- Malawi opposition VP set to stay
Malawi President Bakili Muluzi has no constitutional powers to sack the vice president who joined the opposition.
President Muluzi described Justin Malewezi's defection from the ruling party as "foolish" and called on him to stand down as his deputy.
But Mr Malewezi says he intends to stay on as vice-president until May's general elections.
Constitutional lawyer Edge Kanyongolo told the BBC the deputy could stay in post unless he resigns or is impeached.
Mr Malewezi quit the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) on New Year's Eve and has joined the opposition People's Progressive Movement (PPM).
Dissent in the UDF began when Mr Muluzi anointed little known Economist Bingu wa Mutharika as the party's presidential candidate at the May elections, side stepping his long term deputy Malewezi.
He had earlier lost a spirited campaign to secure a third term in office.
Several senior ruling UDF officials resigned in protest over Mr Wa Mutharika's anointment while some were fired from their party positions for publicly opposing the president's choice.
Five months ago the ruling party entered a loose alliance with the country's second largest opposition party, the Alliance for Democracy (Aford) whose leader Chakufwa Chihana, was named second vice-president.
Women Have the Opportunity to Reach 30% in 2004 Elections
The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
January 12, 2004
Posted to the web January 12, 2004
Christopher Sande EC Stringer
Gender Electoral Support Network (GESN) Executive Director Reen Kachere said the 2004 elections could be an opportunity to fulfil the 30 % women's involvement in political participation and decision making structures as espoused by SADC. Kachere said this recently during a mobilisation meeting in Mwanza. She said political parties should strategise on what they have to include in their policies in order to increase women's participation.
She stated that parties should submit the names of women participating in constituencies to GESN in order to receive support. "This will help us teach the women about things like public speaking and what they are supposed to do while in parliament," she said.
She further said that it was encouraging that women were gradually taking the challenge and are competing in the forthcoming elections. "Many women have publicly showed interest in standing for different constituencies in the country," Kachere explained.
Mwanza District Commissioner Representative Joseph Bodere said there should be intensive sensitisation and civic education on the people so as to have a good number of women represented in parliament. "People need to be informed and taught as early as possible,' he said.
Bodere however, said it was sad that many parties in the district have already conducted the primary elections. "It is a bit of a problem because males have already been elected to various positions in preparation for the coming elections," Bodere explained.
Chief Mchoseni said women play a important role in political and economic development and that they have all the qualifications fitting to stand for any position. "It is true that women strengthen political parties from the grassroots level," he explained.
Malawi Congress Party (MCP), Malawi Forum for Democracy (MAFUNDE), Malawi Democratic Union (MDU), Malawi Democratic Party (MDP) are the parties that attended the meeting and all said that they would support women to attain more seats in the forthcoming elections.
Aids Expert Takes Faith Healers to Task Over Pandemic
African Church Information Service
January 12, 2004
Posted to the web January 12, 2004
A number of religious institutions in Malawi are at pains to justify their actions on members who are living with HIV/AIDS.
An end-of-the-year meeting here, organised by the Malawi Network for people living with HIV/AIDS (MANET), attracted controversy over allegations that some churches ex-communicated members who tested HIV-positive, on grounds that their infection was due to immoral behaviour.
One of the key speakers at the meeting was Linsey Misoya, a senior counsellor for Malawi AIDS Counselling Organisation (MACRO).
She alleged that some churches ex-communicated people living with HIV/AIDS, while others refused to officiate marriages if a member of the wedding couple was found to be HIV-positive and the other negative.
Misoya, whose organisation also conducts voluntary HIV testing services, accused unnamed churches of confusing people by claiming that they could cure AIDS.
She revealed that many people living with HIV were flooding MACRO premises for blood re-tests after being told by church leaders that they had been healed during "deliverance sessions".
She pointed out that as much as religious organisations were more knowledgeable on matters of faith and spirituality, her organisation, MACRO, specialised in HIV/AIDS issues, noting that for the battle against AIDS to be won, faith groups and AIDS organisations needed to speak one language.
"So why do churches promise AIDS patients healing when 'experts on the matter' say there is no cure to the pandemic?" posed Misoya.
She regretted that HIV/AIDS patients, who failed to be cured after several attempts at "deliverance sessions", were told by church leaders that they lacked "faith".
There were mixed reactions to Misoya's assertions from various church leaders.
Rev Macdonald Kadawati, who is the Moderator of the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) Synod of Blantyre, said churches dealt mainly with spiritual and not physical healing. "As a church, we know that AIDS has no cure. But God can do anything, anytime, anywhere. So, we cannot completely dismiss physical healing," he said.
Rev Kadawati, however, cautioned "miracle workers" against presuming that all those they laid hands on got healed. He reiterated that healing hinged on faith and that faith being subjective, not everyone could be healed by it.
Rev Kadawati's remarks were echoed by the head of Charismatic Renewal Ministries, Mark Kambalazaza.
Kambalazaza, a former Catholic priest who renounced his priestly vows two years ago to become a charismatic pastor, said: "Even in the time of Jesus, some were healed, others not."
Pastor Luckwell Mtima of the Zambezi Evangelical Church shared the same view. According to him, history is replete with examples of people who got healed of AIDS. Even though he did not give specific examples, many people have given testimonies of how they were healed from various diseases "in the name of Jesus".
Keith Banda, a pastor in one of Malawi's charismatic Pentecostal churches, Living Waters, said "AIDS is like any other disease. As such, we believe Jesus can cure any disease, including AIDS".
Pastor Banda also spoke on marriage between spouses of different HIV sero-status. "As a church, we perform rites on behalf of God. We have no mandate to stop those who are committed to one another from exchanging vows. As a church, we believe in the commission of Jesus, which says: 'Come all who are heavily laden'," he said.
But Kambalazaza had a different view: "It is wrong to tell those infected with HIV to go ahead with marriage. Why should one commit oneself to problems?" he queried.
He, however, described the practice of ex-communicating people infected with HIV as satanic. This view was shared by Rev Kadawati, who described it as "un-Christian".
Posted to the web
Registration Starts Under Cloudy Environment
The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
January 12, 2004
Posted to the web January 12, 2004
The registration process for the 2004 general elections has started in earnest amidst controversies on the ground which need to be addressed if there is to be free and fair elections on May 18th.
The Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) is accused of playing 'hide and seek' in the preparations for the next year's general elections.
The postponement of the registration period from last November to January has been described as strong evidence that the Commission is not ready nor adequately equipped to hold the elections in May 2004.
The month of January as the registration period was also received with mixed reaction by the public who said that there was a possibility of voter apathy if the majority could not turn up for registration due to the rains.
The Malawi Electoral Support Network (MESN), in collaboration with the Blantyre Synod Church and Society programme shared the same concern.
They indicated that there would be voter apathy should heavy rains occur which could hinder people from going to the polling stations to register. "Registration might really be problematic considering that the month of January is the rainy period.
'Voter apathy is expected as some people will not turn up for registration, especially those from areas which are far from the polling stations," said Billy Muyaya, the programme officer for Blantyre Synod's Church and Society programme.
MESN also raised concerns, and is campaigning for the removal of UDF's yellow materials, including plastic chairs distributed to most government schools which are to be used as polling stations.
MESN expressed concern on the issue that some accredited Non Governmental Organisations meant to provide civic and voter education to the masses are not yet funded, saying the responsible body, the MEC, are saying the delay is due to some logistical problems.
Robson Chitengo, a member of MESN said it is time the MEC explains the delay in detail, as to why some institutions are not yet funded - rather than just pointing fingers at each other.
The MEC has also been blamed for wasting time producing information materials on tripartite elections when they knew that the bill to amend the electoral law and hold tripartite elections was in the hands of parliament.
The bill was rejected by the opposition and failed to muster sufficient support. Although the Commission has denied that they had produced materials in reference to tripartite elections, they, after a briefing with the press recently in Blantyre contradicted themselves when they distributed some of the information materials like caps in vernacular language saying: "Chisankho cha Pulezidenti, Phungu wa Nyumba ya Malamulo ndi Khansala mu chaka cha 2004' with a Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) logo on top.
The registration process which is meant to capture all new voters, remove those who have dies and confirm those already registered will last for two weeks from 5th to the 18th January , 2004.
Pilot Fatigue Blamed On Air Malawi Crash
The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
January 12, 2004
Posted to the web January 12, 2004
Information reaching The Chronicle indicate that the cause of the airplane crash in Mzuzu which saw the 2nd Vice President Chakufwa Chihana and his wife receive some injuries has been blamed on pilot fatigue.
In a recent development, The Chronicle received information from an Air Malawi member of staff who indicated that pilots are working too hard and doing lots of extra flying to the point that they are fatigued physically and mentally. Most of them, our source indicates are in no condition to be entrusted with the lives of passengers in the air.
Apparently, Malawian pilots are in great demand because of the superior training they receive and have been easily finding more lucrative jobs elsewhere. A newly established airline working out of Tanzania called Precision Air is also said to be recruiting Malawi's pilots. This act in turn is leaving fewer pilots at home to fly to all the other destinations that Malawi is committed to. According to the source, sometimes pilots just land from one destination and they are assigned to fly to another before they can get any real rest.
When asked about this new development, Nelson Mambulasa, who is the Station Manager at Chileka Airport, sternly replied that he did not know about the allegations and could not answer any more questions concerning that matter.
'I do not know whether that pilot was tired or not because I was not there when he crashed. In order for me to know such a thing, I must have been near the pilot, and I wasn't,' said Mambulasa who added, 'I will not answer any more questions concerning that matter because I do not know a thing about it.' He then instructed The Chronicle to call Air Malawi Limited and talk to the Chief Executive. Surprisingly when this reporter called the number, the secretary of the Chief Executive refused, even after much persuasion, to let him talk to the Chief Executive.
'Salanje has told me he does not want to receive any calls from the members of the press or anyone who is probing into the airplane crash. He has no comments to make because he is still waiting for a report. Try calling later,' stated the secretary who wouldn't give her name.
Efforts to reach the Senior Station Supervisor to comment on this issue were also barred by his secretary on the same basis.
Sermons On Good Governance Mark Polls Prayers in Malawi
African Church Information Service
January 12, 2004
Posted to the web January 12, 2004
Over 30 religious institutions from across Malawi have conducted inter-denomination prayers to set off the country on a good note, ahead of general elections slated for May 18.
The prayers, which were organised by Churches Development Co-ordinating Committee (CDCC), an arm of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi, were held here on January 4. They touched on social and economic issues, with concerns over political violence featuring prominently on the sermon.
Although the organisers did not extend invitations to political parties, top opposition political leaders attended the prayers in their personal capacities.
The theme of the event, which also served as a means of educating the masses on the forthcoming general elections, was, God Heal Our land.
The churchmen cited "poor governance and party-sponsored violence" as factors that hampered socio-economic development of the country.
They took turns to pray for the election of a God-fearing leader, who would uphold the rule of law and protect the country's institutions.
Philip Mbeta of the Roman Catholic Church, accused the government of promoting chiefs for political gains, and of randomly establishing districts for the same reasons.
The newly created districts, he said, remained undeveloped, despite increasing the number of parliamentarians.
Mbeta questioned the wisdom of the government increasing state visits, instead of pumping money into schools to enable them open in time.
He was alluding to the delayed opening of public secondary schools in the country, as well as the polytechnic in Blantyre, due to lack of funds. The polytechnic, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, is in a serious financial crisis.
The development has forced the management of the college to postpone opening day for this year's first semester.re in
Just like other constituent colleges of the University of Malawi, the polytechnique has of late been facing financial difficulties due to either delayed or lack of government funding.
The registrar made no mention of the financial crisis facing the institution, and officials from the college would not be drawn to comment on the matter.
But government sources indicate that the Ministry of Education owes the polytechnic Malawi Kwacha 60 million (about US$ 600,000).
These incidents have time and again erupted into violence by students complaining of having had their time wasted in prolonged closures because of government's failure to release money for running the college.
Recently, a group of irate students from the polytechnic blocked the entrance to the campus after officials from the Malawi Telecommunications Limited (MTL) cut the college's phone lines due to outstanding bills.
The South is Mine - Gwanda Chakuamba
The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
January 12, 2004
Posted to the web January 12, 2004
Former Vice President of the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) who has formed his own new Republican Party (RP) has declared that all MCP supporters and MPs from the Southern Region will now follow him because he was the stepping stone for the MCP in the region.
Chakuamba told The Chronicle in a telephone interview that his stance is quite contrary to that of the MCP President, John Tembo who told BBC that those who form their parties in January when the elections are only four months away never win. Chakuamba believes he will campaign for and win the presidency in May. "Four months is a long period for campaigning. It is a short period for a woman to conceive, but for campaigning - it is a very long period. I have been in Malawi's politics since 1958 and I know what it takes for one to be successful. For your information, all the MCP supporters in the Southern Region are mine and I have some MPs like Manifesto Kayira and Webster Kameme from the other regions with me. There are many more who will be joining me as we progress," said Chakuamba sounding confident and jovial.
But John Tembo speaking in another interview with BBC last Friday said that despite the fact that Chakuamba was expressing his democratic right, the timing of his departure from MCP was regrettable but would not affect the MCP.
Said Tembo: "Normally, parties that are formed when the elections are just around the corner don't win elections because they are formed just to cause confusion." But Chakuamba explained that his party is not bent on causing confusion among Malawians but rather, to consolidate democracy.
Asked if he is going to form an alliance with any other party Chakuamba said: "I am the father of Alliances in Malawi. I was the first person who approached Chakufwa Chihana in 1999 with the idea of forming an alliance and it worked. It was only unfortunate that they said we lost the elections which I know I won." Chakuamba also disclosed that his party is going to work with all other parties that want to form a 'Grand Alliance' and if he is not elected president for the alliance he will support whoever is chosen to lead the coalition.
Asked to comment on Chakuamba's resignation from the MCP National Democratic Alliance (NDA) President Brown Mpinganjira, who is a close associate of Gwanda said that Chakuamba was exercising his democratic right by quitting the MCP. "It is not wrong for Chakuamba to form his own party. Those who form parties have got their own reasons for forming them and Chakuamba must have very good reasons. We will definitely work with him to dislodge the UDF from power," Mpinganjira said.
MCP Publicity Secretary Steve Ching'ang'a said Chakuamba's resignation will have major repercussions on the MCP.
'It will be disastrous. I can foresee an exodus from MCP to join Chakuamba," Ching'ang'a said.
Chakuamba and Tembo have been at loggerheads for a long time and political analysts believe that the two will never work together. "We expected Chakuamba's resignation. After all, it was him who wanted to finish Tembo off politically when he took him to court - but the move backfired badly when Tembo won his case.
It is alleged that Tembo was the one who frustrated the MCP/AFORD Alliance when he kept telling people during his rallies that they should vote for MCP MPs but not the party President Gwanda Chakuamba. "The way I see it, Chakuamba is just getting his revenge for what Tembo did in 1999 against him and that is why he has left him at a time he needs him most. Choipa chitsata mwini (The evil one does follows you)" said a political analyst based in Zomba intimating that Tembo was getting his just reward after treating Chakuamba so badly when he was president of the MCP.
Fat cats are rolling in money in Malawi
Frank Phiri | Blantyre
13 January 2004 08:21
Corrupt 'fat cats' in Malawi continue to walk around with their heads held high even though they have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar. The consequences of their acts are set to remain a burden on this poor Southern African country of more than 11-million people as it prepares to go to the polls in May.
The problem began three years ago when Malawi's Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) arrested a number of suspects, after the public accounts committee of Parliament audit report revealed K187-million (about $1,8-million), meant for building schools and support infrastructure, went missing.
Within a week, Brown Mpinganjira, the then minister of foreign affairs, was sacked.
Later the government arrested and recalled a number of other suspects from Europe where they had been posted on diplomatic duties. For years, Malawians have accused their government of shielding corrupt officials.
Two years later, a court in Malawi's commercial hub, Blantyre, cleared Mpinganjira of corruption allegations. In a dramatic twist of events, Mpinganjira formed an opposition party, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). He used the party machinery to reaffirm his claims that the charges against him had been concocted by government to ruin his political career.
Critics blame prosecutors for their failure to bring evidence to court to prove cases of corruption. In fact, the majority of the allegedly corrupt officials have either walked away from the claims or their cases are gathering dust in courts.
"The perception is that the ACB has failed. If it's failing to prosecute because of lack of evidence, it should come out in the open and say so, otherwise it will remain a drain on taxpayers' money," said Rodgers Newa, chairperson of the Human Rights Consultative Committee.
The anti-corruption bureau has admitted losing over K7-billion (about $67-million) in seven years through cases involving cabinet ministers and senior officials, which, it claims, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has refused to prosecute
The amount wasted on unconcluded corruption cases is K3-billion (about $29-million).
The anti-corruption bureau records show that the major cases which the DPP has refused to prosecute has led to a loss of K7-billion, including the K187-million (about-$1,8-million) Ministry of Education scam, the $32-million national identity scandal, the $10-million Land Rover scandal, the K78-million ($743 000) tax evasion by a sugar baron and top government officials, and the K2,9-billion ($27,1-million) sale of maize from the strategic reserves.
The Land Rover contract was awarded to a suspected briefcase car dealer, which supplied 63 vehicles to government. According to ACB's investigations, the firm is not registered in Malawi and that the vehicles it supplied were second hand bought in neighbouring Mozambique.
The anti-corruption bureau has made recommendations on 1 305 out of 2 697 cases since 1997. From these, 48 were referred to DPP with applications for consent for 142 suspects. The DPP gave consent to prosecute 105 suspects and declined to give consent for 37 suspects.
"As can be seen, the Bureau completed these investigations in as far as it was permitted to do so. Final completion, therefore, lies with the DPP and not ACB," said Justice Michael Mtegha, director of the anti-corruption bureau.
Irked by DPP's delay to act, the bureau submitted a request to the Malawi Law Commission in November seeking removal by Parliament of the consent requirement.
But cabinet threw out the proposal.
DPP's Farhad Assani says the anti-corruption unit and any other investigating agency should not rush into seeking more powers through amendments to laws just to cover inefficiencies.
"Why should ACB want to be treated differently? I treat the police, courts and other public offices in the same way. Investigating agencies should not be allowed to manipulate laws with a view to conceal some investigations and inefficiencies," said Assani.
Donors have threatened to freeze further disbursements of the balance-of-payment support to Malawi.
They say they cannot continue injecting money in a country that is corrupt, and whose suspects are often not prosecuted.
"Putting money in a country where corruption is not controlled is a waste," said Steven Browning, the US envoy to Malawi.
Browning urged the government to clean up its house. Failure or delays to do so would force Washington to disqualify the southern African country from President George Bush's Millennium Challenge Account which promises $15-billion for developing countries once approved by Congress, he said.
The World Bank and European donors, led by Britain, have already withheld aid to Malawi. They are waiting for the outcome of the May 18 general elections.
At stake is $80-million, half of which was committed by the World Bank under its Structural Adjustment Credit and the remainder by the European donors.
Negotiations have been halted as the donors await a review of Malawi's economic performance by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Anthony Mukumbwa, spokesperson for the opposition Malawi Forum for Unity and Development party, has lashed out at the ruling party for failing to deal with its top brass, which is at the centre of the backlog of corruption cases. He warns legislators to brace for voter apathy in the May polls because voters, he says, have lost confidence in them.
Hitting back, Mary Kaphwereza Banda, the ruling party's deputy publicity secretary, says the government is bearing the brunt because people were not looking in other direction to trace corruption.
"Where is the evidence that everyone in (the ruling) UDF is corrupt? Corruption is not just in the UDF, even opposition parties, churches and the journalists who write about it in the press are corrupt," said Banda, who is also minister responsible for HIV/AIDS Management.
Transparency International, the global watchdog, has placed Malawi among the most corrupt countries in the world in its December report.
Malawi shares the slot with India at number 83. Nigeria and Bangladesh are at the worst positions of 132 and 133, respectively.
Putting on a brave face, Finance Minister Friday Jumbe said 'corruption did not start with the UDF government'.
"The question Western donors should be asking themselves is why corruption is rampant in Third World countries. The answer is poverty. Poor people are vulnerable to manipulation," he argued. - IPS
Former Zim farmers bring jobs to Mozambique
13 January 2004 15:37
White Zimbabwean commercial farmers have created more than 4 000 jobs in neighbouring Mozambique, where they settled after being ousted from their land back home, a regional governor said on Tuesday.
"The Zimbabwean farmers with about 1 000ha of land each have so far generated a total of 4 118 new jobs," said Soares Nhaca, governor of the central Mozambican province of Manica, where the farmers settled.
Nhaca said there are about 100 Zimbabwean farmers in the fertile districts of Manica province, growing traditional cash crops such as tobacco, cotton and maize.
Most of the new jobs are on tobacco farms, the governor said, adding that some farmers also grow mangoes and millet for export to South Africa.
The majority of the Zimbabwean commercial farmers have been alloted land in the two districts of Barue and Sussundenga, near the border with Zimbabwe.
Mozambique has taken a cautious approach to requests from white farmers for land, hoping to avoid replicating Zimbabwe's inequitable pattern of land ownership, in which the tiny white minority owned more than one-quarter of the nation's land.
In 2000, the Zimbabwean government accelerated a land reform programme under which land was seized from white farmers and redistributed to landless blacks.
Since then, more than three-quarters of Zimbabwe's 4 500 white commercial farmers have been expropriated of about 11-million hectares.
All land in Mozambique belongs to the state and cannot be sold.
The Constitution only allows land to be leased.
Manica province, which borders Zimbabwe, is the most sought-after by foreign farmers.
Nhaca said his government has also received land requests from South African farmers.
The whole of central and northern Mozambique possesses land with almost the same characteristics as those in Manica -- good soil and climate. -- Sapa-AFP
Zimbabwe 'apologist' cracks the whip
13 January 2004 15:00
A day after a Zimbabwean editor and two reporters were released from jail, they found themselves threatened by the government again, this time for alleged racism.
A letter from Tafataona Mahoso, the head of the Media Commission which is the government's press control body, accused the privately owned Zimbabwe Independent weekly of racism after the newspaper published a letter saying Zimbabweans were as docile as "a herd of wild beasts".
He said the letter was "typical of the worst expressions of racism from the former slave territories of the United States, from apartheid South Africa, and from the days of (white minority) Rhodesia".
Mahoso, whose organisation controls the licences for journalists to practise, said: "All publishers and editors in Zimbabwe should consider this statement as a warning to them as well, and not just to the Zimbabwe Independent."
Independent editor Iden Wetherell said that Mahoso's threat was linked to the commission's ability to "manipulate the issue of licences to journalists".
On Monday Wetherell and reporters Dumisani Muleya and Vincent Kahiya were released on bail after being accused of "criminal defamation" for a report last week that said President Robert Mugabe had "commandeered" one of the national airline's planes to take him on holiday to the Far East.
Wetherell said he rejected the charges and would mount a "very robust defence" to the case against them.
The letter denounced by Mahoso, signed apparently by a black Zimbabwean, said Zimbabweans were "a stupid lot" and compared them to "a herd of wild beasts" who stand and watch while one of their number is caught and killed by pride of lions.
The letter was complaining about Zimbabweans' failure to defend themselves against the repression of Mugabe's regime.
Mahoso said the alleged racism in the letter was "absolute and sweeping."
Wetherell said: "We do not accept his view that writers are necessarily being racist when they say Zimbabweans are docile in standing up to tyranny. That is a view in the national discourse, whether we as a society are doing enough to fight the depredations of the Zimbabwe regime.
"Mahoso is an apologist to the regime and he won't allow criticism of the regime. He is dressing it up as racism."
He referred to a recent report by the Media Monitoring Project in Zimbabwe last month that accused the government media of "hate mongering" and "inciting violence," and said they were was copying of the propaganda strategy of Radio Machete, the "hate" radio station in the Rwanda genocide in 1994.
"It is shocking that Mahoso has never acted on these issues, or on the unprofessionalism of the state media," he said. - Sapa
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
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
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.
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