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  • Christine Chumbler
    UDF, Malewezi Chase After Independents The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe) June 28, 2004 Posted to the web June 28, 2004 Levison Mwase Lilongwe With the next
    Message 1 of 1046 , Jun 29, 2004
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      UDF, Malewezi Chase After Independents

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      June 28, 2004
      Posted to the web June 28, 2004

      Levison Mwase

      With the next sitting of Parliament imminent and a need for a
      consolidation of support, both the former Vice President Justin Malewezi
      who stood as an independent presidential candidate in the May 20 general
      elections and the former president Bakili Muluzi have found themselves
      pitted against each other in an attempt to garner support from the
      'Independents' in the National Assembly.

      The Chronicle has been informed that Malewezi, a fortnight ago invited
      all the independent MPs to his Kuka Lodge in Area 43 in Lilongwe to
      discuss the possibility of forming an association to create a 'power
      bloc' in parliament.

      UDF National Chairman Bakili Muluzi, irked by attempts by his former VP
      to group the independents, recently also met over 20 independents at his
      BCA Hill house where he promised them money and other plump
      opportunities for them and their relatives in parastatals organisations
      and government departments if they announce that they will support the
      UDF party in Parliament, according to sources.

      The sources said 15 of the 20 independents who attended the BCA HIll
      meeting refused to sign the forms declaring their support to the ruling
      party in Parliament until all the promises that Muluzi had made are met
      in full.

      'Those who attended the meeting said the party should first compensate
      them for the money that they spent during the campaign in full before
      they can announce that they would support the UDF in Parliament. So far,
      only 10 MPs have agreed in principal to support the party. The others
      simply want to get the money that Muluzi is promising before they commit
      themselves,' said the sources.

      Sources close to Malewezi said the meeting at Kuka Lodge in Lilongwe
      last week was a follow up on an earlier call by Malewezi during the
      orientation session of Parliament requesting all independent MPs to
      remain separate from the main political parties and rather form an
      Association of Independent MPs (AIM) with the sole purpose of being a
      countervailing influence in the legislature to check the abuse of
      attempts by parties at amending laws for partisan reasons.

      The sources said only five independent MPs turned up for the Malewezi

      In a letter dated 30th May, Malewezi said the association would help
      independent MPs to benefit fully from Parliament by lobbying as a
      cohesive group.

      The letter, which was distributed to all the 38 independents during the
      three day session of Parliament, says such an association would help the
      independent MPs to access quarterly funding from government that goes
      only to political parties represented in the House.

      'There is the issue of funding from government. The government gives
      money to parties represented in Parliament. Some of this money should go
      to independent MPs. However, this money can only go to the independents
      if they are organised into a group,' says Malewezi in the letter.

      One independent MP said most independents don't want to align with
      Malewezi because of his dismissal performance in the presidential
      elections despite his suggestions having a sound basis worth pursuing.

      Meanwhile the UDF, which only managed to secure 49 seats, down from 94
      in 1999 continues to court independent MPs to attain a majority in the
      National Assembly which would help it pass any bills that government
      might introduce in the House.

      However the ruling party, which so far has the support of 19 MPs from
      new partners Republican Party (RP) and MGODE, 6 from AFORD and 8 from
      NDA, bringing their tally to 82 is still short of 15 seats to garner a
      simple majority to pass laws and is finding it tough to win the support
      of the independents who generally challenged them when the ruling UDF
      imposed candidates on the populace in the party's primaries.

      Additionally, during the campaign the then president Muluzi continually
      castigated and berated the independents saying they were merely rebels
      who did not warrant support from Malawians and from his party.


      MIJ 90.3 FM Radio Reopened

      Media Institute of Southern Africa (Windhoek)

      June 28, 2004
      Posted to the web June 28, 2004

      On May 31, 2004 the High Court in Blantyre ordered the police to reopen
      the Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ) 90.3 FM Radio Station which was
      shut down on May 23, 2004.

      The station was closed following an interview it had with the
      spokesperson of the opposition Mgwirizano Coalition, Kholiwe Mkandawire,
      in which she threatened to sabotage the inauguration of Malawi's new
      president Bingu Mutharika.

      Justice George Chimasula-Phiri said the police action was justified, at
      the time of closure, because national security was at stake but quashed
      police plea to prolong the closure saying it lacked basis.

      "Police must have completed their investigations by now. The period
      they have taken is unduly long," Chimasula-Phiri said.

      The Judge also observed that closure of the station which is in the
      same building with a journalism school had negative impact on studies as
      students were sitting for examinations and others were scheduled to hold
      their graduation ceremony.

      "We should be proud as a nation to have educated people. The
      authorities should have shown mercy on the students," he said.

      The Judge also ruled that the radio could be compensated for loss of
      revenue in adverts but not for the education of the students.

      This interim court order pends a judicial review in which MIJ is
      contending that the police usurped the role of the Malawi Communications
      Regulatory Authority (MACRA) by closing down the station.


      On May 25 2004, Police stormed Malawi Institute of Journalism (MIJ)
      Radio Station and arrested its station manager and three broadcasters.
      Two of the broadcasters were released that same morning. MISA confirmed
      that the four were taken to the southern regional police headquarters
      from where they were later moved to Blantyre police station.

      MIJ manager Evance Masamba and broadcasters Tony Khoza, Arthur Chokhoto
      and Wonder Msiska, were arrested following an interview with
      spokesperson of opposition Mgwirizano alliance Kholiwe Mkandawire who
      vowed to make Malawi ungovernable following the May 20 general election
      results which the alliance disputed.

      MIJ 90.3 FM Radio has been at loggerheads with the government as it
      airs critical material which is usually covered up by public
      broadcasters. Government has attempted on numerous occasions to censor
      the station through MACRA.


      WEEDO Commends Govt Policies On Girls

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      June 28, 2004
      Posted to the web June 28, 2004

      Pilirani Phiri

      Women Empowerment for Economic Development Organisation (WEEDO) has
      commended government for its continued support rendered to the youth,
      especially girls as evidenced by government's deliberate policies to
      promote the girls' participation in all sectors of life.

      WEEDO executive director Tawina Jane Kopa made the remarks recently in
      Mponela during a youth orientation workshop which attracted about 20
      representatives from various youth organisations in the country aimed at
      drilling young people in the areas of irrigation and entrepreneurship.

      Kopa said government's policy to bring back pregnancy school drop-out
      girls is already making a difference in society as evidenced by the
      increased number of girls going through primary, secondary and tertiary

      She however commented that government should consider supporting youth
      organisations so that youth employment opportunities are created to
      absorb those that can not find their way into the formal labour market.
      This, she said would help to beat the country's high unemployment rate
      and secure jobs for the young girls.

      Speaking at the same workshop, PS in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and
      Culture Charles Gunsaru said government is really committed to the
      development of young people quoting President Bingu wa Mutharika's
      inaugural speech in which he said his government would ensure that the
      youth are involved and encouraged to participate fully in the economic,
      political, social and cultural development of our nation. "Government is
      committed to providing necessary conditions so that an enabling
      environment is always available for non-governmental organisations and
      other stakeholders in order to contribute to development of the youths
      and the country as a whole," said Gunsaru.

      WEEDO - which is based in Lumbazi - is a female led non-profit making,
      non political, community based organisation that seeks to empower rural
      communities in areas of HIV/AIDS, entrepreneurship, and gender


      Chronicle Reporters Harassed Over K187m Education Scam Story

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      June 28, 2004
      Posted to the web June 28, 2004

      Pilirani Phiri

      Officials of the ruling UDF party and some sympathisers of Vice
      President Cassim Chilumpha have constantly harassed The Chronicle
      reporters, demanding that they either reveal the source of a news story
      in the last edition about the K187m Education scam or risk experiencing
      the wrath of the ruling party and its agents.

      Last week The Chronicle carried a lead story based on a leaked document
      alleging that Vice President Cassim Chilumpha, when he was Minister of
      Finance allegedly instructed officials in his ministry and that of
      Education to prepare Completion Certificates, Payment Vouchers and
      actual payments to Geoffrey wa Jeffrey, a contractor, for work that was
      still in progress as well as for contracts whose work had not yet
      started at the time of payment. Greselda Geoffrey wa Jeffrey and some
      public officers are facing fraud charges amounting to K56m Soon after
      the newspaper hit the street, Chairman of the defunct UDF Crusade, a
      grouping that lobbied unsuccessfully for the amendment of section 83 (3)
      of the Republic Constitution to allow former President Bakili Muluzi a
      third and other terms of office, Gerald Johnston flanked by Charles
      Daudi a failed parliamentary candidate for the UDF in the last elections
      told one of The Chronicle reporters to inform Levison Mwase, Wezie
      Nyirongo, and this reporter to disclose the person who leaked the
      document to The Chronicle or the consequences as well as face a law
      suit. "They demanded that I reveal the person who leaked the document to
      us or to just tell them if the person is from within the party or the
      ministry", said the reporter.

      The reporter said Johnston and 'Charley D' as Daudi is commonly known
      suspected that UDF officials, including Uladi Mussa to have been the
      ones who leaked the document to The Chronicle. The two suspected that
      Mussa could have easily leaked the document because he is not in good
      terms with Chilumpha for some undisclosed reasons.

      Johnston said it was unfortunate for this journalist to have
      co-authored the Chilumpha story because, they said, if the worse comes
      to the worst, he would be the first to face the music. "Pilirani is
      making a big mistake in these stories. He moves a lot around in town and
      is easy to be found. Most of the UDF supporters will have no
      difficulties in tracking him down. So it is safer if you people tell us
      who leaked the document to you," Johnston demanded menacingly.

      Earlier Johnston also called another Chronicle reporter demanding
      information on the news story but the reporter told Johnstone that he
      did not know anything, and anyway he offered the suggestion that
      journalists have to protect their news sources and would not reveal

      Another Chilumpha loyalist, Horace Nyaka called Wezie Nyirongo, telling
      her that the story 'came too fast' but failed to explain further what
      that meant or justify his interest in the story.

      The Chronicle Editor-in-Chief Robert Jamieson also received numerous
      threatening calls from sympathisers of the ruling party as well as from
      VP Chilumpha himself.

      On Tuesday, Daudi called The Chronicle saying 'they' were sending a car
      to pick reporters to go to the court where they would connect up with a
      waiting car with other journalists for Nkhotakota where the case
      involving Geoffrey wa Jeffrey was expected to resume.

      The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the defence counsel were to visit
      sites in Ntchisi and Nkhotakota where the construction of school blocks
      allegedly failed to take place.

      But when The Chronicle reporters reached the court premises it was
      found that there were no reporters or the waiting car in question.

      Minutes later Johnstone phoned one of the reporters to wait for a call
      from 'someone'. Unexpectedly, the accused contractor Greselder Geoffrey
      wa Jeffrey called. She was inside the court fence and told The Chronicle
      journalists to wait for other reporters from other media organisations.

      Two reporters found themselves transported, fed and accommodated by the
      defendant, a situation that runs counter with the ethics of professional
      journalism which demand that journalists refuse favours from those they
      intend to report on. Suspension and/or sanction could result for such a
      breach of contract.


      Muluzi Dogs Mutharika As He Too Eventually Moves to Lilongwe

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      June 28, 2004
      Posted to the web June 28, 2004

      Levison Mwase

      Ahead of the next sitting of Parliament, the former Head of State
      Bakili Muluzi, who is chairperson of the United Democratic Front (UDF)
      party has, after 10 years of adamantly refusing to do so while
      President, moved from his BCA Hill mansion in Blantyre to take up semi
      permanent residence in Lilongwe, The Chronicle has learnt.

      Sources in government said Muluzi was to move to Lilongwe on Saturday
      last, ahead of the Parliamentary session which starts today (Monday)
      where MPs are expected to elect a Speaker of the House, among other
      important state business.

      The sources said Muluzi occupies a government rented house in Area 43
      which was previously the official residence of former Vice President
      Justin Malewezi while he was in office.

      The house, which belongs to Reserve Bank of Malawi (RMB) and is leased
      to government, has been undergoing extensive renovations to the tune of
      K150 million in readiness for Muluzi's occupancy.

      An official at Knight Frank which company administers the property on
      behalf of the RBM said so far, there was no indication that a new lease
      agreement had been signed to indicate a new change of ownership of the

      It is alleged that Muluzi has moved to Lilongwe to be physically close
      to his successor, President Bingu wa Mutharika who, as part of his
      pledge to create a leaner, more efficient government machinery decided
      he would operate from Lilongwe rather than from Sanjika Palace in
      Blantyre. Both Muluzi and Dr. Kamuzu Banda preferred to manage their
      national agendas and live in the southern city of Blantyre when they
      were Heads of State.

      'As the President has ordered, all government business will be taking
      place in Lilongwe. Muluzi wants to take party business to Lilongwe as
      well and be in close touch with Mutharika. This only shows that
      Mutharika will continue to take directives by Muluzi," said one source

      There was no immediate comment from government. Information Minister
      Ken Lipenga could not be reached as his phone was constantly on his
      answering machine while Acting Secretary to President and cabinet Bright
      Msaka was reported to be locked up in meetings all day Friday.

      The actions of the UDF chairperson has raised fears that he would
      continue to rule, through the back door causing civil society
      organisations to threaten that they would push for legislation to bar
      former presidents from engaging in politics after they retire from
      office and their mandate has expired.

      During the swearing in of cabinet ministers in Blantyre recently,
      Mutharika ordered them to pack their bags and operate from Lilongwe
      arguing that it made no economic sense for the President and his
      ministers to operate from Blantyre while government headquarters,
      parliament and Malawi's development partners were all housed in the
      capital, Lilongwe.

      Meanwhile, most of the ministers who have their homes in Blantyre are
      putting up in hotels due to the lack of adequate housing. The
      arrangement to have all the ministers live and operate from Lilongwe is
      currently costing government K8 million per day in hotel bills.

      Information Minister Ken Lipenga, who confirmed the development said
      the ministers are waiting for houses which are undergoing maintenance
      after many of the former cabinet ministers, who lost in the elections
      were not included in Mutharika's starting line-up.

      Lipenga, who is also Tourism Minister described the arrangement to have
      ministers booked into hotels in the capital as a boost to tourism and
      only a temporary measure.

      Muluzi's move to Lilongwe has caught Malawians by surprise with many
      voicing concern, especially in the private sector that Mutharika's
      efforts to turn the economy around, which the former president allowed
      to shrink and decline will not be given an opportunity to succeed.

      A ray of hope, enthusiasm and optimism followed the swearing in of the
      new president which was fueled by his largely positive inaugural speech.
      The move to Lilongwe by Muluzi is interpreted as being unnecessary and a
      distinct damper to economic recovery.


      Discordant Couples Still Cause for Concern As Proper Care is Lacking

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      June 28, 2004
      Posted to the web June 28, 2004

      Wezzie Chawa Banda

      According to Director of Malawi Counselling and Resource Organisation
      (MACRO) the cases of discordant couples is growing in Malawi. Many
      couples who are going for HIV testing are having results that indicate
      that one partner is negative and the other positive. However, despite
      the counselling given to such couples, about leading a normal family
      life and having an intimate relationship without the other contracting
      the virus, many 'discordant couples' find it difficult to continue with
      their relationships.

      An example is that of the Phiri family from Nchesi in Lilongwe who, by
      using the condoms through out their married life could have had a good
      life together. Now, their lives are in a shambles.

      The whole issue started two years ago when the family went together for
      testing and the man, Peter, was found to be negative while Joyce, the
      wife, was found HIV positive.

      'It was in the year 2000 when my husband and I decided to go for HIV
      testing. This was because I was getting sick now and then and also
      because of the death of our son who died after living just for a few
      weeks,' Joyce started explaining.

      She said that she had been sick since the late 90's, and at first she
      had a rash which Mtengowanthenga hospital confirmed were shingles.
      Barely a year after she that had an ulcer in the upper inside part of
      the mouth. It would not heal for more than three months. 'My mouth
      started looking red and people were talking about me all the time,' she

      Peter got furious with the rumours and started accusing her of being
      promiscuous. Later in 2002 his wife went through a difficult pregnancy.
      Most of the days she was down with malaria and had severe nausea. She
      gave birth to a baby boy who lived for eight weeks only and died of
      pneumonia at City Centre Clinic.

      'My husband demanded that we go for testing and that if he was infected
      then I was to blame. We went for the test and I was found to be positive
      and he was negative' said Joyce.

      After this revelation at MACRO, they were advised to come again after
      six weeks for another test. The results were the same. 'None of us could
      believe what was happening, how could only one of us be affected when we
      have been together for over ten years and have five children between
      us,' she queried.

      Since then, the couple goes for testing every six months and the
      results have remained the same. They have gone to different testing
      organisations like MACRO and Lighthouse just to make sure the results
      are true.

      However, life has changed dramatically for the couple. Joyce talked of
      the loving care the husband was giving her before knowing that the
      sickness is a result of being HIV positive. 'He was taking good care of
      me throughout my pregnancy, partly because we agreed it will be our last
      child. But when the baby died and I was found to be HIV positive things
      changed. He started accusing me of killing his baby and said I was
      promiscuous,' she said Joyce is now on the ARV drug bought with her own
      money since her husband refuses to have anything to do with her. If
      anything, he is not part and parcel of the family;y unit any more.

      She still she gets sick a lot. Her eyes have developed some sores which
      grow and hinder her sight and are very painful. This makes her a regular
      patient at the Eye Hospital where they operated on her eyes. She has
      also very emancipated . She said in 1999 she was weighing 65 kgs now she
      weighs only 40 kgs.

      Peter is not comfortable with his wife, despite counselling from
      doctors. He could not bring himself to sleep with his wife even if he
      has to use protectors.

      He later neglected his wife and started drinking, a thing he had never
      done before. When he comes home late in the night he has taken to
      shouting at his wife saying that she is useless and a burden to him. He
      also says he wants a last baby therefore he is going to find somebody to
      give him that.

      Joyce says that the husband keeps on telling her that he doesn't trust
      the doctors theory, that he believes this is just a miracle and when it
      passes he might contract the disease, therefore he does not want to risk
      his life by sleeping with her.

      Asking some officials about the cases of discordant couples, Wellington
      Limbe, the Director of MACRO confirmed that the cases are there and are
      growing in number. 'We really have such cases and from our three
      centres, Central, South and North, we have so far registered about 60
      couples with one partner negative and the other positive. We advise them
      how they can still lead a positive normal family life, especially by
      using condoms,' he said.

      However, Limbe pointed out there are difficulties in distinguishing a
      married couple and just a couple. He said couples are divided in two,
      the fiancees and married people. The cases of discordant couples is high
      with the unmarried people because it is like they have just met and want
      to start life together.

      Another official at NAPHAM said that there is a problem because 'people
      don't believe how they can survive when their partner is affected and
      they start questioning our professionalism, thinking we made some

      The official who opted for anonymity continued to say that this issue
      is very sensitive and needs to be reported with great care because he
      said other people when they are found to be resistant to the virus
      change their attitude towards sex and feel they are absolutely safe and
      can continue having multiple partners without thought of their


      Zambia releases 14 coup plotters


      29 June 2004 14:29

      Zambia has released 14 coup plotters from prison after President Levy
      Mwanawasa commuted their death sentences to prison terms earlier this
      year, a statement said on Tuesday.

      The 14 junior soldiers, who were convicted for their role in a foiled
      1997 military coup against then president Frederick Chiluba, were
      released after serving one-third of their 10-year prison sentences and
      were among a group of 22 saved from the death penalty by Mwanawasa.

      "These 14 have completed their terms after the presidential pardon,
      hence their release," said senior prisons officer Mukosha Silwamba.

      Last week, the mastermind of the failed coup, Captain Jack Chiti, was
      released on humanitarian grounds. Chiti suffers from cancer.

      He and another military officer, Captain Steven Lungu, admitted in
      court that they organised the failed coup and that other army officers
      were merely following orders. - Sapa-AFP


      Ugandans fight Aids depression

      By Orla Ryan
      BBC, South-western Uganda

      Juliet Nakayembe takes great pleasure in the many plants which now
      adorn her house in south-western Uganda.

      When Nanyange's husband died, his relatives forced her out of the house

      Months earlier, her garden had been overgrown. She struggled not only
      to grow food, but also to find a reason to live.

      Then, she did not know what was wrong, she did not know the word for
      depression. She just knew she could not sleep and could not find the
      energy to work.

      Inside her house now, voices are rising. A woman is crying as she talks
      about how she wants to abandon her children and leave Gayaza village.

      The land is too old to till, she says. The women sitting on straw mats
      are vociferous and practical in their advice.

      Describing depression

      Women meet weekly in Juliet's house in Gayaza in Rakai district. In
      psychological jargon, this is an interpersonal psychotherapy group.

      In practice, it resembles community support and friendship, the kind of
      network which has been destroyed by the HIV/Aids pandemic.

      The success of these groups in combating depression and boosting
      productivity means that they will be rolled out to the other Ugandan
      districts of Luwero and Mpigi later this year.

      Relief organisation World Vision had long found a poor take-up of
      development programmes in the Masaka/Rakai area, one of the areas of
      Uganda hardest hit by HIV/Aids.

      Research carried out with John Hopkins University in America found that
      20% of the people World Vision worked with in these areas showed the
      symptoms of depression.

      Until the survey, no word for depression had existed in the local
      language, Luganda.

      The process threw up a word, Okwekyawa. The word is only needed now,
      because the traditional networks of support have been broken by the
      HIV/Aids pandemic.

      Rising productivity

      World Vision group facilitator Christine Nanyondo said: "Before, there
      were relatives, they could give you suggestions. Relatives have died,
      even the neighbour you run into, he is depressed... It has broken all
      the social norms."

      Two years ago, Columbia University experts began training group
      facilitators in Uganda.

      Fred Wasajja used to think that only cowards talked about their
      The first groups met once a week for a few hours in the presence of a

      At the end of 16 weeks, only 6.5% of people in the psychotherapy groups
      still showed symptoms of major depression, compared with 86% previously.

      Productivity in the area has also improved, Grace Onyango, World
      Vision's psychosocial specialist said.

      She sees a clear link between depression and development.

      "Without behaviour change and attitudes, as much as NGOs will give out
      help, they are creating dependency systems. We want them to start
      working for themselves," she said. "It [depression] is a great hindrance
      to development."

      Those who took part in the groups say it gave them hope on what had
      previously looked like a grim future.

      Test fears

      Nanyange Paskazia lost both her husband and her parents to the disease.
      When her husband died, his relatives forced her out of the house.

      She spent her days crying, failing to find the energy to grow food for
      her three daughters to eat.

      She thought she might be ill but was afraid to be tested. "What if they
      tell me I am HIV positive? Won't I kill myself?" she told me through a

      Through the 11 members of her group, she found "hope and courage."

      Now she sleeps regularly and has started working again. She is happy,
      she says, and wants a future where she is healthy and can look after her

      In Ngono village, Namujuzi Gaida Kabogaza struggles to find money to
      keep her nine children in school.

      She lost seven of her brothers and sisters to HIV/Aids. After their
      deaths, she found herself fighting with her husband, who drank and
      complained of her lethargy.

      Before she joined the group, she feared people would gossip if she
      talked about her problems. Slowly, she regained her energy to work.

      Support network

      Cowards talk about their feelings, or so Fred Wasajja thought before he
      joined the group in his village.

      He has lost his eight brothers to HIV/Aids and is looking after eight
      of his nieces and nephews.

      The burden is great, he says, and he and his wife struggle to meet it.
      At times, he has thought of suicide and he also fears he has the

      He has not been tested yet, and is thinking of taking the test in
      Kampala, a three-hour trip away.

      "Would it not be better to know?" I ask.

      "Yes and no," he says.

      When he does find out the truth, he now knows there will be people in
      his village he can turn to for support.
    • 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
      • 0 Attachment

        ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


        Chihana operated on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Mughogho is now in charge of the party.

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


        Pillane proposes presidential age limit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


        Mussa hails new driving licence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


        UDF demands investigation on Kasambara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


        Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land

        The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

        May 18, 2006

        Posted to the web May 19, 2006

        Andrew Lungu


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.

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



        Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests

        Harare, Zimbabwe

        22 May 2006 11:51

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

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

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

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

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

        Opposition protests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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