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  • Christine Chumbler
    I Will Not Quit - Mpasu... Despite Rumours Saying He Intends to Leave UDF The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe) January 12, 2004 Posted to the web January 12,
    Message 1 of 1046 , Jan 14, 2004
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      I Will Not Quit - Mpasu... Despite Rumours Saying He Intends to Leave UDF

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      January 12, 2004
      Posted to the web January 12, 2004

      Wezie Nyirongo
      Lilongwe

      Sam Mpasu has refuted rumours making their rounds that he will be resigning from the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) party to join one of the opposition parties that are planning to form a strong coalition to dislodge the ruling party from power in the forthcoming elections. Mpasu is one of the oldest and founding members of the ruling UDF.

      In an exclusive interview Mpasu, who is also the Commerce and Industry Minister explained to The Chronicle that the rumours about his resignation are possibly spread by his fellow party colleagues who do not wish him to be in the party. He added that even the opposition could be spreading such rumours because they think he should not be in the UDF and would wish him to join them.


      For some time, even before Vice President Justin Malewezi resigned, there have been reports that Mpasu was contemplating resigning from the party.

      The reports indicated that since the misunder-standings that Mpasu had with President Muluzi when he was forced to vacate the high office of the Speaker of the National Assembly their relationship had been bad and he was being forced into a decision to resign.

      A cabinet portfolio - well below his status was unceremoniously forced onto him without notice and without consulting him on the matter.

      Mpasu, who has also served as the party's Secretary General said the "misunderstandings with President Muluzi" which were there when he was dismissed from the National Assembly and offered a ministerial position were solved amicably and there is no issue to worry about now. He told The Chronicle that he is now settled and does not think of resigning because the issue is over.

      Asked whether he is aware of the reports making their rounds that he is resigning from the UDF, he said: "I am aware of that and I have been receiving so many phone calls asking me why I am resigning. And I told them they are just rumours spread around by people who do not want me in the UDF." Responding to a question on why it is him that is talked about so far as resigning, Mpasu, in a relaxed mood explained that for some time some senior UDF officials were not comfortable with him in the party together with Aleke Banda, Harry Thomson and Justin Malewezi whom they labelled 'the big four." He said since the time of the much talked about third term bill Mpasu, Banda, Thomson and Malewezi were linked together as the "big four' and were regarded as rebels in the party. And when Thomson and Aleke Banda said they harboured presidential ambitions they were removed from cabinet and resigned thereafter resigned from the party, they expected him to be the next one to resign, Mpasu explained. "We were now the two of us left, myself and Honourable Malewezi and people expected me to resign first, long before Malewezi. Now that Malewezi has resigned, all eyes are on me and they would like me to go as well," said Mpasu with a twinkle in his eye.

      He added that there are also some elements in the opposition who would wish the "big four" to join them in their respective parties. "I am aware there are some elements within the opposition who wished the big four to leave the UDF so that this can be an asset to them." "The big four has been the talk of the party and now the three have gone. I haven't taken any further decision to leave the party as long as they wish me to be there. I am UDF and have been UDF since the founding days. After all, I started my political life in the UDF, " Mpasu said adding, "my principle is - if there is something wrong in the party, it is better to make proposals on what you think is wrong to the executive from within the party. In this case if there is something wrong in the UDF we must make the changes within, not outside." Asked his personal view on the resignation of Malewezi, he told The Chronicle that every party gets disappointed when a senior or any member of the party resigns. He said in this case it is time the UDF as a party reflects on it and finds out why most senior members are resigning from the party where they have served for years. "Everyone in the party gets disappointed when one of its members resigns and really, everyone is disappointed at the way Malewezi has gone. Gaps can always be filled but it depends on how and who fills the gap. Any party that loses its senior members has got reason for regret." "And now it is time for us to sit back and reflect on why people are leaving us,' said Mpasu who is also Member of Parliament for Ntcheu Central constituency.

      The UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala when asked on what the party is intending to do to stop Mpasu resigning said that Mpasu is well respected in the party because he is one of the founding members and they wouldn't let him go. Makwangwala said since he is regarded as one of the senior people in the party, every member in the party respects him. He claimed that the rumour could have been started by some junior members in Mpasu's constituency who do not wish him well in the party. "We still love him, he is still UDF and will remain UDF. He shouldn't fear because we still respect him as one of the founders of the party. Maybe some juniors in his constituency are the ones who do not wish him well and are talking bad about him," said Makwangwala.

      Recent reports indicated that Mpasu would be resigning and joining MAFUNDE, the party that begins its own convention next week. There were also claims that he is the one who will be sponsoring the MAFUNDE Convention. Mpasu refuted the reports saying he doesn't even know MAFUNDE but said he only knows George Mnensa who happens to be the leader of the party.

      He said no one has ever approached him from MAFUNDE and they are just rumours that he will be sponsoring it's convention.

      *****

      UDF MP Complains

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      January 12, 2004
      Posted to the web January 12, 2004

      Christopher Jimu
      Lilongwe

      Member of Parliament for Mangochi Northeast Constituency, Ali Sikelo has complained to the party Secretary General of harassment perpetrated by supporters of his rival, a Mwechumu who wants to stand as an MP in the same area.

      In a letter dated December 29, 2003 sourced by The Chronicle Sikelo complains that supporters of Mwechumu are moving around in the constituency carrying knives and denouncing him as well as spoiling his name. "I have decided to write you this letter to inform you about the political situation in my constituency. Five constituency committee members have decided to accompany Mr Mwechumu with people carrying knives, holding meetings which abuse me and the entire constituency leadership. I think this is wrong because campaign (sic) has not yet started, I think this is also wrong for the leadership of the District to be going round with a person of that kind because they were supposed not to take positions in that situation," reads part of the hand-written letter.


      Sikelo goes on to complain about the way the district committee officials are treating him - saying that they may frustrate him during the forthcoming Primary Elections.

      The letter goes on: "Honourable Secretary General, during the recent District Conference in Mangochi Honourable Regional Governor of the South Hon. Chikakwiya and his deputy stopped members of the district committee going round with people aspiring to be MPs, but these people have ignored that advice. The district governor of Malindi District called these five people and reminding (sic) them of what the regional governor had said during the conference but they answered badly and declared that they will never stop because they cannot take any advice from the Regional Leadership." Sikelo went on to allege that the five people are Ambirose Hamisi who is Secretary of the District, Nlomba Maliro, Director of Campaigns, Hawa Mzee Committee member and Daud Aironi.

      Sikelo finally warns that if the situation continues he would also take a stand. "We shall have to protect ourselves from the war declared on us by the few district members. We can't leave them going on doing things which at the end will confuse the people and harm us," Sikelo concludes.

      When contacted for comment UDF Secretary General, Kennedy Makwangwala said that he had seen the letter from Honourable Sikelo and they were going to call the two warring parties to a round table conference to resolve their differences. "We know there are problems in that constituency and, as a party we will go there and talk to them because it is only through contact and dialogue that misunderstandings are resolved.' The animosity between the Sikelo and Mwechumu has been further exacerbated by President Muluzi's recent declaration that he would only support the incumbent MP because he is already in office.

      Commenting on Muluzi's sentiments Makwangwala said that the president was only supporting an incumbent MP and there was nothing wrong with that.

      Misunderstandings have rocked the ruling United Democratic Front regarding the issue of primaries.

      It is alleged that President Muluzi is afraid of calling for primaries because some of the people aspiring to contest on the UDF ticket might be plants of the opposition parties who would deliberately lose against their conspirators.

      *****

      Interview With the New Congress for Democracy Interim President Dr. Hetherwick Ntaba

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      INTERVIEW
      January 12, 2004
      Posted to the web January 12, 2004

      Pilirani Phiri
      Lilongwe

      Malawi Congress Party (MCP) former Publicity Secretary Hetherwick Ntaba recently quit the party and announced the formation of his own party, the New Congress for Democracy (NCD), putting to rest rumours and accusations from within the party that he had secretly joined the ruling UDF party.

      The Chronicle's PILIRANI PHIRI recently caught up with the NCD interim President at his house in Lilongwe for an exclusive interview to seek his views relating to the formation of his new party. Excerpts.


      After constant accusations from your party colleagues that you had secretly joined the UDF party because you escorted President Muluzi's mother to hospital in South Africa you have now finally decided to form your own party. Why, and what motivated you to decide to come up with this decision at this time when we have only five months to go before the elections?

      The decision to form a new party was inevitable because I feel I have suffered enough from MCP, the party which I have served for a long time. It was the same MCP leadership that went all over spitting that I had joined the UDF party just because, being a medical doctor, I escorted Muluzi's mother to South Africa.

      You can also recall that the same MCP leadership - three times caused my expulsion from Parliament. They frustrated my chance to becoming Speaker of Parliament in 1999, destroyed my chances of becoming Leader of the Opposition, expelled me from the party's National Executive Committee (Nec), and I am reliably informed that the party's President, John Tembo had plotted that he should not sign my nomination papers to ensure that I am unable to contest for the parliamentary elections in my constituency. So I feel forming a new party has been the right decision for me, because if I were to join another party the same MCP leadership would continue saying that I am hungry for power.

      There is speculation that President Muluzi is behind the formation of the NCD and is just a political strategy that will eventually see you joining the UDF - how far true is this?

      These rumours are just one of those cheap and senseless ploys aimed at confusing the masses and NCD well wishers in particular. NCD has no strings attached to the UDF.

      Suppose the UDF came to you and asks you to enter into an alliance with them, how would you handle that?

      I would simply carry the matter to the party level and have it democratically discussed and then act on the party's decision. Its a matter for the party, not for an individual.

      How is NCD prepared for the 2004 general elections as an opposition party - will it join the currently proposed opposition Grand Coalition?

      Its too early to say because, like I earlier said, any decision to be made will be first discussed by the party.

      How confident are you that your party will win any seats in the elections after such short preparations?

      I think the business of opposition political parties is not only to get into power and rule but also to rescue power if they fail to get it.

      Opposition parties should not only tell the electorate what they will do if they get into power - but also tell the masses what they will do if they fail to get into power and remain in opposition. Getting into power should not be the only goal but also to serve the people of Malawi politically.

      The opposition should be in a position to know how to criticise government in an effective way to help in national development. The opposition should know how to effectively criticise government's over-expenditure, any of government's over-expenditure should be critically checked and then approved or disapproved. But here in Malawi, as an opposition, we fail miserably because we just approve everything in Parliament.

      So, if most people think the way you are thinking that NCD will fail miserably because it has come at a time when parties are preparing for their 2004 elections campaign then you might be right - but if NCD has two objectives to get power or rescue power and help in national development then we have ample time.

      In other words you wouldn't mind to see NCD failing to get into power next year?

      (smile) Politics is a game of win and lose. Whether I am in government or opposition I want to make good of it.

      What does NCD's manifesto contain?

      It is too early to disclose now but I think I have outlined some of our manifesto points in the questions I have so far answered.

      When is NCD going to hold it's convention?

      It will be very soon.

      Who in MCP are likely to quit the party and follow you to NCD ?

      There are several MCP officials who will soon also announce that they have joined the NCD. For their security's sake I need not to mention names.

      For a long time there have been splits in MCP and by taking some members to join you it will mean further splitting the troubled party. Are you happy to see MCP - the party you have served for a long time - further splitting?

      Politics is a game of numbers and so we have to share the votes. So if new members from MCP or any other party come to join me I will be happy to welcome them.

      How do you react to Gwanda Chakuamba leaving the MCP?

      I am not at all surprised by his move. As a matter of fact, as long as John Tembo remained president of the MCP it was inevitable that Chakuamba would leave. The vice president was only waiting for the outcome of the Supreme Court and was confident that Tembo was going to be convicted. When this turned out the way it did, it was only a matter of time.

      That being the case, and another party is formed, who would you rather work with now, Tembo of MCP or Chakuamba of the Republican Party?

      In politics, one cannot be considered a permanent friend, nor a permanent enemy. I will hear what they are saying and look at what they are doing but I must say that my political survival is not dependant on any one of them, it never has been.

      How do you now see the future of MCP without yourself and Chakuamba there?

      The party has no future. Like I said, there is more trouble brewing in the party that you will hardly notice until you are in the system.

      Politics, so they say, is unpredictable - do you see any possibilities for you going back to MCP?

      You are quite right, in politics you never know. Who knew that with the way Bingu Wa Mutharika (former President of United Party) decampaigned the UDF prior to the 1999 general elections could become UDF presidential candidate for the 2004 elections?

      What is your reaction to the so called 'Grand Coalition'. Are you going to be part of it?

      I am keeping an open mind about it but it is obvious that there are some problems. The leaders are very hungry for power and have lost sight of the reason for coming together - which is; to offer an alternative government that meets the aspirations of the people.

      The danger is that the coalition will never work if we are so selfish. Aleke banda, Brown Mpinganjira, Gwanda Chakuamba, John Tembo all want to be the coalition president and I am sure if they are not given that position they will pull out of the talks. This is a grave concern and a challenge to Malawi's democracy.

      On my part, I am not interested in being the coalition's presidential candidate but I am willing to work with those who would make it succeed to remove what we all perceive to be 'the enemy'.

      What are your major concerns right now so far as the politics of Malawi's evolution?

      I am very concerned, so far as the opposition Grand Coalition is concerned that we are not giving attention to the set-up that should exist in government to ensure that we are able to respond to the needs of the people. We need to set up mechanisms to govern with diligence.

      Also, there is great concern about the involvement of the churches. One can understand why the church is keen to see the opposition win in the elections but should the ruling party win and there are difficulties then there is very little scope for their unbiased interventions. The church should be trying to work with the UDF/AFORD Alliance as well as the Opposition Alliance rather than just working with the opposition.

      Do you have any closing remarks?

      Yes, NCD is welcoming all new members who want to be part of us. NCD is a democratic party that does not lead by intimidation like the MCP does - but are actively seeking to develop a culture of consultation on every, and any issue that affects the people.

      *****

      Zim human anthrax cases double in a week

      Johannesburg, South Africa

      14 January 2004 13:38


      The Zimbabwean Ministry of Health and Child Welfare confirmed that the number of people in Zimbabwe afflicted with anthrax has doubled from 50 nearly a week ago to 100, medical information service Medinfo reported on Wednesday.

      Three people have already died from the disease.

      Spokesperson Dr Andrew Jamieson said that a cumulative total of 191 cases of human anthrax were reported in the Masvingo province since the outbreak of the disease about a month ago, including the three deaths.

      Jamieson said although no further deaths in humans have been attributed to the disease, the number of cattle dying from anthrax continues to rise.

      Masvingo province's Bikita district has been hardest hit, notably in the areas of Ngorima, Chikuku and Devure.

      More than 60 head of cattle had died by the end of December 2003, prompting a mass vaccination exercise to contain the disease -- an initiative that may not succeed due to reported shortages of anthrax vaccine as a result of foreign currency shortages.

      Health authorities have also intensified awareness campaigns regarding the disease among the small-scale farming communities in the area. A general appeal has been made to all villagers not to consume meat from cattle suspected to have died of anthrax.

      Jamieson said: "Anthrax is an acute infectious disease that typically affects livestock but which may be transmitted to humans through exposure to infected animals or tissue from infected animals.

      "If left untreated, anthrax can be fatal in humans. It is therefore wiser to avoid exposure rather than run the risk of infection and possible death from the disease."

      Travellers visiting affected areas should strenuously avoid contact with livestock and eating locally slaughtered meat, he warned.

      Jamieson said that the situation of food shortage in Zimbabwe has made the consumption of meat from animals dying of anthrax by local inhabitants more likely.

      "Its much harder to educate people when they're starving." -- Sapa
    • 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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