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  • Christine Chumbler
    Stakeholders Sign Peace Commitment The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe) March 1, 2004 Posted to the web March 1, 2004 Wezie Nyirongo Lilongwe Stakeholders at a
    Message 1 of 1046 , Mar 2, 2004
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      Stakeholders Sign Peace Commitment

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      March 1, 2004
      Posted to the web March 1, 2004

      Wezie Nyirongo

      Stakeholders at a meeting held to debate and discuss the issue of peace in the run up to the political campaign slated for April and May this year have confirmed their commitment to a peaceful co-existence of the people in Malawi especially at a time when the nation is going to polls on May 18.

      The stakeholders met recently in Lilongwe to discuss a draft with the theme: "Malawi National Peace Commitment" and committed themselves to collectively undertake to be a major tool for a peaceful nation in the run up to the general elections in May.

      During the conference, Lawrence Mpekasambo from the University of Malawi said political parties should conduct themselves appropriately in a democratic set-up and insisted that the main drive for political parties should be in the interest of the people and for the common good and not primarily to obtain power and position. "The main drive for political parties should be in the interest of the common good, and not primarily for obtaining power which they nevertheless also rightfully strive for. There is also need of participation through representation, education, socialisation and mobilisation," said Mpekasambo in his presentation titled: "How political parties should conduct themselves in a democratic set-up".

      One of the presenters at the conference, a Zimbabwean national, Ezra Mbogori who spoke on the role of the civil society in a democratic set-up pointed out that Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) are political, but that they should avoid being partisan and should play a major role as watchdogs. "Two of the major roles that NGOs play are in advocacy as well as being the one of a watchdog," said Mbogori .

      On the role of the media in a democratic set-up, Tim Neale, the Commonwealth media trainer from London who has worked long and hard to help the Electoral Commission establish a trained public and private media corp insisted on the need for the media to be objective, to avoid self censorship, provide democratic news coverage and to be open to the coverage of all political parties.

      Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Beston Majoni in his speech said the Malawi National Peace Commitment (MNPC) would be a major tool to remind the stakeholders of their obligation to remaining peaceful in the run up to the general elections later this year.

      MNPC is an initiative of the Steering Committee of the Forum for Dialogue and Peace which is composed of representatives from different political parties, civl society, the faith community, public security institutions and the academia.

      It is also a monitoring tool for the preservation of peace in Malawi, a process through which various stakeholders of the Malawi remains a peaceful country.

      The committee has since agreed that MNPC will not be a legally binding text, but will contain values, principles and self-commitments that underscore the already existing legal and social systems of the nation that seek peace over conflict.


      NDA, PPM, Malewezi Talking

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      March 1, 2004
      Posted to the web March 1, 2004

      Wezie Nyirongo

      In a surprise move, and despite submitting nomination papers recently, Brown Mpinganjira of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), Aleke Banda of the People's Progressive Movement (PPM) and the now independent presidential candidate Justin Malewezi are in talks over the formation of a new and stronger, broad based opposition coalition in a bid to dislodge the UDF in the coming polls which are just three months away, The Chronicle has established.

      Information reaching The Chronicle indicates that last Thursday, the NDA president Mpinganjira and Malewezi were meeting in Blantyre to attempt to forge a new position after indications seem to indicate that the grand Mgwirizano Coalition does not pose a real challenge that could sufficiently maneuver to block UDF presidential candidate Bingu wa Mutharika from winning at the polls.

      Sources close to the talks allege that the move for Malewezi to go as an independent presidential candidates was initiated by PPM president Aleke Banda who is also behind the meetings between Mpinganjira and his vice president.

      The Chronicle has been reliably informed that PPM is threatening to pull out from the Mgwirizano coalition to join Malewezi who is now being put forward as a possible grand alliance leader.

      The news on the talks between the three leaders comes a few days after Malewezi made a surprise move from the PPM and decided to submit nomination papers to the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) as an independent presidential candidate with Koreira-Mpatsa as his running mate.

      In a telephone interview NDA leader Brown Mpinganjira brushed aside reports that he has been meeting Malewezi on forming another coalition saying that although the reports are not necessarily entirely true there is still room for change, even if all the papers are submitted to the MEC.

      Mpinganjira further said he would be willing to withdraw his candidature if there can be sufficient reason and fruitful talks with any party which could come forward to form an understanding with the NDA. "For now, its not really true that I have been meeting Malewezi but I understand Malewezi is submitting his papers today. I have been in my office and I didn't have any visitor," said Mpinganjira adding that some people are just malicious and would want to fake stories for their own reasons. "I know after these submissions people will calm down and then we can have serious discussions and negotiations. In a month's time expect something to happen because we will now be in bilateral and multilateral talks with other parties willing to join us," Mpinganjira said, adding, " I have no problem in withdrawing my nomination if something happens because I went there out of my own choice." In a related development, so far as talks with MCP, Mpinganjira told The Chronicle that there has been no final discussions saying: "There is much happening and after these activities such as nomination submissions we should be able to further deepen our talks." He further said reports that MCP and NDA have finally agreed and were to submit their nominations together were just speculation because their talks were inconclusive.

      In an earlier interview NDA director of Publicity, Salule Masangwi also concurred with his party president saying there is still much happening on the ground and NDA would certainly withdraw its nomination if they agree with other stakeholders. "We are failing to agree with MCP and we are still discussing on it until we reach the final stage. You know it is a big process for different parties with different ideologies to finally agree - but certainly we would withdraw our nominations because there is nothing wrong with doing that," said Masangwi concurring with Mpinganjira who also said the nomination were just done as a matter of formality.

      He added: "We need to be careful because we don't want to experience the Kenyan scenario." Asked when NDA and MCP last met on their ongoing talks, Masangwi told The Chronicle that they had been meeting early last week.


      Bingu Declared 'Too Old'

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      March 1, 2004
      Posted to the web March 1, 2004

      Wezie Nyirongo

      UDF presidential candidate Bingu wa Mutharika might not be an eligible candidate to win the presidential seat in the coming elections considering his age compared to other presidential candidates.

      A vox pop carried out by The Chronicle indicates that the UDF goofed in supporting Mutharika for the presidential race because his age is far too much for a presidential candidate if he is to be in power for five years or more.

      According to media reports Mutharika is now in his mid 70s compared to his predecessor president Muluzi who is in his 60s. This, therefore means that if Mutharika wins as the president of the country at the end of his five year term will be almost 80 years or more and if there would be a possibility for another second term, he will be very old for a president.

      'I wonder why the UDF, and especially Muluzi decided to handpick a person who is much older than him for the UDF presidential candidate when young and energetic men are there in the party,' said Jailosi Malikeni, 55, a retired civil servant based in Lilongwe.

      He added that Muluzi could have consulted first before imposing Mutharika on the people as the presidential candidate considering that there were some young men who also had such ambitions.

      Esmie abiti Maulana, 40, a business lady based in Machinjiri, Blantyre told The Chronicle that it is awkward for Muluzi to put forward Mutharika saying history proves that if someone is old, his health deteriorates which affects his performance.

      'An example would be African leaders. We must not forget our own former leader, Kamuzu Banda who, in his last days found that his health was not that good. He was usually weak so we cannot just sit and vote for someone who is so old.

      'It is time for us, Malawians to wake up and ask the young men to lead this country,' said Maulana.

      She further urged other political parties to be conscious of age when choosing leaders of their respective parties.

      A senior UDF official Sam Mpasu when asked by the reporter last December in Blantyre on whether the National Executive Committee (NEC) discussed the age of their presidential candidate, said it was not discussed since Mutharika was just imposed on them and there was no voting.

      Although the Malawi candidate, quoting D. D. Phiri when he wrote; 'if some one is 70 and wins, he is bound to be a *one term' president'.

      'Having served five years he will be 75. If he stands again at 75, he will be 80 by the end of the second term. It is doubtful that he would be in full control of all his faculties, never nind state affairs. Possibly his henchmen will be using him as a rubber stamp.' 'Electing someone who is 70 or over will usher into our politics some kind of instability,' says Phiri, adding, 'person who is 75 and above has lost a good deal of his physical and mental vitality. If he wants to remain in politics he should do so in an advisory capacity only.' However, Muluzi in his rallies refers to Mutharika as a young man while castigating other opposition leaders as too old for politics.

      'Look, in UDF we have young and strong men like these ones. Why cling to your positions when you are old.' Muluzi is usually quoted as saying during rallies while referring to Mutharika as their first choice commodity on the market.

      UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala told The Chronicle that since there is no limit in the constitution on the presidential age limit, the choice of Bingu does not cause any problem in the party. He added that the UDF party only looked on the individual's presidential qualifications - like someone who is mature in politics and capable to leading the nation.

      'Age does not really matter to us because the older a person gets the wiser he/she becomes. Our choice was based on presidential qualifications,' said Makwangwala adding: 'We wouldn't really prefer youths because sometimes their behaviour is childish and that would not assist us as a nation. So our choice of Bingu is correct.' However, The Chronicle learnt from some UDF supporters that in the forthcoming elections they would only vote for UDF parliamentary candidates and as for the presidency, they would vote for another presidential candidate, even from the opposition rather than Bingu.

      Section 80 subsection 6(b) of the constitution only stipulates that a person is qualified for nomination for election as president or vice president if he/she has attained the age of thirty-five.

      It further does not give any upper age limit on presidents or vice presidents.


      Malewezi Under Fire!

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      March 1, 2004
      Posted to the web March 1, 2004

      Wezie Nyirongo and Pilirani Phiri

      PPM to drag him and Koreia- Mpatsa to a disciplinary committee to explain themselves

      'He is digging own political grave' - UDF

      'I am still PPM' - Malewezi insists

      Political parties and analysts as well as civil society organs have blasted first vice President Justin Malewezi after he presented his nomination papers to the Malawi Electoral Commission indicating that he would contest in the May 18 Presidential Elections together with Jimmy Mpatsa-Koreia independently from his adopted party.

      Malewezi has irked many by his unprecedented stance because he is also People's Progressive Movement (PPM) vice President. Many have said he is power hungry and confused and have warned that he is effectively killing his credibility and digging his own political grave.

      Commenting on Malewezi's sudden political move to stand as an independent president despite being PPM's vice President, a cross section of opposition political parties including PPM stressed that Malewezi's move to go independent while serving in the Mgwirizano coalition was regrettable. The clergy too, who facilitated the formation of the opposition coalition are surprised at his move.

      Respondents said Malewezi has made a big political blunder, charging that the vice President is taking Malawians for a ride as he has been of late associated with other political parties while simultaneously serving in PPM as well as the country's first vice President. His position has been seen as causing some consternation for both the ruling UDF and the opposition parties PPM President Aleke Banda told The Chronicle he was surprised with the step Malewezi had taken saying by excluding himself from PPM as a party to go independently he can not continue to be a member of PPM or it's vice president.

      Banda said Malewezi has violated the party's constitution by making himself an independent President warning his vice that the party's National Executive Committee will drag him and his running mate Koreia Mpatsa to the disciplinary committee to explain themselves. "The party and even myself are surprised by the move Malewezi has taken. In fact, he was supposed to serve us with a notice - but we just saw it in the papers. The National Executive will be meeting very shortly and definitely he is going to be dragged to a disciplinary committee," said Banda.

      Chancellor college Lecturer and political analyst Edge Kanyongolo said he was surprised that Malewezi decided to go behind Aleke Banda who is his President, saying this means there is a serious leadership crisis within PPM that has prompted him to go to the presidential polls independently. "I am completely surprised with Malewezi's decision to go independent. I assume within PPM there are serious leadership problems that have led to him and Mpatsa to go off to the polls on separate tickets from the party," said Kanyongolo adding that with Malewezi going independent, the presidential race will be more challenging saying there is need for other candidates to work out their strategies properly.

      Asked as to what he thinks made Malewezi reach the decision of going independent, Kanyongolo said it could be that Malewezi was not happy with his position as the party's veep. He further said Malewezi is uncertain about his future that is why he is politically unsettled and would now like to advance his political career. "How will he be dealing with his party and coalition leader on a separate ticket? And how is he going to oppose his leaders? It is very difficult and it just shows how uncertain Malewezi is about his political future. Malewezi has an uncertain political base and is making a lot of maneuvers in order to advance his political career," Kanyongolo suggested.

      Kanyongolo, however warned that Malewezi would not win the elections unless the public is well informed about his political agenda because, he said, Malewezi is basing his political career on his personal quality and character.

      Also commenting on the issue, Pastor Matoga of Faith of God Church, one of the clergy who facilitated the coalition talks said he too was very disappointed with the way opposition leaders are behaving. "We were just facilitators of the process and we at least performed to the best of our efforts. However we are not happy with what is happening now.

      Our intention was to unite them and we cannot do anything on the recent developments in the Mgwirizano coalition," said Matoga.

      UDF deputy spokesperson Mary Kaphwereza Banda described Malewezi as a man who is confused, power hungry and politically immature saying it is high time he left politics because, she said, Malewezi's advisors are leading him astray. "He is confused and he is politically manhandling (sic) himself. The problem is that he is power hungry that is why he is confusing people with his frequent moves. What Malewezi is doing is a serious political mistake and he is degrading his own long time excellent political reputation. In a nutshell, he is committing political suicide and consequently digging his own political grave," warned Banda.

      Malawi Democratic Party (MDP) President Kamlepo Kalua said the Mgwirizano coalition, whose Malewezi's PPM is party, did not anticipate such a scenario that Malewezi has taken which, said Kalua, is not conducive to democracy. "It is sad to see Malewezi declaring that he wishes to stand as an independent President whilst serving in the coalition as PPM's first vice President. His decision to do so is not conducive to democracy as this brings old memories of the one party regime. I think his move to run as an independent should be handled with political skill," advised Kalua.

      However, speaking in a telephone interview Malewezi defended himself saying by deciding to be an independent presidential candidate he is only exercising both his national and party constitutional right. "I continue to be PPM executive. I have the right to go independent and I may not be the only one who is to be an independent presidential candidate.

      There are some also who wish to run as independents and they have been mentioned in the papers," said Malewezi sounding confident.

      Asked if he is confident that he will be the next president if he stands as an independent, Malewezi said,: "I have been in the government for ten years and people know my contributions towards their welfare. I have really a strong political base on the ground," adding: "I have also been in Kamuzu's government as a senior administrator and really I have the knowledge that affords me an opportunity to have massive support," said Malewezi while defending himself that by running as an independent President he is not decampaigning his party President Aleke Banda.

      Malewezi stressed that if people are saying he is politically confused then this means that all who are standing as independents are also confused because, he said, his move is appropriate and certainly not based at decampaigning others. "We are giving a greater choice to the electorates and I am not campaigning against anyone. After all, my party constitution allows for this," said Malewezi contradicting with his President, who earlier said he was violating the party's Constitution.

      At the time The Chronicle was going to bed, Malewezi was addressing a rally in his home area in Ntchisi where he said he would give answers to all the allegations and speculations going around about his political future and clear the air on his political agenda.

      Malewezi, unexpectedly, resigned from the ruling UDF party after serving as first vice President for nine and a half years. He then immediately joined the opposition PPM raising speculation that he had been a secret member of the party, He stood for elections and was elected the party's vice president. But whilst in PPM, he also contested for a presidential seat for the Malawi Forum for Unity and Development (MAFUNDE) where he lost the presidential position to George Mnensa.

      Later, Thom Chiumia who is New Dawn for Africa (NDA) President, a party that was allegedly formed by the UDF with the sole reason of confusing the opposition and the electorate, claimed that Malewezi also contested - in absentia - the party's presidential position. He obtained only four votes.

      Many political analysts are waiting until the dust settles on this radical move by Malewezi before commenting or venturing a guess as to what will transpire. The only sure opinion is that Malawi's politics will remain dynamic.


      Kaphwereza Banda Annoys Journalists

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      March 1, 2004
      Posted to the web March 1, 2004

      Wezie Nyirongo

      ... when she rudely bars them from covering a meeting and they question her motive in taking boxes of ARVs

      The HIV/AIDS Minister, Mary Kaphwereza Banda who is on record as having a sour relationship with the media was at it again recently in Chiradzulu when she chased a team of eleven reporters from covering an event.

      The Chronicle reporter was among the team which were on a tour with the visiting team from Geneva including the UNAIDS Executive Director, Peter Piot to Chiradzulu District Hospital where the French organisation, Medicines san Frontiers (MsF) are providing free antiretroviral treatment to people who are living with HIV/AIDS.

      During the visit, and after the National AIDS Policy launch in Blantyre, the visiting team were taken to Chiradzulu where they were introduced to the room where clients get their ARV treatment. An official from MsF then explained the process from when the person gets tested for HIV, is found to be HIV positive - to the period he/she starts treatment.

      As the delegation was coming out of the room Kaphwereza returned and met the institutions officials and took several boxes of Triomune and some unidentified drugs which are also given to PLWHA.

      She then gave the boxes to her personal assistant saying; 'musunge bwino zimenezi ndikufuna ndikaonetse H. E. (Muluzi) mawa' meaning the boxes should be kept in a safer place because she wanted to show President Muluzi the next day.

      Unfortunately, some journalists saw what the minister had taken, a fact that did not go well with her. When the delegation was ushered into another room where there was a lady who had tested positive while pregnant and was on Neverapine treatment but gave birth to twins who were all HIV positive, Kaphwereza demanded that journalists should leave the room.

      'Are there news men inside here? Please they should not be inside this room, they should go out immediately,' fumed Kaphwereza in vernacular in the presence of the visiting team from Geneva and a strong delegation from NAC, UNDP, UNAIDS, UNICEF and other government departments.

      But one of the veteran media personalities, Janet Karim of UNDP who was leading the media team told Kaphwereza she was the one leading the media team. However, Kaphwereza refused to acknowledge this and she repeated the directive that all news persons should vacate the room without explaining why they should be denied the right to cover the event fully.

      While outside the room, the team questioned the minister's directive.

      'So why did they invite us to be on the tour when they know we would not be allowed to get full information. And why did she decide to shout at us like that in the presence of honourable guests,' fumed another reporter from one radio stations based in Blantyre.

      'Maybe she is doing this because we, as journalists have seen that she took the ARVs and we know it is a lie that she is going to show the medication to the president. Do you think that to this day the president does not know how the Triomune box looks like? Questioned another reporter from a reputable weekly paper in the country.

      The media team then agreed not to accompany Kaphwereza to Njuli where she was about to give a donation to the needy.

      The journalists then all agreed that they would not cover a private function that Kaphwereza had arranged because the minister had embarrassed them and made them look foolish in the presence of such international personalities.

      It had to take the intervention of the UNICEF communications officer Fayoyin Adebayo to convince the news people to come out of the vehicle they were traveling in to cover another site known as Chikankheni where the delegation also visited. When Kaphwereza regrouped the gathering present at the site to address the people, the media team deliberately ignored her speech.

      Kaphwereza's behaviour and reactions are in sharp contrast with President Muluzi's earlier statement during the launch of the National AIDS Policy when he stressed that it was time that Malawians refrain from a culture of silence and try to be open on issues relating to HIV/AIDS if the country is to experience a lower prevalence rate of the pandemic.

      Muluzi said information on HIV/AIDS should not be private but each and every Malawian, especially should be able to have access to all information relating to the pandemic.


      20,000 Fish Returned to Shire

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      March 1, 2004
      Posted to the web March 1, 2004

      Tom Mtenje

      About 20,000 young Thamba and Mlamba fish were released into the Shire river at Liwonde National Park as part of the breeding program run by the Japan International Cooperation Agency [JICA] Aquaculture project based at the National Aquaculture Cooperation Centre [NAC] in Domasi recently.

      Having recognised the importance of a stable fish harvest, JICA and the Malawi Government launched a five-year aquaculture project at the Centre in April 1999. The Aquaculture Research and Technical Development of Malawi Indigenous species project aims to establish seed production techniques for new aquaculture species such as Ntchila, Thamba and lake Chambo and, to develop appropriate fish farming techniques for existing aquaculture species including Makumba and Mlamba.

      In May 2002 the project released 10,000 fingerlings at the same place and another 10,000 were released at the Bunda College Reservoir in June last year. The aquaculture species are available to fish farmers throughout the country at a nominal fee.

      Masatoshi Futagawa, a fish seed production expert from the JICA aquaculture project explained the idea behind releasing fish into the Shire river: 'We know that fish resources are decreasing - not only in Lake Malawi and the Shire River, but also throughout Malawi and world wide due to over fishing and environmental contamination. Countermeasures to this problem including releasing fingerlings bred under artificial conditions into their natural environment,controlling fishing activity in these areas and preserving nursery areas,' he said, adding, 'These three activities should be done simultaneously. If not, natural stocks may take too long to recover'.

      Futagawa and Dr. Hiroki Eda, JICA Aquaculture Project Team Leader appealed to local communities, particularly fishermen, to protect the fish until they were mature enough to harvest so as to promote sustainable fishing.

      'The young 5 cm Thamba released today will increase in weight to 150g within a year. We hope that the whole community will help to increase the number of fish in the river. Future generations have the right to benefit from the natural resources that we enjoy today,' Eda said.

      Parks and Wildlife Officer, Thamala said the Shire at Liwonde National Park was a prime breeding area for fish. However, the area is being threatened by rampant poaching by villagers sharing the boundary with the National Park for whom fish from the park constitutes a major source of protein.

      'Our neighbours have to learn to respect the existence and importance of the National Park and the significance of the breeding areas to fish stocks in the Shire and Lake Malombe,' said Thamala.

      Relevant Links

      Thamala told the JICA Project Team that the department of Wildlife and National Parks was planning to introduce fish farming projects in villages bordering the National Park, using fingerlings and expertise from NAC in a bid to ease pressure from poaching off the breeding areas.

      Bryson Banda, an Ecologist and Research Officer at the Liwonde National Park said that although it was difficult to assess the impact of releasing these fingerlings into the Shire, he was convinced that the presence of Nyungwi being sold at the Liwonde Barrage was an indication of an increase in fish stocks, since this particular species was scares in this area just a few years ago.
    • 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.


        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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