access to public information.' Relatively
      sections 34 and 35 accords freedom of opinion and expression
      respectively to every individual in the country.

      The Interim Chairperson of the National Editors' Forum of Malawi, Rob
      Jamieson reacting to the move said although there is no legislation that
      protects whistleblowers in Malawi, journalists must protect their
      sources of information.

      'It is a known fact throughout the world that journalists do not reveal
      their source of information, no matter what the provocation. Many have
      gone to goal rather than name a source,' he said adding: 'This attempt
      to amend the law in this manner could effectively remove the
      relationship of trust that exists between the media and those who give
      us information.' Jamieson said he was wary about the purpose of such an
      inclusion and asked that the provision be thoroughly debated before
      being passed.

      When contacted for comment Information Minister Bernard Chisale told
      The Chronicle that he had seen the draft document but hadn't gone
      through its contents.

      'I was out of the country but I have seen the document. However I have
      not gone through its contents. So I won't be able to comment on that
      now,' said Chisale and referred the reporter to the Attorney General
      Peter Fatchi.

      However Fatchi could not be reached for comment as his phone was out of

      Press freedom has always been under fire as most journalists have been
      attacked and harasses in different ways. A number of journalists have
      been arrested for writing stories which, according to government it
      consider to be detrimental to public security and would cause public


      Ayo to Sensitise the Youth

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      November 9, 2003
      Posted to the web November 10, 2003

      Maxwell Zingani II

      Since the dawn of multi-party politics in the country the youth have
      been used as tools for political violence, this is the reason that has
      made Alliance for Youth Organisation embarked on a programme meant to
      stop the youths of this country to be used in perpetrating violence.

      According to AYO's publicity secretary, Gabriel Maliwa the programme is
      to civic educate the youth on the importance of not taking part in
      violence, and what harm violence can do to the country's young
      democracy. "As we are approaching the elections the youths are going to
      be used in political violence, that is why we are going to do this
      programme so that they should know that they should not take part in
      political violence," said Maliwa.

      He went on to say that during this senstization programme the
      organisation is going to tell the youth about their roles in a
      democracy. "The youths have a good role to play in a democracy,
      therefore they should not let politicians use them for their political
      gains," said Maliwa.

      When asked to explain more about the programme, AYO's chair, Chimwemwe
      Mndala, said that they are going to use numerous ways to conduct
      awareness on the dangers of political violence. "Our activites are going
      to include drama, song and lectures. We are going to try to make these
      activities exciting to youth because we know that for the youth to get
      the message they need to be interested," said Mndala.

      He went on to say that as a group they are very concerned with the way
      the youth are being used in political violence. "The youth are the ones
      who are being used in violence and at the end of the day the youth are
      the ones who suffer most," said Mndala.

      On the funding for the project, the organisation's treasurer, Limbani
      Msowoya, said that AYO undertook some fund raising in preparation for
      the programme. "We realised that political violence is our own problem
      as Malawians therefore we conducted fund raising so that we should start
      this programme as soon as we can without waiting for some organisations
      to fund us," said Msowoya.

      Msowoya went on to say that it took the organisation almost a year to
      raise funds for the programme.

      The programme is to start in the outskirts of Lilongwe, according to
      Seleman Dailton who is the programme director for the project.

      He said the organisation is going to undertakean extensive
      sensitasation programme in four districts in the central region. "The
      first phase is going to be done in Lilongwe and Mchinji while the second
      phase is going to be done in Kasungu and Salima," said Dailton.

      The project is to cost more than MK160,000 according to the treasurer.


      Zim land grab turns sour

      Chris Anold Msipa | Harare, Zimbabwe

      11 November 2003 16:48

      The "fast-track" land grab and resettlement the Zimbabwean government
      claims to have completed "successfully" has been described as one huge
      national scandal.

      "What the world is hearing or reading differs greatly from the reality
      on the ground, especially when it comes to who benefited from the
      programme. No Zimbabwean is against land redistribution, but the manner
      in which it has been handled is not right," says a retired accountant,
      who only gives his name as Nyani.

      His comment comes amid reports of fresh confusion and clashes on the
      farms, where senior government officials and politicians from the ruling
      Zanu-PF are displacing peasants and ex-combatants of Zimbabwe's
      liberation war resettled during the controversial exercise.

      Three years ago it was the poor blacks against whites in the fight for
      farms. The tables have now turned, as the rich blacks have descended on
      the peasants. The former guerrillas, who led the initial invasions in
      2000, are threatening retaliation.

      Endy Mhlanga, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Liberation War
      Veterans' Association, says: "Comrades [ex-combatants] are now being
      moved off the land they seized, to make way for some civilians, who, at
      that time, distanced themselves from the jambanja [the violent seizure
      of the land]."

      His group is inviting all former guerrillas who have been displaced
      from their new land to report to the association.

      "We are prepared to fight," Mhlanga says, but adding, "As an
      association, we are in the same line with the party [Zanu-PF] and the

      "We have discovered a lot of abnormalities in the scheme. We respect
      the president [Robert Mugabe] and cannot reveal the information until we
      brief him. He can later tell whoever else he wants ... we just don't
      want to wash our dirty linen in public."

      Mhlanga says some incidents are already public knowledge, like the
      eviction of five disabled ex-combatants from a farm in Beatrice, near
      the capital, Harare. The property has been taken over by the wife of a
      late member of Parliament.

      Three months ago police set ablaze 1 000 homes during an early-morning
      raid at Windcrest Farm in the south-eastern region of Masvingo, ordering
      the original invaders to return to their former communal homes and make
      way for a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official. The families were
      allotted the plots in 2001 under the so-called "fast-track" land
      resettlement programme.

      Hundreds of other settlers have a pending case with the authorities
      over Little England Farm in the western Zvimba district, home of Mugabe.
      His late nephew's wife and about 70 other people have been selected to
      take over the 6 000ha farm. The evicted families have been resisting the

      "These people and the war veterans were used to grab the farms. Now
      they are being forced to join hundreds of stranded former farm workers
      who lost their jobs and homes in the land invasions," says a traditional
      leader in the district.

      The elder, who prefers anonymity for fear of reprisal, says the land
      issue is "a headache. There are too many scandals nvolving very senior
      [Zanu-PF] party and government officials. Some of them are even selling
      the farms to aspiring settlers. They are demanding bribes."

      About a million farm workers lost their jobs when Mugabe's government
      seized land from 4 500 white farmers between 2000 and 2002, according to
      human rights groups.

      Multiple farm ownership is another problem bedevilling the
      controversial land-reform programme in Zimbabwe, amid reports that some
      Cabinet ministers have properties registered, in some cases, in the
      names of their children.

      Mugabe in July ordered senior officials who had seized more than one
      farm to surrender all and remain with one, under his "One Man One Farm
      Policy", which seems to have been ignored so far.

      However, Zanu-PF national chairperson John Nkomo is quoted as saying
      that about 60 000ha of land have been returned. But he neither mentions
      names nor any action likely to be taken against those who returned the

      Bright Garikai Mombeshora, a commentator on agricultural issues, says
      while the disturbances on the farms continue, they are also laying the
      foundation for more difficulties ahead if the state does not come up
      with clear guidelines.

      "The fundamental problem regarding the agricultural sector at the
      moment is the direction the government wants to take. It doesn't seem to
      have a clear policy as to how it wants it to develop," he says.

      Mombeshora says there was no need to destroy an already-established
      infrastructure by white farmers to institute a land-reform programme.
      The authorities should have employed simple approaches like collecting
      the names and number of people interested in land and the size of areas
      needed to cater for them, without removing existing producers.

      He says financial institutions that were dealing with the commercial
      farming sector before the invasions also need clarity on who will settle
      the debts and other transactions left behind by the evicted white

      Ex-combatants in 2000 reportedly defied orders by Vice-President Joseph
      Msika, the then interior minister John Nkomo and the Minister of
      Agriculture Joseph Made not to seize farms. Mugabe was out of the
      country when the noise began.

      On his return he quickly declared the illegal occupations as a
      "demonstration" against unfair distribution of land, and barred forcible
      eviction of the invaders, plunging the country into chaos and sparking
      shortages of food, fuel and other essential commodities. But Mugabe
      needed support from war veterans and rural masses ahead of last year's
      presidential poll.

      The government says persistent drought has frustrated production,
      especially of crops, in parts of the country. It does not explain the
      reduction in irrigation activities on the seized farms, where there are
      reports of massive looting and vandalising of equipment, either by
      former farm workers or the new settlers. The looted equipment is
      reportedly resold cheaply.

      A report by a team of retired senior civil servants -- appointed by
      Mugabe this year to review the resettlement exercise -- says whites now
      hold 3% of the country's arable land. Before the invasion, they used to
      own 30%, or 11-million hectares. While the state claims to have
      resettled 300 000 families, the study shows only 127 200 benefited from
      the exercise.

      Many of the farmers who fled their properties with their workers have
      either crossed into neighbouring Zambia or Mozambique. Others are
      renting houses in the cities, awaiting the outcome of petitions against
      their evictions.

      Some Zanu-PF officials say they expect Mugabe, in office since
      independence from Britain in 1980, to announce his retirement plans next
      month at the party's annual conference. The civil servants report, they
      say, supports Mugabe's claim of successfully returning land to its
      rightful owners, one of the major conditions he set before he steps
      down. -- IPS


      Zimbabwe govt orders arrest of striking doctors


      12 November 2003 12:22

      The government in Zimbabwe has ordered police to arrest all striking
      state hospital doctors for defying last week's court order to return to

      Mariyawanda Nzuwah, head of the government human resources agency, the
      Public Services Commission (PSC), said the doctors face contempt of
      court charges for ignoring a labour tribunal order that they should end
      their strike because it was illegal.

      Quoted by the official ZIANA news agency, Nzuwah said the PSC "has
      requested the commissioner of police to bring before the courts of law
      all those doctors who have violated the law and the attorney general to
      prosecute them forthwith."

      Doctors at government run hospitals, whose monthly salaries can barely
      pay for basics such as rent, bills and groceries, have been on strike
      for a month demanding pay hikes of up to 8 000%.

      Nzuwah said the doctors' demands were "ridiculous and unacceptable" and
      that even President Robert Mugabe did not earn the kind of salary they
      have asked for.

      A labour tribunal last Thursday ruled that the doctors' strike, then
      two weeks old, was illegal, but the doctors vowed not to return to work
      until they had a written undertaking from government to deal with their

      Nzuwa said the doctors were in breach of labour laws that prohibit
      workers in essential services such as the medical field and the
      uniformed forces from striking.

      He said the doctors had "deliberately and intentionally violated the
      law and therefore committed a criminal offence".

      He added that the doctors were being contemptuous of parliament which
      promulgated the labour laws and President Mugabe who enacted them.

      The labour court declared the doctors' strike illegal because, it said,
      the doctors did not follow legal procedures of channelling their
      grievances when they embarked on the strike.

      The court gave the government authority, as the doctors' employer, to
      take disciplinary action against any doctor who defied the order.

      Military doctors and consultant medical staff brought in from Cuba and
      the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), have been attending to serious
      and emergency cases at hospitals affected by the strike.

      Nurses who went on strike days after the doctors, have since returned
      to work after government promised to address their grievances. -
    • 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.


        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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