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  • Christine Chumbler
    State Resources Abused As President Gives Funding to NIB for UDF Research The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe) December 15, 2003 Posted to the web December 15,
    Message 1 of 1046 , Dec 16, 2003
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      State Resources Abused As President Gives Funding to NIB for UDF Research

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      December 15, 2003
      Posted to the web December 15, 2003

      Maxwell Zingani II
      Lilongwe

      The National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) has been given MK3 million by State President Bakili Muluzi so as to conduct in-depth research into whether or not his United Democratic Front (UDF) has a chance of winning sufficient parliamentary seats in the north, The Chronicle has learnt. Concerns about lost popularity has prompted this action.

      According to a source within the NIB, the president is doubtful that his party is going to win seats in the northern region and wants to gather data early so as to counter this development. That is why, the source says he has instructed the NIB to do this research. "We are currently involved in research deep in the villages to find out if the UDF will win many seats, if any in the Northern Region. However, there is also another group that is being used to campaign for the party in the north," said the source.


      She went on say that they have a brainstorming meeting every Thursday in Lilongwe to assess how those who are campaign for the party are doing and what it needs for them to make some impact on the electorate when the time comes. "On Thursday we normally meet in Lilongwe to report on how we are doing and how the situation is on the ground. Most of us are fed up with these Thursday meetings because they achieve little and make us lie about the situation," said the source.

      She said that most of the NIB officials who are involved in the research and are conducting the campaign on behalf of the UDF tell lies that the situation is OK and that the UDF is gaining ground in the north. "The truth is that people just want to get money from the President of the UDF but the fact is that we are finding that many people have already made up their minds and have vowed not to vote for the ruling UDF in the next year's coming elections," said the source indicating that the other parties are being better received. The people feel cheated and betrayed by AFORD and the manner in which the leader, Chakufwa Chihana is behaving.

      *****

      UDF/AFORD Strain Showing As Mzimba West Rejects AFORD Deputy Speaker for UDF

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      December 15, 2003
      Posted to the web December 15, 2003

      Pilirani Phiri
      Lilongwe

      Several chiefs and people of Mzimba West have allegedly barred their incumbent Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) Member of Parliament, Loveness Gondwe who is also first Deputy Speaker from holding rallies in the area on the grounds that she has completely failed to develop the constituency, The Chronicle has learnt.

      According to a Chronicle source in Mzimba, village headmen Chihaula and Chakulantha flanked by other people in the constituency recently told Gondwe when she addressed a rally on Saturday at Vwandamile Primary School ground that she has failed to develop the area.

      The source said during the rally that Gondwe addressed in the area (Vwandamile) people told her point blank that they no longer wanted her to contest in the area next year because she has failed to develop the area.

      Instead, they declared that they would support Catherene Hara - wife to Gotani Mkandawire, UDF Mzuzu Urban district governor - who is posed to make a challenge in 2004 on a UDF ticket. Ironically, AFORD is a party that is in coalition with the UDF. "All is not well between Gondwe and her constituents. She was booed throughout her rally until it ended prematurely. The electorate in the area have told her point blank that she should never, ever hold a rally in the area because she has failed to develop the area," said the source.

      People in the constituency, alleged the source, among other failures are accusing Gondwe of failing to repair three important boreholes at Vwandamile which has resulted in women walking long distances to fetch water in the bush.

      Apart from failing to repair the boreholes, Gondwe is also accused of negligence to people's needs by not supplying roofing plastic papers to the constituency for Jangavwa, Mtundura and Kapoto Junior Primary Schools that were leaking heavily until Gotani's wife came to the rescue.

      The source also informed The Chronicle that so far, Hara has repaired the boreholes using her own money and now people are drinking safe water like before. "It is not surprising that people in Mzimba West want Hara for MP because she has already started helping some areas in the constituency like in repairing the boreholes and supplying roofing papers to Junior Primary schools in the area," said the source.

      When The Chronicle contacted Hara to comment on her development roles in the constituency, the aspiring MP confirmed that she had indeed spent over K15,000 to repair the boreholes because, she said, people in the area were complaining to her that Gondwe was doing nothing for them. "What you have been told is very true. I repaired the boreholes and I was also asked by the constituents to help them with roofing black plastic papers because most of the grass thatched schools in the area leak during this time of the rainy season," said Hara.

      But when The Chronicle visited Gondwe's office at Parliament on Tuesday to seek her comments on the state of affairs in her constituency, the Deputy Speaker was reported to be in South Africa and was expected back this week.

      However, speaking in a face to face interview with The Chronicle and asked if he was aware of Gondwe's wrangle and her constituents, AFORD's deputy Publicity Secretary, Khwauli Msiska said he had not yet received any reports, saying he would investigate the matter.

      Despite the fact that the UDF and AFORD forming an electoral alliance prior to the 2004 elections animosities are expected and wrangles will emerge that show that the two parties still have strategies to work out as to which one fields a candidate in each constituency, especially in the north where AFORD believes is it's stronghold.

      The Nation newspaper recently quoted a senior AFORD member in the constituency, Maxwell Chakaka Nyirenda who accused the UDF saying that it was not good for the party to have another candidate contesting against Loveness Gondwe when the parties are in alliance. He indicated that the best option was for the UDF to support Gondwe and not introduce their own candidate.

      *****

      Kaleso Dismisses Resignation Rumours: 'NDA Approached Me, I Refused'

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      December 15, 2003
      Posted to the web December 15, 2003

      Pilirani Phiri
      Lilongwe

      At a time when his dissmissed colleague Joe Manduwa has openly joined the NDA, fired United Democratic Front (UDF) Minister of Commerce and Industry and also Member of Parliament (MP) for Mulanje South East, Peter Kaleso has dismissed rumours making the rounds that he has finally quit the UDF party saying the rumours have been doctored by his political enemies in the opposition.

      Sources close to the former minister, who was fired from Cabinet in December 2002 allegedly for his staunch opposition to the Third Term bill, informed The Chronicle last week said that Kaleso had submitted his resignation letter to the UDF party and that he was contemplating which opposition party to join. "A lot of resignations are expected in the UDF party when this Parliamentary session winds up, and so far it is alleged that former Commerce Minister Peter Kaleso has finally thrown in the towel and quit the party. He is yet to join another party," said the source.

      However, speaking Thursday in an interview with The Chronicle, Kaleso said the false rumours of his resignation might have originated from his political foes in the country, especially those from the opposition who want to destroy and terminate his political career. "The truth of the matter is that I have not resigned from the UDF and I have no intention of leaving the party. For your information, I am currently campaigning in my constituency in Mulanje which I will again contest on a UDF ticket. I am sure such rumours are originating from my political enemies. I am still very yellow," said Kaleso.

      The former Minister, who is also a reverend, suggested to The Chronicle that rumours of his resignation might be originating from Brown Mpinganjira's opposition party the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

      Kaleso revealed that he has, on more than three occasions been approached by the party to join them but he said he had refused on the grounds that the UDF is the only party that can help him retain his seat in Mulanje.

      When The Chronicle contacted NDA's Director of Political Affairs Viva Nyimba to comment on Kaleso's assertions that he had turned down NDA's offer, Nyimba declined to comment much on the issue saying he was not aware of Kaleso's claims.

      Kaleso, one of the UDF ministers who opposed the Third Term Bill which sought to amend section 83(3), was unceremo-niously fired from Cabinet in December 2002 and had his ministerial car seized immediately after he refused to meet with State President Bakili Muluzi at the Lilongwe State House when the President summoned him.

      Commenting on Kaleso's unceremonious removal, Muluzi told a rally at Chinsampo in Lilongwe that Kaleso had been dropped from cabinet not because of the Third Term issue as the President's critics alleged, but because Kaleso was rude to the State President. He, it is alleged, had refused to meet Muluzi who had summoned him to the State House to discuss his stance against the UDF and his rejection of Muluzi's ambition to amend the constitution to allow the President to continue ruling Malawi indefinitely.

      *****

      Fish Farming Master Plan Developed for Malawi

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      December 15, 2003
      Posted to the web December 15, 2003

      Rex Chalenga
      Lilongwe

      The government has acknowledged that Malawi has had to do without a well defined plan for the development of fish farming, such that potential investors have not been ably guided. This was the reaction from the Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs, Martha Nasho when she was guest of honour at a seminar recently that was sponsored by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which was aimed at developing a Master Plan for Aquaculture development in Malawi.

      Nasho said: "Government has not been able to determine the nature of support needed by private investors in fish farming," adding, "This plan will serve as the most reliable diagnosis of the difficulties that fish farming has had since it's establishment in the country four decades ago.' Speaking at the seminar, the Director of Fisheries, Sloans Chimatiro praised Japan for helping Malawi in various ways. Chimatiro singled out JICA saying that its contribution to the aquaculture Master Plan would increase food security in Malawi.

      'This seminar is one way Japan is helping Malawi. The Master Plan which shall be formulated will be put in place so as to enhance fish farming in Malawi. This will allow the increase of food security', said Chimatiro who also showed optimism in the Aquaculture Development Master Plan Project.

      He further said that this project should be off the ground by 2005.

      'Fish farming is not a new development in Malawi, it is just that, in the past it had no guidance. The Master Plan will be the guide that points out what needs to be done and the best way of doing it'.

      Speaking at the same seminar was the representative from JICA headquarters Mr. T Maekawa. He emphasized the need for communication between farmers and the study team of the project so as to establish a common ground.

      'I would like to request your understanding and cooperation in this study so that this study could play a useful role for the aquaculture development in Malawi'.

      Responding to JICA was the Deputy Secretary of MONREA, B. Kumwembe. In his speech Kumwembe thanked JICA for their support, stating that the Department of Fisheries can now see light at the end of the tunnel.

      'The Department of Fisheries has had to operate without a Master Plan since it was set up and now with JICA's support, the Master Plan will serve as a stepping stone. We have been groping in the dark for a very long time now, finally we are able to see light at the end of the tunnel', stated Kumwembe.

      Deputy Minister Nasho pointed out the need of fish to the nation.

      'For your information, fish, according to scientists, is considered the best brain food. It enhances mental capacity and development of the thought process', said Nasho.

      Nasho also noted the need for Malawi to integrate its resources in striving to increase food security: 'Time has now come when we should integrate various scientific and technological developments and, most importantly, the local or indigenous knowledge of the rural communities for sound policies and frameworks or plans in order to achieve enhanced and sustained fish production in the country.' She also pointed out that lack of guidance was the reason why government has not been able to determine the nature of support needed by private investors in fish farming.

      *****

      AGA Urges Girls to Fight Aids

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      December 15, 2003
      Posted to the web December 15, 2003

      Pilirani Phiri
      Lilongwe

      The Area 18 Girls Alliance (AGA), an all girls youth organisation that is specifically engaged in the fight against HIV/AIDS, has urged girls in the country to join forces and tackle the AIDS pandemic head on by spreading life skills, and HIV/AIDS awareness messages to fellow girls.

      Speaking Friday from Area 18 Kapita CCAP Church Hall during an HIV/AIDS sensitization meeting that the club held under the theme - Encouraging Girls To Partake In Youth Activities And Fight Against HIV/AIDS, AGA's President Laurine Kalirangwe said girls must be sensitized on the dangers of AIDS.

      Girls must be encouraged to join youth clubs where, she said, they can be equipped with life skills to help them prevent contracting AIDS because of engaging in risky behaviour. "We believe that if girls are given life skills they will make right and informed decisions on their own without being led astray by peer pressure, or listening and believing what men say without them contributing to the decisions they should make," said Kalirangwe.

      Kalirangwe also appealed to the girls to stop indulging in immoral behaviour and advised them to practice abstinence, saying it is the only sure way of prevention and becoming infected with the virus.

      Speaking at the same function, Area 18 A Group Headman Zimba commended AGA for its untiring efforts in sensitizing fellow girls on the fight against HIV/AIDS which he said is the young girl's enemy number one. "We, as elders are also leaving no stone unturned to help our young people to be free from this devastating scourge of HIV/AIDS and we feel that AGA is taking the right direction in giving AIDS messages to young people, especially to their fellow girls", said Zimba.

      He called on all parents in the country to discuss issues of HIV/AIDS with young people, saying it was high time parents interacted with them to map a way forward to fight the pandemic.

      Doreen Mbendera, Lilongwe District Youth Director also commended AGA, and other 'all girls' youth organisations in Lilongwe for their efforts in equipping fellow girls with life skills.

      AGA was formed in 2002 in order to help equip girls for proper and informed choices.

      The youth organisation, according to its vice President, Maureen Kumwenda, has a vision to see a changed Malawi with responsible young girls empowered economically, socially, and spiritually to help in national development.

      Statistics from UNICEF Malawi indicate that half of the new HIV/AIDS infections occur in young girls of ages between 14 - 25.

      *****

      Teenage Reproductive Health And HIV/Aids

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      December 15, 2003
      Posted to the web December 15, 2003

      Pushpa Jamieson
      Lilongwe

      The number of teenage pregnancies that occur in Malawi is still very high. 55% of women in the age group 20 - 24 are reported to have experienced a birth before the age of 20.

      It is also estimated that over 25% of abortions that are carried out occur in women below the age of 20. As abortions are illegal in Malawi and accurate figures are difficult to obtain, the percentage of abortions could be much higher than reported.

      Because Reproductive Health Providers (RHP) do not have specially formulated facilities that are youth friendly, teenagers do not access family planning methods. Coupled with the refusal of males to use condoms, many of these girls have unplanned and unwanted pregnancies.

      Because young girls do not access reproductive health facilities, the information that they have on contraceptives,sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV/AIDS is limited.

      Young teenage girls are making decisions concerning their sexual and reproductive health with very little information available to them. 18 year old Linda says she suffered pain in her lower abdomen for several weeks before she gathered enough courage to tell her parents that she was not feeling well. 'I was in such pain that I could not stand straight and had no choice but to tell my mother. ' Linda says when the pain first started, she thought nothing of it and took a mild painkiller to ease the pain. After some time, the pain got worse and eventually she needed to see a doctor.

      'I was very surprised when the doctor told me that I had a sexual infection. I do not have many boyfriends,' she says, adding, 'because although my boyfriend is married, I do not think that he has anyone else apart from me. I can not believe that he did this to me.' Asked if she had been to any family planning clinic to get information on her sexual health, Linda says she found it difficult because she felt uncomfortable using the facility.

      'I did go to a clinic in our area once, but while siting in the waiting room I became so uncomfortable because all the women that were there looked much older than me. Some of them were mothers and had their babies, I felt very out of place," she narrates Linda says if she had information on STIs she would have recognised the symptoms much earlier and used the RHP to address the situation.

      'Since I had to be taken to a doctor by my mother, she became aware of the problem and now there is some strain between her and me as a result' . She is also concerned about becoming infected with HIV and is working on going for Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) as soon as she can.

      Linda is just one of the may teenagers that have become sexually active with very little, or no information at all about their sexual and reproductive health. A large number of young people start having sex at a very young age in Malawi. The majority have no information on family planning and safer sex. Because they are so young, they will change sexual partners several times by the time they settle into marriage. This puts them at high risk of infection to HIV/AIDS.

      A recent study indicates that there has been a significant increase in STIs and unwanted pregnancies among young girls between the ages of 10 - 25 in some districts.

      The majority of new HIV/AIDS infections are occurring in youth between the ages of 15 - 24 which accounts for 42% of all new infections. HIV infections among this age group are five times higher than those in their male counterparts.

      Young people who represent the future wealth of human resources and the window of hope in the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Malawi have to realise their potential and be prepared to take up their roles and responsibilities.

      But this largely depends on the amount of support and investment they receive from government, NGOs, the general public and their families.

      They must, as a matter of urgency be provided with facilities that they can access comfortably for information and counseling on their Reproductive and Sexual Health.

      *****

      Use of Traditional Drums in Church Stirs Controversy

      African Church Information Service

      December 15, 2003
      Posted to the web December 15, 2003

      Hobbs Gama
      Blantyre

      The introduction of drums and other traditional musical instruments in some mainstream conventional churches here, has raised controversy.

      While many have embraced the practice, some clergymen have condemned it as "pagan and unscriptural".

      Rev Elias Soya of the Africa Evangelical Church, recalls that he once had to plead for pardon on behalf of a member of his church, who had been excommunicated for suggesting that there was nothing wrong with using drums during church service.

      "I had to do everything to convince the church's leadership to reinstate the member," says Soya.

      The Church of the Central Africa Presbeyerian (CCAP) does not object to the use of drums or any other instrument, provided that they are intended to praise and glorify God. It uses the flute, cymbals and stringed instruments.

      CCAP Blantyre Synod General Secretary, Rev Daniel Gunya, appreciates the reluctance of most churches to change practices in order to preserve the sanctity and originality of their service.

      But he acknowledges that Apostle Paul, through the Epistles, teaches the Church to comply with the culture of the day.

      Gunya notes that there is need to consider the limits of change, and that theologians ought to be engaged whenever effecting changes in the liturgy. "Some churches are conservative , others are moderate, and yet others are liberal," explains Gunya, adding that each had their own advantages and the negative sides.

      "The Presbyterian church is moderate. It marries the past with the present," he says, adding: "Experience has shown that liberal churches end up dying because everybody want things done their own way, and if their wishes are not accommodated, members leave the church."

      Professor Edward Barnes of the African Bible College in Blantyre admits that there is a problem in using drums in churches, as they were linked to erotic traditional dances at initiation ceremonies.

      "I appreciate the importance of change, but it should be in keeping with the scriptures. Whatever we adopt should be aimed at glorifying God," he argues.
    • Christine Chumbler
      ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17 The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22, 2006
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        ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        Chihana operated on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Mughogho is now in charge of the party.

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

        *****

        Pillane proposes presidential age limit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        Mussa hails new driving licence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        UDF demands investigation on Kasambara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land

        The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

        May 18, 2006

        Posted to the web May 19, 2006

        Andrew Lungu

         

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.

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

         

        *****

        Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests

        Harare, Zimbabwe

        22 May 2006 11:51

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

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

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

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

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

        Opposition protests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Crackdown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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