- [hasn't been anything to post from the Malawi newspapers lately...]
Bakili Muluzi Mourns With President Mwanawasa
The Times of Zambia (Ndola)
April 12, 2004
Posted to the web April 12, 2004
And calls on governments to empower women
MALAWI President Bakili Muluzi was yesterday among several mourners who joined President Mwanawasa and his family in burying his late mother, Mirriam Mokola.
Speaking at the burial at Teka Farm yesterday, Dr Muluzi said he had decided to come to Zambia and mourn with President Mwanawasa because of his personal relationship with him and the close ties that existed between the two nations.
"Being a friend, there would not have been a better time than this to come and convey my condolences for the nation," he said.
Dr Muluzi said when he received the message about the accident of Ms Mokola, he phoned President Mwanawasa to strengthen him.
He said it was just after three days when he phoned again to inquire about her condition when he was told by Mr Mwanawasa that she had died.
"I felt so sorry that I decided to come since the people of Malawi and Zambia are one people. I stand here today to join my friend and the people of Zambia to mourn the death of our mother," Dr Muluzi said.
Dr Muluzi said mothers played an important role in the up bringing of children.
He added that it was important that governments empowered women so that they could participate actively in the running of the economy.
Dr Muluzi commended the first and second Republican presidents, Kenneth Kaunda and Frederick Chiluba, and other opposition political leaders for coming together to console Mr Mwanawasa.
"We are one people, we might differ in religion, politics but when we mourn let us mourn together," he said.
And Vice-President Nevers Mumba said the nation was not only mourning the death of an important person but the life of a person who gave birth to the Republican President.
Dr Mumba said without the virtues instilled in Mr Mwanawasa by her, the country would not have had a President with great morality and that was why Cabinet had decided to honour her.
He said the decision to honour Ms Mokola was done by Cabinet which was chaired by him and not Mr Mwanawasa.
Dr Mumba said those that were opposed to the idea should not direct their anger to President Mwanawasa but to him.
He also paid tribute to women in Zambia for their role in raising children morally in harsh economic conditions.
He said the death of Ms Mokola should be used as a point of reflection for mothers on how they should raise their children.
"We ask our people and encourage all our leaders in churches, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to champion the calls of love," he said.
Ms Mokola, 77, died at Milpark Clinic in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Friday last week where she was flown for treatment after she sustained severe burns when the minibus she was traveling in caught fire in Ndola on March 28.
Thirty bridges collapse in Zambia
13 April 2004 15:04
A Zambian minister on Tuesday said 30 bridges had collapsed across the country in the past three months because of torrential rains, killing at least 10 people and injuring several others.
About 10 people died and many were injured when a bus plunged into a river after one bridge collapsed last month, Works and Supply Minister Ludwig Sondashi said.
"We are currently working on the programme to [rebuild] these bridges. They collapsed due to heavy rains and not negligence on the part of government," Sondashi said.
He said most of the bridges were old and no longer able to withstand flooding, adding that the government was seeking financial support to rebuild the collapsed bridges. -- Sapa-AFP
Zim's hidden landmines remain lethal
Stanley Karombo | Harare, Zimbabwe
13 April 2004 10:21
Rumbidzai Zulu, a woman in her early twenties, stares at the freshly bandaged stump that used to be her leg. A landmine blew off the limb while she was looking for firewood in the bush -- also claiming the life of her unborn child -- and she is struggling to come to grips with the trauma.
Hundreds of people have been killed, maimed or injured by mines that were planted by government troops and their opponents in the 1970s, during Zimbabwe's liberation struggle. A toll has also been taken on domestic and wild animals.
It is estimated that Zimbabwe is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world, its borders with Mozambique and Zambia being virtually impassable in certain stretches.
Anti-personnel mines used by authorities in what was then Rhodesia included the R2m2, RAP Carrot, M972 and VS50 devices, which were strategically planted to deter rebel fighters from crossing into the country from surrounding states.
Twenty years later, the mines continue to wage war against unwitting civilians.
According to demining analysts, more than $500-million are needed to conduct a comprehensive clearance exercise along the borders. However, Zimbabwe's cash-strapped government lacks the funds to provide even basic health care to its citizens -- and demining appears certain to remain on the back burner for some time to come.
In addition, a new battle -- the political war of words between Zimbabwe and donor countries -- has badly affected clearance operations.
Relations between Harare and several developed countries have been strained since the start of farm occupations in Zimbabwe in 2000. Reports of ongoing human rights abuses at the hands of officials and government-backed militias have deepened tensions, as have claims that parliamentary and general elections were marred by violence and vote-rigging.
The Director General of Operations and Planning in the Ministry of Defence, Trust Mugoba, says Washington has withdrawn funding for demining projects in the northern areas around Victoria Falls and Binga.
"Unfortunately, the military has not been spared by the politics between Zimbabwe and the United States government. The US government stopped funding [for the demining project] project in 2000."
According to Mugoba, the US had contributed $5-million to the project since the 1990s, which resulted in several kilometres of land being cleared of mines. It also trained 120 engineers from the Ministry of Defence and provided funding for equipment and machinery used in the demining process. The European Union has also withdrawn funds for mine clearance.
As a result of the danger posed by landmines, large tracts of arable land remain largely uncultivated -- a profound irony in a country so marked by disputes around land ownership and availability.
A communal farmer from the Dande Valley that lies along Zimbabwe's border with Mozambique, Brain Mutsago, says people there live in fear of the anti-personnel mines.
"It is a dangerous thing to try to cultivate in the area, as one can be blown up in any time," he said.
Jennifer Cohen, director of operations for Mine-Tech -- Zimbabwe's only private company specialising in mine clearance -- says the weapons also continue to pose a danger to people who cross the country's borders illegally. Mine-Tech's expertise has been used in operations in neighbouring Mozambique -- as well as Angola, Kosovo and Sri Lanka.
The landmine problem was exacerbated two years ago after rains induced by Cyclone Eline caused many devices to be unearthed.
The plight of mine victims in Zimbabwe may be highlighted at the Nairobi Summit on a Mine-Free World, which takes place at the end of November and beginning of December this year.
This conference will review the progress made in implementing the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction -- the so-called Mine Ban Treaty.
Zimbabwe is a signatory to this agreement, which entered into force in March 1999. The convention has set 2009 as the date by which countries that had endorsed it in 1999 should have completed mine clearance. More than 140 states have signed up to the Mine Ban Treaty -- although the US, China and Russia have yet to come on board.
According to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), a Washington-based group that has played a leading role in pushing for mines to be outlawed, up to 20 000 mine-related casualties are reported every year -- with most victims being civilians (children account for 23% of the casualties). Many wait years before being given the artificial limbs that will allow them to resume a relatively normal life.
However, the ICBL also notes that that more than 50-million stockpiled mines have destroyed in recent years. The group was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for its efforts to combat the scourge of landmines. -- IPS
Zimbabwe woos new Asian tourists
Zimbabwe is seeking to boost the number of visitors from Asia, to make up for the collapse in European tourism, an official says.
Asia was the biggest tourist growth market last year, state media reports.
Some 40,000 people, mostly from China, India and Japan visited in 2003, an increase of 40%.
Tourism used to be one of Zimbabwe's biggest industries but traditional markets in Europe, especially the UK, have collapsed due to security fears.
Zimbabwe is home to the world famous Victoria Falls and has a number of game parks.
Flights to China?
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority head Tichaona Jokonya said that Asia was "a huge untamed tourist market," reports state news agency Ziana.
"We are planning to develop this market, which in time can be the largest market for tourists for Zimbabwe, and other countries in the region," he said.
Ziana said that 2.2m tourists visited in 2003, a slight increase from the previous year.
However, earnings were down from $76m to $44m.
Zimbabwe and China have recently signed a tourism deal, while Air Zimbabwe is considering starting flights to China, reports the Chinese state Xinhua news agency.
The European Union and the United States have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe's leaders, accusing President Robert Mugabe of rigging elections and using violence against his opponents.
Faced with isolation from the west, Mr Mugabe has also tried to seek the political and economic support of Asian countries.
Last year, land seized from white farmers was reportedly given to a Chinese state company to develop.
ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract
by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17
The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by government to look for another contractor instead of China Hunan Construction to construct of the long awaited Karonga/Chitipa road.
China Hunan from Mainland China won the bid which was approved by the ADB but government later wanted to award the contract to a Portuguese firm, Mota Engil, the second lowest bidder, claiming China Hunan's bid was unrealistically low and that the company had very little experience in Africa.
Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe confirmed on Sunday the ADB rejected the proposal at a meeting held between the bank and Malawi government in Tunisia last week.
The Malawi government wanted the Tunisia meeting to authorise it to get another contractor for the road, said Gondwe.
"They did not allow us to look for another contractor because of their regulations. But we are about to get another alternative for Karonga/Chitipa and I would be surprised if it does not start before end June," said Gondwe.
The minister explained that the bank insisted that regardless of the unrealistic cost estimates, China Hunan should be allowed to go ahead with the construction.
But Gondwe could not give further details about the alternatives, arguing there are still a few loose ends to tighten up before disclosing it.
The problem with China Hunan, according to Gondwe, is that it would require more money to meet the total cost of the project.
This paper reported last week that government met Taiwanese representatives where they offered to fund the road if the ADB continued to reject its favoured contractor, Mota Engil.
Gondwe could neither confirm nor deny the reports on the Taiwanese offer, saying government was looking at a number of ways to handle the issue.
According to Gondwe, the China Hunan's bid was 24 percent lower than the consulting engineers' estimates of K7.9 billion and 34 percent below the second lowest bidder.
President Bingu wa Mutharika laid a foundation stone for the construction of the road this year ahead of a crucial byelection in Chitipa in December last year.
The President's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the Chitipa Wenya constituency by-election that fell vacant following the collapse and subsequent death of Speaker of Parliament Rodwell Munyenyembe who belonged to the UDF.
Last week, police and the District Commissioner (DC) for Chitipa stopped a rally that was aimed at soliciting people's views about development projects in the district.
The meeting, which was reportedly organised by Concerned Citizens of Chitipa, was among other things also supposed to tackle the controversial Karonga/Chitipa road.
The project failed to start off in 2000 when a contract for an initial loan of US$17 million and US$15 million from the Taiwanese government was signed, with some quarters claiming the Bakili Muluzi administration diverted the money to another road.
Chihana operated on
by Edwin Nyirongo, 22 May 2006 - 06:32:31
Alliance for Democracy (Aford) president Chakufwa Chihana, who is in South Africa receiving treatment, had a brain operation on Friday at Garden City Clinic, family and party officials confirmed on Sunday.
Aford national chairman Chipimpha Mughogho said he was told by the family members that Chihana had a successful operation on Friday and was put in an intensive care unit.
Mughogho said Chihana, who initially complained of headache, was found with a brain tumour which South African doctors removed.
Mzimba West MP Loveness Gondwe said Aford boss condition was stable.
"Hon. Chihana had a major operation and after that he was put in the intensive care unit but his condition is stable. I do not know where he was operated on but it had something to do with the skull," she said.
Deputy Information Minister John Bande referred the matter to the Health Minister Hetherwick Ntaba who was reported to be in Geneva, Switzerland.
Aford publicity secretary Norman Nyirenda said when Chihana's situation got worse, the family alerted the Office of the President and Cabinet who took him to Mwaiwathu Private Hospital.
"The doctors at Mwaiwathu advised that he should be sent to South Africa and they even identified the doctor for him," he said.
He said the costs are being met by the Malawi government, contradicting his earlier statement that his boss covered the cost.
Mughogho is now in charge of the party.
Gondwe will be a busy person when Parliament starts meeting on June 6 as she is the only Aford MP remaining.
Pillane proposes presidential age limit
by Emmanuel Muwamba , 22 May 2006 - 06:34:13
A member of the DPP National Governing Council Abdul Pillane on Saturday urged members of political parties and the civil society to put an upper age limit in the Constitution for presidential candidates.
Pillane was addressing members of political parties and civil society in Liwonde during a two-day follow up workshop to the National Conference on the Review of Constitution held in March in Lilongwe.
"My view is that (an upper) age limit should be at 75. We have to give a chance to younger people to lead because in circumstance, when you age you become forgetful especially when sickly," said Pillane. "Overall, chances should be given to young people."
But UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala, whose party members agitated for the age limit during presentations, played the issue down.
"I feel there is no logic to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates. If someone is 90 or 80 I don't know how that can influence the electorate not to vote for someone who is younger, I don't see any logic behind that," said Makwangwala.
MCP participants at the workshop also vehemently objected to the proposal.
MCP vice president Nicholas Dausi in an interview said: "There is no constitution in Africa which stipulates an upper age limit. So it would be strange in Malawi to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates."
MDP President Kamlepo Kalua also opposed the need to have an upper age limit.
"If we have personalities in mind that we want to discriminate against then it is unfortunate. The constitution we want to build is a guiding document for future generations and it should not bar certain individuals on the basis of grudges," he said.
The Malawi Law Constitution Issues Paper of March 2006 says several submissions that were received put an upper presidential age limit in the Constitution.
"It is argued that it is common sense that mental knowledge faculties tend to fail with age. As regards what the actual age limit should be the submissions are far from being agreed. The range is from 60 years to 80 years," read submissions in the Issues Paper.
On whether MPs should double as ministers, Kalua said this should be the case.
Makwangwala also said it is not right for MPs to serve as ministers because the Legislature, another arm of government, is reduced while the Executive branch is beefed up from another arm of government.
"There is no separation of powers when MPs double as ministers," said Makwangwala.
But Pillane said there is no problem for MPs to work as ministers as well, saying MPs are elected by the President.
"One can serve both posts. There have been no problems before for people to double," said Pillane.
The Centre for Multiparty Democracy funded the workshop through the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.
The objective was to come up with a collective position on the Issues Paper which will be presented to the Special Law Commission that will be constituted soon.
Mussa hails new driving licence
by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:58:52
Transport and Public Works Minister Henry Mussa last week said the design of the Malawi-Sadc driving licence would guard against forgery and ensure that only skilled and legitimate drivers of particular vehicles are licensed.
Mussa was speaking at the official launch of the licences in Lilongwe where he announced that traffic police would from July enforce speed limits and sober driving using Breathalysers which his ministry is in the process of procuring.
The minister said financial constraints are the reason for the delay in procuring the equipment but assured that by July they would be available.
"With the new equipment, the days of those who believe in the thrill of drink and driving are numbered," warned Mussa.
Mussa added that with the new licence, government is optimistic that the country's roads would be safe.
Acting Director of Road Traffic James Chirwa said the features that distinguish the new from the old licences are the Malawi national flag and a ghost image of the driver's photograph, among others.
Those with old licences, according to Chirwa, are expected to get the new ones after the expiry of the former.
UDF demands investigation on Kasambara
by Rabecca Theu, 22 May 2006 - 06:30:46
The United Democratic Front (UDF) has asked government to investigate Ralph Kasambara on allegations of abuse of office while he was attorney general.
UDF publicity secretary Sam Mpasu told the press Sunday that the party is neither amused or saddened by the removal of the former AG but asked government to institute investigations on Kasambara.
"Beyond the removal of the Attorney General, we now urge President Mutharika to institute investigation against Mr Kasambara into allegations that have made rounds in the public domain during the recent past. These include: Mrs Helen Singh and SS Rent-a-Car; SGS and ITS saga; ...........the use of Malawi Police Service in the arrest of three Chronicle journalists and the handling of Mrs Rubina Kawonga," said Mpasu.
Mpasu also accused Kasambara of awarding government contracts to Lawson and Company where he was a senior partner.
"We urge government to thoroughly investigate the former AG. We also ask government to cautiously select the new AG ," said Mpasu, who was accompanied by the party's Secretary General Kennedy Makwangwala, leader of the party in Parliament George Mtafu, chief whip Leonard Mangulama and a member of the executive Hophmally Makande.
But Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati said UDF should give offer its advice to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB).
"They should advise bodies like the Anti-Corruption Bureau to conduct the investigations and why are they saying this now? Is it because Kasambara has been fired? This is not a personal issue. If they have other pressing issues they should just say so. These arguments should have come up earlier on when the said cases were happening," she said.
Kasambara asked UDF to proceed with the mission of urging government to investigate him.
"They can do their job. Everyone has a right to lobby for anything they want in the country. UDF has a right to do that, let them go ahead," he said.
Kasambara was relieved of his duties as AG by the President last week. Government has not given reasons behind the removal.
Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land
The Times of Zambia (Ndola)
May 18, 2006
Posted to the web May 19, 2006
MALAWIANS who have encroached on both the 'no-man's' and part of the Zambian land at the Mwami border in Eastern Province have plucked out some beacons that were used in the demarcation of the border.
The Malawians are now using the beacons as stools in their newly-established villages on Zambian land.
Eastern Province Minister, Boniface Nkhata, said in Chipata yesterday that if the situation was not controlled urgently, Zambia would lose huge tracts of land to Malawians migrating into Zambian in large numbers.
A check at the Zambia-Malawi border showed a number of beacons had been vandalised and new structures constructed on the 'no man's' land and a large portion of Zambian land.
Mr Nkhata said the trend extended to many parts of the province bordering the two countries.
"A large portion of Zambian land has been taken up by the Malawians starting from the Chama boundary up to the Mwami border.
"The weighbridge at the Mwami border was initially in Zambia from the time both countries gained independence from Britain, but now the bridge is on Malawian soil," Mr Nkhata said.
The minister, who is former Chama District Commissioner, said there was similar encroachment in Lundazi and Chama districts where Zambia shares a boundary with Malawi.
He said a Malawian farmer identified as Mr Mfune had cultivated 71.5 hectares on Zambian land and employed about 265 Malawian workers.
"Khombe Farm in Chama district in Kanyerere's area, along the Muyombe road which leads to Northern Province where this Malawian farmer has cultivated a vast land is on the Zambian territory," he said.
Workers on the farm admitted that they were farming on Zambian soil but could not go back to Malawi because the land in that country was inadequate for cultivation.
Mr Nkhata appealed to the ministry of Lands to urgently release money for the demarcation of the Zambia-Malawi border to avoid further land disputes between the two countries.
Meanwhile, the Immigration Department in Livingstone has arrested a couple and another man, all Zimbabweans, for working in Zambia without permits.
They were arrested at Gwembe village yesterday where they worked for Into Africa, a tour operating company that provides bush dinners and breakfast.
According to the Immigration Department in Livingstone, the trio entered Zambia through the Victoria Falls border as visitors but decided to work for the company illegally.
Last week, immigration officers arrested 10 Zimbabwean traders and six Ethiopians for entering and staying in Zambia illegally.
The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.
The Ethiopians were arrested at Konje Guest House when they ran out of money to proceed to Botswana.
Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests
22 May 2006 11:51
Zimbabwe's biggest labour federation on Saturday threatened to call massive demonstrations against the government over poor salaries and worsening living conditions for workers in the country.
The threats are ratcheting up pressure against President Robert Mugabe's government after similar threats by the biggest opposition party in the country, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), about two months ago.
Speaking at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) conference on Saturday, the labour body's president, Lovemore Matombo, said the powerful union wants the government to award workers salaries that match the country's ever-rising inflation.
"I can assure you we will stage massive demonstrations to force them [employers] to award workers minimum salaries that tally with the poverty datum line," said Matombo.
Matombo did not say when exactly the ZCTU would order workers to strike.
Meanwhile, the MDC on Sunday said it will push ahead with plans for anti-government protests, saying victory in a key by-election at the weekend was a "sign the electorate supported its policies", including democratic mass resistance.
A spokesperson of the main faction of the splintered MDC, Nelson Chamisa, said victory over Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF and a rival MDC faction in a Saturday by-election in Harare's Budiriro constituency is a sign Zimbabweans still have confidence in party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his policies.
Tsvangirai, the founding leader of the MDC, heads the main rump of the opposition party whose candidate, Emmanuel Chisvuure, polled 7 949 votes to win the Budiriro House of Assembly seat.
Gabriel Chaibva of the other faction of the MDC, led by prominent academic Arthur Mutambara, garnered 504 votes while Zanu-PF's Jeremiah Bvirindi polled 3 961 votes.
"This election showed that the electorate still has confidence in the MDC [Tsvangirai-led] leadership and its policies," Chamisa told independent news service ZimOnline.
He added: "We will now move to consolidate our position * we still believe in mass protests. Until we have attained our goals we see no reason why we should abandon [plans for protests]."
Tsvangirai has threatened to call mass protests this winter against Mugabe and his government. He says the mass protests, whose date he is still to name, are meant to force Mugabe to relinquish power to a government of national unity to be tasked to write a new and democratic Constitution that would ensure free and fair elections held under international supervision.
Mugabe and his government, who had hoped for victory in Budiriro to show they were recapturing urban support from a splintered MDC, have not taken idly the opposition's threats to call mass protests, with the veteran president warning Tsvangirai he would be "dicing with death" if he ever attempted to instigate a Ukraine-style popular revolt in Zimbabwe.
In a fresh crackdown against dissension, the police last week arrested several church and civic leaders for organising public prayers and marches to mark last year's controversial home-demolition exercise by the government.
The police also banned the marches and prayers, fearing they could easily turn into mass protests against Mugabe and his government.
However, the marches went ahead in the second-largest city of Bulawayo after organisers had obtained a court order barring the police from stopping the march.
Political analysts say although Zimbabweans have largely been cowed by Mugabe's tactics of routinely deploying riot police and the military to crush street protests, worsening hunger and poverty are fanning public anger that Tsvangirai -- with proper planning and organisation -- could easily manipulate.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe six-year old economic crisis that has seen inflation breaching the 1 000% barrier. Last year, the World Bank said Zimbabwe's economic crisis was unprecedented for a country not at war.
The MDC and major Western governments blame Mugabe for wrecking the country's economy, which was one of the strongest in Africa at independence from Britain 26 years ago.
Mugabe denies the charge blaming the crisis on sabotage by Britain and her allies after he seized white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks six years ago.
The Harare authorities recently hiked salaries for civil servants, with the lowest-paid soldier now earning about Z$27-million while the lowest-paid school teacher now takes home about Z$33-million.
But the salaries are still way below the poverty datum line, which the government's Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says now stands at a staggering Z$42-million a month for an average family of six.
The Zimbabwe government often accuses the ZCTU, a strong ally of the MDC, of pushing a political agenda to remove Mugabe from power.
Meanwhile, Matombo and Lucia Matibenga retained their posts as president and first vice-president respectively during the ZCTU congress that ended on Saturday. -- ZimOnline