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  • Christine Chumbler
    Malawi president threatens to kick out EU team Blantyre, Malawi 26 April 2004 11:57 Malawi s outgoing President Bakili Muluzi has threatened to expel observers
    Message 1 of 1046 , Apr 26, 2004
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      Malawi president threatens to kick out EU team

      Blantyre, Malawi

      26 April 2004 11:57


      Malawi's outgoing President Bakili Muluzi has threatened to expel observers from the European Union if they campaign against his government ahead of the May 18 elections, state radio said on Monday.

      "I want the foreign observers to hear this ... their duty should be to observe and not conduct elections. If they come here to decampaign my government, I will ask them to leave the country," Muluzi was quoted as saying at a weekend rally in the northern town of Mzuzu.

      An angry Muluzi said: "I have names already and if you are doing something else apart from observing elections, I will ask you to leave the country and I am not playing."

      Although he did not mention the observers by name, Muluzi was apparently referring to the EU team, the only international observers currently deployed throughout the 28-district nation.

      "Malawi is a sovereign state and I am the head of state and government. Just because you come from somewhere ... you cannot come here to dictate Bakili Muluzi," said the president, who retires in May after serving two terms.

      The EU, which is partly funding the $14-million elections, was invited by Malawi's electoral commission to observe the Southern African nation's third multiparty elections since 1994.

      Observers from the Commonwealth are due to arrive later.

      A spokesperson for the EU team, Javier Gutierrez, speaking before Muluzi's threat, said its main task was to "make a comprehensive and national analysis of the electoral process and offer an impartial, balanced and informed assessment of the election".

      Gutierrez said the observers will seek to reduce tension and minimise cases of fraud, intimidation and violence.

      The May 18 presidential and parliamentary elections will be the third time that Malawians vote under a multiparty system since the end of the dictatorship of Hastings Kamuzu Banda in 1994.

      Banda became president in 1966 and made himself president for life in 1971, jailing political opponents and living in luxury until he was defeated by Muluzi in elections he was forced to hold in 1994.

      The presidential race will be contested by five candidates, with the frontrunner seen as economist Bingu wa Mutharika from the governing United Democratic Front. -- Sapa-AFP

      *****

      Children, Young People Need Info On HIV/Aids

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      April 23, 2004
      Posted to the web April 23, 2004

      Our Reporter
      Lilongwe

      Children and young people can play a major in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic if given the necessary information on how they are infected so as to protect themselves, says UNDP resident coordinator Zhara Nuru at the UN knowledge fair on HIV/AIDS for children themed: 'Break the silence - discuss HIV/AIDS with your parents and guardian'.

      She said young people need to seek information about the disease and ask questions in order to make them understand and share the information with others on how to be responsible and to support HIV/AIDS patients with kindness.


      'The information you have will help you share it with others, be responsible, treat those who are ill with kindness and support them, have a vision and aspire to succeed, work hard in your life to achieve success and seek guidance from parents and guardians,' she said.

      Nuru added that parents also have a major role in providing an environment for dialogue with children on all matters including HIV/AIDS and provide young people with the necessary information so as to assist them in developing life skills to avoid contracting HIV.

      'It is the responsibility of each one of us to stop HIV and assist those infected. We, the UN have the responsibility to provide relevant information to all age groups and support workplace programmes within the UN,' said Nuru.

      UNICEF project officer for HIV/AIDS programmes Jane Muita said the UN decided to organise the children fare for their staff after realising that they also need to be informed about the disease which is claiming the lives of many people.

      'We realised that they are a vulnerable group which needs to be provided with knowledge on the pandemic. We really wanted to break the silence and drill them on information on sexual issues after noticing that most parents do not have the time to talk to their children about their sexual life,' said Muita adding that the fair drew children from 10 to 21 years of age. 11 year old Towani Zimba said the fair would equip them with the knowledge about how HIV is transmitted and how best young people can help in spreading awareness messages in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

      She said: 'I only know that HIV is a killer and has no cure and it is high time we are told the whole truth about the disease so that we share the message with our friends at school and at our homes.' Imelda Kandiero 11, who said her mother works with UNDP said it is vital that young people are informed about their sexual life instead of getting the information from their fellow youth because they could be mislead.

      'At my age there is need for more knowledge because of misconceptions regarding condom use in protecting oneself. Youth should also be taught how not to succumb to peer pressure which leads them to indulge in unsafe sexual experiences,' said 18 year old James Taombe studying accountancy at the Malawi College at Accountancy.

      Taombe also advised youth to opt for abstinence instead of condom use which he said is not 100 percent safe to protect themselves from the virus. He said youth should refrain from watching movies which would encourage them to risk their lives.

      This is the third time the UN has organised such a fair for the families of the their staff. The fair is also held in other countries.

      According to statistics, 67 percent of new infections are young people aged between 15 and 24 years. In Malawi 900,000 people are living with HIV with 80,000 being below 15 years of age. 80,000 deaths occur annually. There are now more than 40 million people in the world living with the virus with 30 million already having died.

      *****

      Mgwirizano Leads in Poll

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      April 23, 2004
      Posted to the web April 23, 2004

      Levison Mwase
      Lilongwe

      With only a month to the May 18 general elections, the Mgwirizano Coalition, a grouping of seven opposition parties contesting the elections under the Republican Party ticket, whose Presidential candidate is Gwanda Chakuamba has taken the lead in a recent independent poll carried by The Chronicle. 2,844 Malawians responded to the poll at the time of analysis which was carried out by The Chronicle newspaper for the past two months with 1,354 responses coming from the South, 822 from the Central region and 668 from the North.

      Answering a question on 'which political party or grouping would you vote for right now?', 38% of the respondents said they would vote for the Mgwirizano Coalition and it's candidate Gwanda Chakuamba, the UDF/AFORD/NCD alliance came second with 19%, MCP got 16%, NDA was in fourth position with 14%, while 13% of the respondents said they would vote for independent candidate Justin Malewezi.

      When the poll results were presented to a political analyst he said the findings clearly indicated that if the NDA and the Independent candidate, Malewezi had remained in the Mgwirizano Coalition, the opposition's chances of removing the ruling UDF party from power would have been much greater.

      Broken down on a regional level, of the 1,354 respondents from the Southern Region, 32% said they would vote for the UDF/AFORD/NCD Alliance, Mgwirizano got 28%, 22% chose NDA, MCP 5%, while Malewezi got 13%.

      Of the 822 respondents from the Central Region, 12% went to UDF/AFORD/NCD alliance, the Mgwirizano got 26%, NDA 16%, MCP 37.5% while Malewezi got 8.5%.

      In the Northern Region, of the 668 respondents only 9% said they would vote for the UDF/AFORD/NCD Alliance, 32% said they would vote for Mgwirizano, NDA got 18% of the vote, MCP 20.8% and Malewezi 10.2%.

      Early March, a Blantyre based organisation called Statistical Services released poll results which showed that the UDF/AFORD alliance would get the greatest votes votes with MCP coming second and NDA third.

      The poll results, whose poll was conducted in the months of January and February and released before the Mgwirizano Coalition was concluded, received praise from the ruling party while the opposition, especially the NDA described it as fake.

      The Chronicle poll is meant only as an independent indication of the feelings of the masses and gives opportunity to candidates and parties to utilise the findings to gauge their popularity. Apart from postal votes being received, a vox pop was carried out in parallel - choosing a cross section of respondents randomly.

      Although new responses are still trickling in the bulk of responses have bee received.

      The margin of error in the findings could range to as much as 5%. The Chronicle took the liberty of removing all duplicated poll responses deemed to have been an attempt to manipulate the findings from some political players that tried to 'rig' the vote.

      *****

      Omar Confident of Win in Lilongwe City South

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      April 23, 2004
      Posted to the web April 23, 2004

      Levison Mwase
      Lilongwe

      United Democratic Front (UDF) candidate for Lilongwe City South constituency Iqbal Omar has said he is confident that he will retain the constituency in the May 18 general elections, despite facing over seven candidates from other political parties including independents.

      Speaking in an interview Omar described his opponents as political lightweights who can not unseat him saying he has massive support in the constituency because of the development he has brought to the area.


      The businessman cum politician is facing challenges from MCP's Nancy Tembo, NDA's Lawrence Mlambwaza, candidates from PPM, RP and some independents.

      'I have overwhelming support in the constituency. In fact, my constituents proudly call me Mthandizi because of the many good things I have done in the area. This support is the one that makes me confident that I will retain the constituency," said Omar.

      He said during his term he has initiated a number of development projects in the area that have made life in the constituency easier and better for the constituents.

      The UDF candidate said during his term, bridges and good roads have been constructed making movement between townships in the constituency easier and cost effective.

      Omar further said school blocks and boreholes have also been constructed in the constituency. Omar is known as a philanthropist who makes a habit of taking care of orphans. He has paid many of their school fees.

      The UDF candidate said he has personally helped with blankets, chairs, cement and paint at Kawale hospital, assistance which he said eased some of the most crucial problems the hospital has faced.

      He therefore asked people in the constituency to vote him into office again in order to experience greater development.

      He said once elected into office again he will build more school blocks, drill more boreholes, build roads, bridges and other development projects including constructing a secondary school in Area 24.

      On crime, Omar said he will encourage a good relationship between police officers at Kawale Police Station and the community and also sensitise them on the dangers of harbouring criminals and the need to report any suspicious persons to the police.

      On youth delinquency,the UDF candidate said he would work with youth NGOs such as Counselling of Adolescents and Youth Organisation (CAYO), chiefs, school authorities and parents to encourage children to go to school and refrain from immoral behaviour.

      He further said he would initiate small loans targeting the youth and women to help them start small scale businesses.

      'The difference between me and other MPs is that I regard myself as a servant of the people and not a master. In fact, all my monthly Parliamentary allocation goes to the people for development," he claimed.

      Omar said he does not discriminate when assisting people in the area saying he assists people across the board regardless of their party affiliation.

      However MCP's Nancy Tembo said she is optimistic that people in the constituency will vote for her saying as a lady, she understands the needs of the people in the area more than any male candidate.

      She said once voted into office she would bring different development projects in the area.

      *****

      GCE 'Week of Action' Focuses On Children Missing From School

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      April 23, 2004
      Posted to the web April 23, 2004

      Wezzie Banda
      Lilongwe

      The Civil Society Coalition for Quality Basic Education (CSCQBE) launched the Action Week in Salima last week. The theme of this year's World Campaign on Basic Education called Global Campaign for Education (GCE) slated for 19th - 25th April, 2004 is: 'Children Missing from School.' This year's campaign seeks to mobilise the communities and people in authority to ensure that children have access to education. 'We are talking of children such as those in the streets, children with disabilities, the girl child, children from poor households and dropouts.' said Henry Kumwenda who is the vice chair of the GCE Task Force at a press briefing last Thursday in Lilongwe.

      Salima was chosen for the launch of the campaign because of it's high rate of illiteracy, like all other lakeshore areas where children are engaged in fishing as well as tobacco farming. After the launch the CSCQBE will engage in a number of activities in 13 other districts such as Mzimba South, Salima, Chitipa, Ntchisi, Kasungu, Dedza, Lilongwe Rural East, Mangochi, Zomba, Blantyre, Chikwawa, Chiradzulu, and Phalombe.

      Around the world children will be speaking out on their right to education.

      They will be voicing their concerns about their colleagues who are missing in school by talking to government officials, parliamentarians, and district assemblies. It is the aim, during the Global Action Week this year to lobby politicians to provide more money and political leadership in order to get all the children into school.

      In Malawi children will speak out through poems, drama, songs, school messages by officials and other testimonies.

      To be assured of continuity of the Action, the coalition has run TV documentaries of politicians on their plans concerning education. These will work as reminders when they are in government after the general elections.

      They will also continue to be represented in the Education Act forum where they advocate for free and compulsory Basic Education, and will monitor Government expenditure in the Priority Poverty Expenditure (PPE) areas which includes qualified teacher recruitment and the levels of teacher's salaries, among others.

      CSCQBE, which gets it's funding mainly from contributions by it's member organisations and other project funding organisations such as OXFAM and CARE International is boosting a successful last year's campaign which advocated for accelerating girl child education which has been seen in the increase in girls enrolment in primary schools.

      CSCQBE is an alliance of organisations that are active in the basic education sector in Malawi which have come together voluntarily to pursue a common cause.

      *****

      Catholics Date Presidential Hopefuls

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      April 23, 2004
      Posted to the web April 23, 2004

      Levison Mwase
      Lilongwe

      .... as the NDA Stance Worries Malawians

      The Blantyre Diocese of the Catholic Church is this month end expected to meet all the five Presidential candidates in the May 18 polls to listen to and discuss their respective manifestos.

      This comes after reports that the country's three major Christian denominations, the Catholics, the CCAP and the Anglicans who, between them constitute nearly 85% of all voters are still unsure as to which candidate they will support between the Mgwirizano candidate and President of the Republican Party (RP) Gwanda Chakuamba or the independent candidate Vice President Justin Malewezi or People's Progressive Movement (PPM).

      Monsignor Boniface Tamani confirmed this week that the diocese intends to meet all the hopefuls including NDA's Brown Mpinganjira, UDF's Bingu Wa Mutharika, MCP's John Tembo as well as Gwanda Chakuamba and Justin Malewezi either on April 26 or 28.

      Tamani, who is also Public Affairs Committee [PAC] chair said the meeting will accord the clergy an opportunity to meet the presidential hopefuls face to face, hear their plans and aims in order to guide their faithful on what leadership to vote for on May 18.

      'Even in marriage one is supposed to know his/her partner before tying the knot. What we are saying is that Malawians should avoid voting into office leaders who are corrupt and who will repeat the atrocities that the country has been subjected to in the past," he said.

      Tamani said many people in the country are dissatisfied with the way the UDF government has performed. "However, the most unfortunate thing is that up to now there is no meaningful alternative to this government. We will encourage Malawians to only vote for leaders with a clean record and who will bring meaningful development to the nation," he said.

      The Blantyre Synod of the CCAP was the first to date the Presidential hopefuls before the Malawi Congress for Trade Union (MCTU) and the donors who met the hopefuls last week.

      Meanwhile, information reaching The Chronicle indicate that the Catholic Church, the CCAP and the Anglican Church are impressed with the leadership credentials of Gwanda Chakuamba and Justin Malewezi.

      Sources within the three churches said Malewezi has impressed the clergy with his manifesto that puts food security at the top of the nation's agenda and also his track record which, after 10 years in office is not blemished by corruption.

      It is Chakuamba's political principles that involve compromise, tolerance, patience, observation of the rule of law and perseverance that have impressed the three churches, the sources said.

      The sources said the three churches will likely guide their faithful to vote for either of the two, saying they appear to be best suited to offer Malawi a credible and caring leadership.

      In a related development Mgwirizano spokesperson Kholiwe Mkandawire has expressed concern over the reluctance by National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to join the opposition grouping.

      Mkandawire said the coalition is having difficulties bringing NDA on board because the party wants nothing less than to lead the coalition.

      'We in the Mgwirizano are also deeply worried that wishes by Malawians to have NDA on board are not materialising. What we want is that NDA should understand that it is too late now to change the Presidency of Mgwirizano," she said.

      Mkandawire said the coalition has little concern about MCP remaining outside the grouping saying Tembo's presence or otherwise would make little difference to the outcome of the elections.

      'What we are concerned about is the stand taken by NDA. We would like to have them in, including Justin Malewezi because this is what Malawians have shown that they desire above all," she said.

      NDA Director of Publicity Salule Masangwi insists that Mgwirizano should not expect the NDA to present itself before the Coalition saying, if the grouping is serious about getting NDA on board it should take the initiative to invite the party to talks that could break the impasse.

      Talks behind closed doors continues between parties in an attempt to find a national solution that would be acceptable to voters countrywide.


      *****

      Zim finance minister arrested in graft crackdown

      Harare, Zimbabwe

      25 April 2004 10:02


      Zimbabwe Minister of Finance, Chris Kuruneri, who is building a R30-million mansion in one of Cape Town's most affluent areas, was arrested on Saturday on allegations of dealing illegally in about $1-million in foreign currency, police confirmed.

      Spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said Kuruneri was arrested at about 8am by a team of detectives on charges under exchange control laws, for failing to repatriate hard currency earnings.

      "He will appear in court soon," Bvudzihjena said, but until then Kuruneri will remain in police custody.

      Kuruneri, who was appointed finance minister in February, is the most senior government official to have been arrested since President Robert Mugabe launched a crackdown on corruption, money laundering, illegal currency dealing and gold smuggling in January.

      Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is also the secretary for administration on the ruling-party politburo, making him the fourth in line in the party ranks, is under investigation for alleged involvement in a gold racket, but has not been arrested.

      Last month the South African Sunday Times reported that Kuruneri was building an eight-bathroom villa, also equipped with an elevator, in a prime site in Llandudno, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

      The newspaper said the minister owned two other properties in Llandudno, and regularly appeared, waving large bundles of United States dollars, in the offices of the construction building his mansion.

      State radio also reported the arrest, and said a team of detectives has been despatched to South Africa to investigate the minister's activities there.

      "In the drive to end corruption, no one will be too big or too small," Mugabe said at independence celebrations last week. "The law is rough with criminals and we shall shed no tears for them."

      Critics have dismissed Mugabe's anti-corruption campaign as a means to get rid of potential challengers to his rule, now running into a quarter of a century.

      They point to the long history of corruption within Zanu-PF, repeatedly deplored by Mugabe, although until now he has taken no action against perpetrators, and has granted amnesty to the handful of senior figures who have been prosecuted.

      Observers point out that despite Kuruneri's senior government position, he is a relative lightweight within the structures of Zanu-PF.

      "He was probably an embarrassment," said a Western diplomat. "He's expendable."

      Immediately after the Sunday Times's revelations, Kuruneri confirmed he was building the Llandudno mansion, but claimed it was worth only R7-million.

      He claimed that the property was being built on hard currency he earned abroad as a consultant for an international mobile phone company trying to establish itself in Malawi and Zambia. The money was earned outside Zimbabwe and he was under no obligation to repatriate it, he said.

      "My hands are clean," the state media quoted him as saying then.

      A wealthy businessman who also owns a hotel and casino with Chinese partners just north of Harare, Kuruneri was accused in the 1990s of swindling a state housing company out of millions of Zimbabwe dollars, but the accusations were withdrawn against him.

      He became a ruling-party MP in the last parliamentary elections in 2000.

      Once one of Africa's most robust and diverse economies, Zimbabwe has been reduced to a disaster zone after the past four years of brutal repression, lawlessness, the illegal seizure of nearly all the country's productive white-owned commercial farm land and reckless economic decisions.

      Commentators said the collapse of the economy, with gross domestic product plummeting 30% in the past five years, has been marked by the rampant growth of corruption that saw the sudden emergence of a new business class of ostentatiously wealthy ruling-party figures who bought fleets of imported luxury cars and built sumptuous homes on corrupt earnings. -- Sapa

      *****

      Tanzania marks 40th birthday

      By Daniel Dickinson
      BBC, Dar es Salaam

      Tanzania is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the union between the island archipelago, Zanzibar and the mainland Tanganyika.

      The celebrations are being held at the Amani National Stadium in Zanzibar.

      Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa and the president of Zanzibar, Abeid Amani Karume, are both expected to give speeches in which they will laud the achievements of the past 40 years and look forward to the next 40.

      The two former sovereign states sealed their union following the departure of the British colonial authorities at the beginning of the 1960s.

      The union has allowed Zanzibar to remain semi-autonomous with its own president while benefiting from the economic and political clout of the mainland.

      Durable

      It has outlasted huge political change not least the move away from a socialist to a capitalist system.

      The durability of the union suggests it is working and there are certainly no realistic moves towards Zanzibar becoming independent.

      But, the main opposition party in Tanzania, the Civic United Front, which has its stronghold on the islands believes that Zanzibaris are getting a bad deal.

      It points to falling living standards and the deterioration of roads, schools and health services.

      It also says islanders have no real political voice and are, as a result treated as second-class citizens.

      But these problems are not unique to the islands.

      Tanzania has been suffering from an economic downturn and is only now beginning to recover.

      How this growing wealth is used on the mainland and the island archipelago will reflect whether or not fears of second-class citizenship have a basis in fact.
    • 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 8:06 AM
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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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