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  • Christine Chumbler
    Malawi: World Bank Grant for Land Reform UN Integrated Regional Information Networks April 16, 2004 Posted to the web April 16, 2004 Johannesburg Malawi is to
    Message 1 of 1046 , Apr 19, 2004
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      Malawi: World Bank Grant for Land Reform

      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

      April 16, 2004
      Posted to the web April 16, 2004

      Johannesburg

      Malawi is to benefit from a US $50 million World Bank credit to support fiscal reforms, as well as a ground-breaking grant of a further US $27 million for land reform.

      The Bank announced that the $50 million would be accessed as an International Development Association (IDA) loan, with a commitment fee of 0.5 percent, a service charge of 0.75 percent, and a maturity of 40 years, including a 10-year period of grace.


      "The Fiscal Management and Accelerating Growth (FMAG) project aims to deepen the implementation of structural reforms and lay a basis for generating growth in the country. It will support the government's economic growth and poverty reduction agenda, and provide the balance of payment support needed to finance the fiscal framework and reduce the growth of domestic debt," the Bank said in a statement.

      Recent food shortages combined with low economic growth had negatively impacted on the government's poverty reduction agenda. "The FMAG credit will support the government's overall development strategy and help to sustain growth in the country," the Bank noted.

      The proposed credit would also support a set of specific structural reforms in fiscal management, agriculture and HIV/AIDS projects.

      "Reforms in fiscal management will help strengthen the government's capacity to meet macroeconomic stabilisation targets, protect pro-poor expenditures, and improve the delivery of social services through accelerating fiscal decentralisation. The statements of expenses reforms will help reduce the burden on the budget and improve the delivery of key infrastructure services," the Bank explained.

      The project would also contribute to growth by increasing the returns to smallholder farmers, and support land policy reforms that would increase access to land and ensure it was used more equitably.

      A national HIV/AIDS commission would help channel resources and strengthen institutions to mitigate the health and social impact of the pandemic.

      "On the whole, the project is designed to improve the incentives and the institutional structure to lay the basis for growth, as well as provide resources that are crucial for achieving macroeconomic stabilisation in Malawi," Sudhir Chitale, World Bank task team leader for the project, was quoted as saying.

      REDUCING TENSIONS AROUND LAND REFORM

      The rural land development grant would provide access to resources for land acquisition and farm development to poor beneficiary families, and build capacity at the community, district and national levels to implement a community-driven and market-assisted approach to land reform.

      "The project will use the already existing financial management mechanisms of the Malawi Social Action Fund, to enable local government structures to empower rural communities to identify beneficiaries and establish new farms on under-utilised lands," the Bank said.

      "These mechanisms will reduce rural tensions, minimise the incidence of encroachment on either private lands or protected public areas, and encourage productive investments on the newly established farms," the Bank's land reform and policy coordinator for Africa, Rogier van den Brink, was quoted as saying. "This will be the first time in Africa that Bank resources will be used to pay for the purchase of land. The success of this pilot could have important regional implications."

      It is estimated that by the end of the project, some 15,000 poor rural families in four pilot districts in the southern part of Malawi would have increased their income.

      "The project will also provide secure land titles to the beneficiaries, under the property rights regime they desire," the Bank explained. Inadequate access to land has been identified as one of the critical factors contributing to poverty and rural tensions in Malawi.

      "The redistribution of unused lands to the poor, and other activities under the project will make a direct contribution to increasing economic growth and reducing poverty," the Bank concluded.


      *****

      'Ghost'of genocide prevails

      Wilson Johwa

      16 April 2004 08:51


      Brutality that has become endemic in modern-day, heavily policed Zimbabwe. (Photograph: AP)

      At first glance Lupane seems no different from other rural districts in Zimbabwe. Its tranquillity, coupled with a canopy of luxuriant forest, gives no indication of the recurring droughts that plague the area. Situated 170km south-west of Bulawayo, it is a place where appearance masks, rather than reflects, reality. Ironically, it is the district’s lesser revealed life and issues that the media and politicians are now interested in.

      So, too, are observers and human-rights officials, who have zoomed in on the district as the upcoming parliamentary by-election — scheduled for May 15 and 16 — draws near.

      Their sudden examination of the constituency is likely to reveal, among other things, a broken community disheartened by poverty. Some residents seem bemused by the ruling party’s vigorous courtship, aimed at raking in votes.

      Their apathy is unlikely to affect the efforts of Zanu-PF, the ruling party. The government of President Robert Mugabe is determined to win this one seat after it lost all eight in the province to the opposition in the 2000 parliamentary elections.

      Since independence from Britain in 1980 the ruling party has been unable to count on the south-western province of Matabeleland North, of which Lupane is the capital, as part of its traditional rural support base. The key to understanding this phenomenon lies buried in the history of the early 1980s, when the new government launched a brutal counter-insurgency operation. It was aimed, officially, at flushing out renegade elements of a rival opposition party rooted in the province, and two adjoining ones.

      An estimated 20 000 men, women and children were killed, violated and tortured in a bizarre military operation. Several human rights organisations, such as the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Organisation, have described the massacres as “ethnic cleansing”, targeting southern Zimbabwe’s minority Ndebele-speaking community. Such a military operation has had far-reaching effects, extending across generations and communities.

      Catholic priest Gabriel Silonda says some Lupane residents are still battling to find their parents’ remains. Others, born during this period, have not been able to secure birth certificates because of missing fathers, or a belief that they were the offspring of the perpetrators of violence. The cleric says that pent-up anger is preventing villagers from carrying on with their lives. This, in turn, has allowed underdevelopment to take root. “People here need some form of healing because they have been brutalised,” he adds.

      Unable to put the past behind them, many also feel they are yet to enjoy the fruits of independence. Activist David Nyathi says that among the major grievances is the exploitation of the district’s abundant timber resources. “We don’t know where it’s going,” he says. “Since independence, there is nothing of a government project to brag about.”

      But there are some signs of development in the town, which has been demarcated as a “growth point” by authorities. While streets simmer in the midday heat, Chinese engineers stand next to the foundations of a building. It is destined to become a government office complex.

      Several blocks down, a registry office is nearing completion. But these efforts do not impress Nyathi, who says the impetus is the result of the opposition’s strengthening in the region.

      Late last year the government announced that it would build a provincial university, with the first intake expected later this year. The proposed institution has not been met with applause. Residents have dismissed it as a grandiose project, particularly as the district lacks quality schools to provide the university with students.

      The smell of fresh cement and the sense of hope, ignited by the construction, contrast sharply with pervading fear of election-related violence. In February local MP David Mpala succumbed to injuries he sustained months after being abducted and severely assaulted by Zanu-PF members. His seat is now vacant and two candidates will be competing for it in next month’s by-election.

      The election is coming a month after the opposition lost a similar one in its urban stronghold, where extreme violence, intimidation and alleged rigging characterised voting.

      However, Silonda says Lupane is a place where the ruling party does not need to rely on force to win because “they have a saleable candidate” who is widely respected. “He’s sensitive and no pushover, I could vote for him as a person,” Silonda says.

      Political analyst John Makumbe says Lupane is a key seat for the ruling party. If they secure it, they will be one seat short of a two-thirds parliamentary majority, which the party will not hesitate to use to amend the Constitution to suit its needs, even before next March’s legislative elections. Makumbe says “the ghost” of the 1980s military operation will “seriously” affect the outcome of the election. But Zanu-PF is no longer “scared” of it as before. — Inter Press Service

      *****

      Chiluba questioned on corruption

      Police in Zambia have questioned former Zambian president, Frederick Chiluba, over further allegations of corruption. Mr Chiluba's lawyer said he was likely to face new charges that he used state funds to buy two houses which he later sold to pay legal bills.
      The former head of state already faces charges of stealing tens of millions of dollars of public money.

      Mr Chiluba, who stepped down three years ago, denies any wrongdoing during his decade in office.


      The two houses have since been seized by the state.

      Mr Chiluba reportedly spent an hour at the offices of a special police taskforce on corruption which is investigating the former leader and his aides.

      Later on Monday, he is scheduled to appear in court in a continuing trial over the theft of $4m.

      Next Monday, he is again due to appear in court in a separate case over the theft of $41m.
    • Christine Chumbler
      ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17 The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22, 2006
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        ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        Chihana operated on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Mughogho is now in charge of the party.

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

        *****

        Pillane proposes presidential age limit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        Mussa hails new driving licence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        UDF demands investigation on Kasambara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land

        The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

        May 18, 2006

        Posted to the web May 19, 2006

        Andrew Lungu

         

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.

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

         

        *****

        Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests

        Harare, Zimbabwe

        22 May 2006 11:51

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

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

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

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

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

        Opposition protests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Crackdown

        In a fresh crackdown against dissension, the police last week arrested several church and civic leaders for organising public prayers and marches to mark last year's controversial home-demolition exercise by the government.

        The police also banned the marches and prayers, fearing they could easily turn into mass protests against Mugabe and his government.

        However, the marches went ahead in the second-largest city of Bulawayo after organisers had obtained a court order barring the police from stopping the march.

        Political analysts say although Zimbabweans have largely been cowed by Mugabe's tactics of routinely deploying riot police and the military to crush street protests, worsening hunger and poverty are fanning public anger that Tsvangirai -- with proper planning and organisation -- could easily manipulate.

        Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe six-year old economic crisis that has seen inflation breaching the 1 000% barrier. Last year, the World Bank said Zimbabwe's economic crisis was unprecedented for a country not at war.

        The MDC and major Western governments blame Mugabe for wrecking the country's economy, which was one of the strongest in Africa at independence from Britain 26 years ago.

        Mugabe denies the charge blaming the crisis on sabotage by Britain and her allies after he seized white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks six years ago.

        The Harare authorities recently hiked salaries for civil servants, with the lowest-paid soldier now earning about Z$27-million while the lowest-paid school teacher now takes home about Z$33-million.

        But the salaries are still way below the poverty datum line, which the government's Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says now stands at a staggering Z$42-million a month for an average family of six.

        The Zimbabwe government often accuses the ZCTU, a strong ally of the MDC, of pushing a political agenda to remove Mugabe from power.

        Meanwhile, Matombo and Lucia Matibenga retained their posts as president and first vice-president respectively during the ZCTU congress that ended on Saturday. -- ZimOnline

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