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  • Christine Chumbler
    Action for Behaviour Change The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe) March 8, 2004 Posted to the web March 8, 2004 Ester Jere Lilongwe As one of their objectives to
    Message 1 of 1046 , Mar 10, 2004
      Action for Behaviour Change

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      March 8, 2004
      Posted to the web March 8, 2004

      Ester Jere
      Lilongwe

      As one of their objectives to empower girls, Action for Behaviour Change [ABC] this year has expanded their work to two more schools, Polly Private Secondary School and Chigoneka Primary School bringing the number of schools participating in ABC to seven.

      Speaking on Friday at Polly Private Secondary School the training officer, Chimwemwe Kansengwa for ABC said that they want to help girls realise their rights. She said statistically, there were more girls affected with HIV/AIDS compared to boys. According to research findings the ratio of girls to boys with HIV/AIDS is said to be as large as 5:1 with the number of girls contracting the virus still rising.


      Asked as to why this should be the case, Kansengwa said that this has been influenced by many things, among which include poverty, culture and male dominance in the country. She said: 'Men feel that they can have any women in society and can do whatever they want and usually, young girls from the age of 10 - 25 years are their target group. This is ABC'S group of interest,' said Kansengwa.

      The students from the school said they were happy with the development since they needed to know more on their rights and other things to help protect themselves from HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. 'I need to know what my rights are as a girl and what l can do to practice those rights,' said Monica Mchamboza, one of the students.

      Edward Samuel Kambanje, a teacher at the school said: 'It is good for these young people to know their rights. As a teacher, l have heard that some of my fellow teachers have been going out with students. The problem is a lot of girls do not know that they have the right to say 'NO' to sex and focus on their future'.

      The students anticipate that the ABC will also be sharing Bible studies and following Christian principles during their training. They also expect to use drama and conduct plays on many of the subjects affecting them. The students said that they were happy because their discussions will be in both English and Chichewa so they can participate and express themselves fully on the subject.

      *****

      Malawi Elections is a Six Horse Race

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      March 6, 2004
      Posted to the web March 8, 2004

      Wisdom Chimgwede
      Blantyre, Malawi

      Malawian politics often hit the headlines with lambasts and so often defections eminating from the on and off kind of minds within the circle.

      The MCP, UDF, NDA and most recently PPM parties have all attracted a rather catostrophic attention in one way or the other, mostly because of an exodus of the one-time heavy weights in these groupings.


      This smacks of one thing: "Greed, selfishness and unquenchable thirst for power," according to Nixon Khembo, head of governance and democracy at the Centre for Social Research centre of the University of Malawi.

      Of late, the country has witnessed more brusque decisions amongst many senior politicians that has effectively dressed off the respects people once held for most of them. Not that they are bad decisions, but rather because they have often been effected wrongly and mostly at odd hours.

      "But in politics every time is a new year," argues Nicholas Dausi, a spokesman for the party probably most victimized MCP.

      There is actually one very important and yet seemingly destructive battle that has culminated to all this - the journey to Sanjika, a haughty hilltop state palace a few kilometres west of Blantyre City Centre.

      One more thing though, is crystal clear - Malawi is going through a tough period, a period of imaginations as it prepares itself for the country's third multiparty elections scheduled for May 18, this year.

      Although the May 18 polls come at a time when people are a little knowledgeable of democracy, it is however, an election that has revealed how most people interpret democracy, a western borrowed concept.

      From afar, one sees a country long secluded from the world's political enjoyment due to colonial occupation. A people long tangled in dictatorship evils where no man is allowed an inch to advance a suggestion to the country's leadership. And just from nowhere, the same people are told: "you have freedom of expression, freedom of association and above all, freedom to form or join a political party."

      Democracy; the never imagined animal then, still has too many meanings to different Malawians, 10 years after its inception.

      To many, it is simply freedom to do anything as long as you are able to; a misconception that has left many people imagining themselves above their abilities provided they are able to mix verbs in the queens language.

      It is the kind of freedom that has seen most politicians making more enemies than friends within and outside their own political parties. People are fighting, not for gold as other countries do, but rather scrambling for the first citizenship accolade.

      "To imagine that we have close to 30 registered political parties shows that democracy is now entrenched in Malawi," says Justice James Kalaire SC, chairman of the Malawi Electoral Commission.

      The journey to Sanjika is proving to be a nobody's game as people keep switching from this to that boardroom discussing nothing but who should lead Malawi after the May 18 polls.

      This has been happening even when the actual journey was yet to begin. Nonetheless, the Malawi Electoral Commission turned the ignition on, last Wednesday, February 23 when Kalaire said: "those wishing to contest the May 18 presidential election should bring forth their nomination papers."

      This added yet another drama to the country's politics, all in the name of democracy.

      Initially there was going to be two clear contenders during the forth-coming presidential race - UDF's and Coalition's - but possibly our politicians thought two was not enough to give Malawians a better choice and by the close of the nomination exercise, EC confirmed six had paid K50,000s to contest in the presidential race.

      "I am standing as an independent candidate because first, the basis of democracy is choice," says PPM vice President Justin Malewezi.

      For starters, the salary attached to a Sanjika tenant currently stands at MK25, 000 only. But what is all this fuss about?

      "There are two most clear problems that have divided our politicians - greed and hunger for power," says Khembo.

      But again, a close look at the pasts pegged to most of these politicians, one sees yet another reason - personality clash. It seems the inevitable running battle during the just started campaign period, is more of a personality fight rather than a national service.

      "You people should talk about what you have to offer Malawi don't fight with me. I am not the presidential candidate. My friend, I say, I am not the candidate," says President Muluzi. Why? He has smelt the rat.

      The six who have presented their nominations include Bingu wa Mutharika for UDF, Brown Mpinganjira for NDA, John Tembo for MCP, Gwanda Chakuamba, for Mgwirizano Coalition, Hetherwick Ntaba for NCD and Malewezi the only independent candidate.

      On the surface, these names look familiar but inside them are invisible conflicts and counter conflicts.

      Malewezi and Aleke

      The love between the PPM top two faded some time back when they were all in UDF. Although they hugged each other at Natural resources college in Lilongwe during the party's first convention, they may not have forgotten their rough past.oa tough period, a period of

      During the 1993 UDF convention, Banda was voted first vice president of the party with Malewezi trailing, but when it came to choosing a running-mate in the 1994 elections, President Muluzi thought Malewezi fits well. This angered Aleke Banda, one of the many politicians who have always hoped for the highest position to the effect of threatening to quit the ruling party.

      Banda once angered the late former head of State Kamuzu Banda when he had the afrontery to declare in Lusaka, Zambia, that he was second in command to autocratic Kamuzu, at the time when in the MCP sense, no body seconded the Ngwazi.

      Kalaire, in his speech to all the presidential candidates warned against the use of foul language and violence but what ever the case, the two are already not seeing each other eye to eye.

      Malewezi who will contest on an independent ticket still insists he will remain PPM first vice president and that he will contest the parliamentary seat in Ntchisi on that party's ticket, while the

      Aleke camp wants him and his faction to resign or get fired.

      Both Banda and Malewezi resigned from the UDF for failing to grab the top post and they all joined PPM after being tipped to win the presidency. Interesting. Or perhaps there was a bit of naivity to think that the two could work together after all, Malewezi says, he needs nothing less than the presidency?

      "Mind you, I have already attained the vice presidency and if anything I should be offered something more," he declares.

      The other problem becomes clear when the two PPM warring factions move with their respetive supporters. When Aleke Banda went to Comesa to declare he was a running mate to Chakuamba, it was PPM colours that were dominant. The same was true when Malewezi went to the same venue with his running-mate Jimmy Mpatsa. All the people could see were PPM's red and white colours. Confusing? Malewezi says no but Aleke thinks otherwise.

      Chakuamba, Ntaba and Tembo

      The trio is another unpredicatable combination and it is clear from the outset that amongst them, it may be myopic to think they would resist one or two foul words against one another.

      In the first place, that it was Chakuamba who took over from Kamuzu did not, does not and will never please Tembo. He was Kamuzu's closest and most trusted aide who all along, has been aspiring for the highest post.

      To vindicate this, the two have always been at loggerheads since Kamuzu's demise all because each wanted to lead the party.

      At the height of the Tembo/Chakuamba standoff, it was Ntaba who defended Chakuamba left, right and center, but suddenly, Chakuamba started hating Ntaba. This followed Tembo's plastic smile proclaiming that the two have reconciled.

      And it is Tembo who signed Ntaba's suspension letter for merely escorting the President's mother to South Africa for a medical attention. Ntaba is now a lost son of MCP leading his own political party and ready to contest against his two former bosses.

      Although Tembo and Chakuamba told the nation they would now work together after the later grabbed the presidency at the bloody Motel Paradise convention, Chakuamba still wanted the post he held since 1997.

      And immediately the courts cleared his boss of a case that would thwart his political career, Chakuamba resigned and formed his own Republican Party to enable him contest the Mgwirizano presidency, the post Tembo was also fighting for. A head on coalition. Not so?

      "May be he resigned because I won the case. He hoped that he would automatically take over if I lost," says Tembo who at the moment is tirelessly pushing that Chakuamba should leave MCP property he is still holding. But remember Kalaire insists: "no foul language and no violence."

      Just like the PPM case, the three are also caught in a very tricky situation. Although Ntaba and Chakuamba resigned from the MCP, their respective supporters still regard the Kamuzu Banda cloth as their identity.

      "That cloth doesn't belong to any of us, anyway. It has Banda's portrait and therefore no one can tell us to stop using it," insists Chakuamba.

      The three also crush on flags. MCP's flag is a green cloth with a black cock in the middle, Ntaba's NCD has the same green with an addition of black and white stripes while Chakuamba's RP uses white with a green cob.

      Mutharika and Mpinganjira

      But the most interesting crush is the one between Mutharika's UDF and Mpinganjira's NDA. Mutharika happened to come from Thyolo, just a stone throw distance from Mpinganjira's Mulanje home.

      And after all, the UDF candidate took the post Mpinganjira wanted most. However, the most interesting part of them all, is the direction the UDF and NDA campaign take.

      A close look at most of their rallies reveal that the enemity is rather between the UDF Chairman President Muluzi and Mpinganjira and not between Mutharika and Mpinganjira.

      This perhaps, is the reason why the President insists: "Leave me alone. I am not the presidential candidate."

      No NDA rally passes without Mpinganjira and his cohorts mentioning or castigating Muluzi neither do the UDF rallies.

      But then, this is a plus to the ruling party as it gives enough breathing space for their candidate and effectively leaves adequate chances for him to carry the day at the May 18 polls, according to observers.

      Perhaps thus the reason why it has come clear to Mutharika that for him, "a win is not a question of if but when."

      Or it rather vindicates Muluzi's words that the UDF candidate is a man of high integrity, well educated, exposed and above all, mature.

      Anyway, the race to Sanjika has started with six strong men just preparing their bodies as the umpire shouts: "On your marks, get set and by May 16, the word will be GO, as campaign closes, 48 hours before the polling stations open.

      But the question is: "How many of the six shall cross the closing line? Perhaps the goings on during the two months official campaign period will provide a clue.

      *****

      200 Plus Aspirants to Contest in Parliamentary Elections

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      March 6, 2004
      Posted to the web March 8, 2004

      By News Agencies
      Blantyre

      Over 200 independent parliamentary candidates have submitted their papers to the independent Malawi Electoral Commission to stand in the 18 May general election after being left out by their parties during primaries.

      "In some constituencies there are as many as 10 independents contesting against party-sponsored candidates," Harris Potani, a senior official at the Malawi Electoral Commission told PANA in Blantyre Saturday, the last day of submitting papers for those seeking to be elected into the 193-member house.


      Most of the independents are dissidents who have broken ranks with the ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) in the northern region.

      They accuse the President Bakili Muluzi's party of imposing candidates in that region following an electoral pact it sealed recently with the second main opposition party, Alliance for Democracy (AFORD).

      That electoral pact bars the UDF from fielding candidates in most constituencies in the region, an AFORD stronghold.

      Zengani Banda, an independent candidate in the northern district of Mzimba, said he disagrees with the UDF National Executive Committee's unilateral decision to side-line its own parliamentary aspirants in favour of those from AFORD.

      "I was on the UDF ticket; I have been a shadow UDF MP since 1992 and I have invested a lot in the campaign so I can't just give up at the 11th hour. Why should AFORD demand that no UDF candidate runs in the north when they had an alliance with MCP everyone fielded a candidate? Is it a sin to be UDF and come from the north? Do you want to kill UDF in the north? Where is democracy now?" he said. These sentiments have been expressed by many in the north risking the demise of the UDF party in the region.

      Even the AFORD leader Chakufwa Chihana's nephew, Yeremiah Chihana, has announced he would stand as an independent for Mzimba North. "I am standing as an independent because people have asked me to stand regardless of the UDF/AFORD alliance," he claimed.

      Even some religious leaders have expressed dismay claiming that the region has suffered under development for a long time because it has belonged to opposition indicating that they would now like to be part of the ruling party to benefit development. "Look, for 31 years we were in the dead north and for 10 years we have been tossed left, right and center and now when we want to support UDF we are not allowed. All these other parties in various coalitions are fielding candidates all over why not us? What kind of democracy is this one?" explained one District Secretary who requested to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals from the senior bosses.

      Chihana, who is also Second Vice President and minister of agriculture, irrigation and food security, fashioned out a coalition arrangement with Muluzi that saw UDF and AFORD forming a Government of National Unity. AFORD holds five ministerial posts in Muluzi's 45-member cabinet.

      Meanwhile, the Malawi Electoral Commission has officially gazzetted the names of six presidential candidates in the 18 May elections.

      These include economist Bingu wa Mutharika, the joint UDF/AFORD flag-bearer, former journalist Brown Mpinganjira, who broke away from the ruling party to form the opposition National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and John Tembo of the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP).

      Others include Gwanda Chakuamba who will stand for the opposition coalition of seven parties, former MCP Heatherwick Ntaba of the newly formed National Congress for Development (NCD), and the current Vice President Justin Malewezi who is standing as an independent.

      Mixed reactions have been expressed over Malewezi's decision to run as an independent after quitting the ruling party to join a small party -the Peoples Progressive Movement (PPM). Most critics accuse him of being power hungry.

      Nixon Khembo, a political scientist with the Centre for Social Research of the University of Malawi, said Malewezi had won a lot of praise when he quit government. "But now people have seen that he is just power hungry," he said.

      Malewezi, who has been deputizing Muluzi for the past 10 years, was Muluzi's likely successor until the UDF sidelined him in preference of Bingu wa Mutharika.

      Several senior UDF officials, including former UDF First Vice President Aleke Banda and Malewezi, quit in protest. Malewezi denied he was being power hungry by running as an independent.

      "The Constitution of Malawi allows for independent candidates," he said.

      "The benefits of having an independent president are that the president will not be dictated by partisan interests in formulating government policies. There will be a clear distinction between party politics and government, Malewezi continued."

      *****

      Medical Council Pounces On Bogus Medical Practitioners

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      March 6, 2004
      Posted to the web March 8, 2004

      Paul Kang'ombe
      Blantyre, Malawi

      The Medical Council of Malawi has cracked down on bogus clinic operators that have mushroomed in the country's cities in a bid to protect people from getting medical treatment from unqualified medical practitioners.

      The council's hunt has so far netted two medical practitioners who were operating health clinics illegally.


      In a press statement the Council accused Wells Tiyesi and Billy Kalino of practicing western medicine without formal trainning which is contravening Medical Practitioners and Dentist Act (CAP 36:01).

      According to the statement, Tiyesi was operating a private clinic around Montfort College at Magomero in Chiradzulu while Kalino was operating his at Kalino village in Malindi, Magochi.

      The Medical Council dragged the two to a court of law where they were found guilty of practicing Western medicine without formal training, which posses great health risks to people.

      The statement reads in part: "They were operating illegal clinics and have no formal training. As such they were brought before a court of law."

      "The named people are henceforth not entitled to practice in any other category of medical practitioners," the statement says.

      The Medical council is urging members of the general public to recieve treatment only from clinics that are certified by the council.

      "Certificates are supposed to be displayed and members of the public have the right to demand for the same," according to the statement.

      This is not the first time the council has brought to book illegal medical practioners. Last year the Medical Council of Malawi pounced on a veterinary surgeon in Lilongwe who was operating a private clinic without proper papers.

      *****

      Republic of China Embassy Accused of Ill-Treating Local Staff

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      March 8, 2004
      Posted to the web March 8, 2004

      Pillirani Phiri
      Lilongwe

      Workers from the Republic of China (ROC) Embassy in Lilongwe as well as those stationed at the mission's offices in Blantyre have complained that the expatriate staff treat them very badly, The Chronicle has learnt. Staff, some of them long serving members have complained that they are underpaid, often shouted at like children unnecessarily and that are not financially assisted with their funeral arrangements whenever any of the employees have lost a close relative.

      Several members of staff at the embassy who spoke to The Chronicle on condition of anonymity have indicated that their Chinese bosses ill-treat workers by shouting at them just like children.


      The employees further alleged that most Malawian employees are underpaid claiming that whenever they try to reason with their bosses they are always shouted at and told that they ought to be grateful for being employed by them.

      'We encounter all sorts of working problems here by our bosses, for instance apart from being paid peanuts we are sometimes shouted at like children. And whenever we try to reason with them to consider increasing our salaries we are simple told to stop working if we don't want to continue working," alleged one of the employees.

      The employees further alleged that even if one of their colleagues has lost a relative, their Chinese bosses refuse to assist them with any money to help their bereaved colleague for the funeral arrangements.

      But commenting on the allegations in a face to face interview with The Chronicle the embassy's Deputy Ambassador who is also First Secretary Jimmy Wu said it was not true that local employees at the embassy are ill-treated or feel insecure. "The Embassy of Republic of China tries its best to take care of the welfare of Malawian people working at the embassy. We are in a good working relation with the Government of Malawi and our employees and it is not true that we ill-treat Malawian staff," said Wu.

      The Deputy Ambassador further said that it was not possible for the Chinese embassy to ill-treat Malawian workers when his country and Malawi have been in bilateral relationship for the past 37 years.

      The Republic of China offers financial and technical assistance to Malawi mainly in the Agriculture sector and has contributed to the building of the Mzuzu Hospital. They have also contributed by supplying doctors to the facility.

      The complaints brought by staff at the ROC embassy is exacerbated by the fact that the policy of the ROC in Malawi has always been to fully support the first couple, President Bakili Muluzi and his wife Shanil Muluzi with no expenses spared.

      Taiwan funds the Freedom Foundation Trust whose Patron is the First Lady, Patricia Shanil Muluzi. Members of staff say that their employers should remember that: 'Charity begins at home' and ignoring their needs and giving all the money to the Foundation is not correct.

      However, when asked as to why some of the employees of the embassy have been complaining that they are ill-treated, Wu said the allegation might have arisen from a letter which a former employee at the embassy had written to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs some 20 years ago when he was working at the embassy. "When I was joining the embassy in July 2003 I heard of these allegations which originated from a former employee who is said to have written to the Foreign Affairs Ministry complaining that he was ill-treated at the embassy but there is no evidence to back these allegations. "Even if it was true but that still means that it was long time ago before the current Ambassador and myself started working here," said Wu while assuring that the embassy will always put the welfare of its local employees first.

      Asked if the embassy ever holds discussions with the local employees to look into the matter of their grievances, Wu said it will indeed help for them to hold talks with the employees to iron out the differences rather than make false allegations in the press.

      In response to this, the disgruntled staff said only that the problems of bad treatment continues even if there is this denial.

      'We have tried to tell them that we have grievances but they believe we should not complain. They say we are luck to be working with them and if we want we can as well leave,' said one of the informants adding: 'To them, all that matters is to please the UDF, President Muluzi and the first lady.

      Nothing else matters, not even our welfare.'

      *****

      Moyo threatens SA newspapers with legal action

      Harare

      10 March 2004 14:46


      Zimbabwe has threatened legal action against foreign media organisations and their local correspondents -- including The Mail & Guardian -- saying some of them were "mercenaries" working to topple the regime of President Robert Mugabe.

      "Mercenaries of any kind, whether carrying the sword or the pen, must and will be exposed, and they will suffer the full consequences of the law," Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said in a statement released late on Tuesday.

      "Over the last four years or so ... a number of (local) journalists have found the promise of dirty American money too tempting and irresistible, at the expense of their own country," it said.

      "Concrete evidence in this regard has been coming up in recent months and it is mounting," the statement said.

      It added that "no media organisation, certainly not Zimpapers (a state-owned media group), will be forced to employ [George] Bush's or [Tony] Blair's media mercenaries whose mission is to destroy Zimbabwe from within. That will just not happen."

      Moyo also accused some journalists and their foreign employers of "flagrant violation of exchange control law and regulations", alleging they were keeping foreign currency outside the country for work done in Zimbabwe.

      "Some of the journalists involved are foreign correspondents who regularly report for news organisations such as CNN, the BBC, SABC, Daily Telegraph, The Times of London, Guardian, among many more, while others are stringers for or regular contributors to newspapers such as Sunday Times, The Mail and Guardian, The Star and the Business Day in South Africa. And yet others work for wire services such as Reuters, Agence France [Presse].

      "As nobody is above the law, and given the serious implications of this widespread and continuing illegal practice on the country's economy, the department [of information] has brought the matter to the attention of the relevant authorities and agencies ... for appropriate legal action will be taken," he said. - Sapa-AFP

      *****

      'Mercenary team' may face death


      State TV showed soldiers sorting through equipment on the plane
      Zimbabwe's government has warned that more than 60 suspected foreign mercenaries detained on Sunday could face the death penalty.
      Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge told a press conference the men would have to face the "severest punishment available in our statutes".

      The men - said to be Angolans, South Africans and Namibians - were detained after their plane was impounded.

      It is still unclear what the men were doing and where they were heading.

      Zimbabwe's Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi said on Monday that as well as carrying the alleged mercenaries, the plane also contained "military material".

      Mystery

      The plane's operators, UK-based Logo Logistics Ltd, said the men were bound for the Democratic Republic of Congo to work as security guards on the mines.

      A BBC correspondent says the Zimbabwean authorities have linked the men to a British ex-SAS soldier, the US government and a South African mercenary group.

      Some reports had suggested the plane was bound for Equatorial Guinea, which has seen a security crackdown in recent days following reports of a coup attempt.

      Equatorial Guinea's Information Minister Augustin Nse Nfumu said that 15 mercenaries had been arrested there, including several South Africans.

      The South African foreign ministry issued a statement saying that any South Africans involved in mercenary activities would be breaking the law.
    • Christine Chumbler
      ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17 The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22, 2006

        ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        Chihana operated on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Mughogho is now in charge of the party.

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

        *****

        Pillane proposes presidential age limit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        Mussa hails new driving licence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        UDF demands investigation on Kasambara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land

        The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

        May 18, 2006

        Posted to the web May 19, 2006

        Andrew Lungu

         

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.

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

         

        *****

        Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests

        Harare, Zimbabwe

        22 May 2006 11:51

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

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

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

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

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

        Opposition protests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        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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