- UDF, Malewezi Chase After Independents
The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
June 28, 2004
Posted to the web June 28, 2004
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
'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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
The process threw up a word, Okwekyawa. The word is only needed now,
because the traditional networks of support have been broken by the
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
Those who took part in the groups say it gave them hope on what had
previously looked like a grim future.
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.
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.
ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract
by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17
The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by government to look for another contractor instead of China Hunan Construction to construct of the long awaited Karonga/Chitipa road.
China Hunan from Mainland China won the bid which was approved by the ADB but government later wanted to award the contract to a Portuguese firm, Mota Engil, the second lowest bidder, claiming China Hunan's bid was unrealistically low and that the company had very little experience in Africa.
Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe confirmed on Sunday the ADB rejected the proposal at a meeting held between the bank and Malawi government in Tunisia last week.
The Malawi government wanted the Tunisia meeting to authorise it to get another contractor for the road, said Gondwe.
"They did not allow us to look for another contractor because of their regulations. But we are about to get another alternative for Karonga/Chitipa and I would be surprised if it does not start before end June," said Gondwe.
The minister explained that the bank insisted that regardless of the unrealistic cost estimates, China Hunan should be allowed to go ahead with the construction.
But Gondwe could not give further details about the alternatives, arguing there are still a few loose ends to tighten up before disclosing it.
The problem with China Hunan, according to Gondwe, is that it would require more money to meet the total cost of the project.
This paper reported last week that government met Taiwanese representatives where they offered to fund the road if the ADB continued to reject its favoured contractor, Mota Engil.
Gondwe could neither confirm nor deny the reports on the Taiwanese offer, saying government was looking at a number of ways to handle the issue.
According to Gondwe, the China Hunan's bid was 24 percent lower than the consulting engineers' estimates of K7.9 billion and 34 percent below the second lowest bidder.
President Bingu wa Mutharika laid a foundation stone for the construction of the road this year ahead of a crucial byelection in Chitipa in December last year.
The President's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the Chitipa Wenya constituency by-election that fell vacant following the collapse and subsequent death of Speaker of Parliament Rodwell Munyenyembe who belonged to the UDF.
Last week, police and the District Commissioner (DC) for Chitipa stopped a rally that was aimed at soliciting people's views about development projects in the district.
The meeting, which was reportedly organised by Concerned Citizens of Chitipa, was among other things also supposed to tackle the controversial Karonga/Chitipa road.
The project failed to start off in 2000 when a contract for an initial loan of US$17 million and US$15 million from the Taiwanese government was signed, with some quarters claiming the Bakili Muluzi administration diverted the money to another road.
Chihana operated on
by Edwin Nyirongo, 22 May 2006 - 06:32:31
Alliance for Democracy (Aford) president Chakufwa Chihana, who is in South Africa receiving treatment, had a brain operation on Friday at Garden City Clinic, family and party officials confirmed on Sunday.
Aford national chairman Chipimpha Mughogho said he was told by the family members that Chihana had a successful operation on Friday and was put in an intensive care unit.
Mughogho said Chihana, who initially complained of headache, was found with a brain tumour which South African doctors removed.
Mzimba West MP Loveness Gondwe said Aford boss condition was stable.
"Hon. Chihana had a major operation and after that he was put in the intensive care unit but his condition is stable. I do not know where he was operated on but it had something to do with the skull," she said.
Deputy Information Minister John Bande referred the matter to the Health Minister Hetherwick Ntaba who was reported to be in Geneva, Switzerland.
Aford publicity secretary Norman Nyirenda said when Chihana's situation got worse, the family alerted the Office of the President and Cabinet who took him to Mwaiwathu Private Hospital.
"The doctors at Mwaiwathu advised that he should be sent to South Africa and they even identified the doctor for him," he said.
He said the costs are being met by the Malawi government, contradicting his earlier statement that his boss covered the cost.
Mughogho is now in charge of the party.
Gondwe will be a busy person when Parliament starts meeting on June 6 as she is the only Aford MP remaining.
Pillane proposes presidential age limit
by Emmanuel Muwamba , 22 May 2006 - 06:34:13
A member of the DPP National Governing Council Abdul Pillane on Saturday urged members of political parties and the civil society to put an upper age limit in the Constitution for presidential candidates.
Pillane was addressing members of political parties and civil society in Liwonde during a two-day follow up workshop to the National Conference on the Review of Constitution held in March in Lilongwe.
"My view is that (an upper) age limit should be at 75. We have to give a chance to younger people to lead because in circumstance, when you age you become forgetful especially when sickly," said Pillane. "Overall, chances should be given to young people."
But UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala, whose party members agitated for the age limit during presentations, played the issue down.
"I feel there is no logic to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates. If someone is 90 or 80 I don't know how that can influence the electorate not to vote for someone who is younger, I don't see any logic behind that," said Makwangwala.
MCP participants at the workshop also vehemently objected to the proposal.
MCP vice president Nicholas Dausi in an interview said: "There is no constitution in Africa which stipulates an upper age limit. So it would be strange in Malawi to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates."
MDP President Kamlepo Kalua also opposed the need to have an upper age limit.
"If we have personalities in mind that we want to discriminate against then it is unfortunate. The constitution we want to build is a guiding document for future generations and it should not bar certain individuals on the basis of grudges," he said.
The Malawi Law Constitution Issues Paper of March 2006 says several submissions that were received put an upper presidential age limit in the Constitution.
"It is argued that it is common sense that mental knowledge faculties tend to fail with age. As regards what the actual age limit should be the submissions are far from being agreed. The range is from 60 years to 80 years," read submissions in the Issues Paper.
On whether MPs should double as ministers, Kalua said this should be the case.
Makwangwala also said it is not right for MPs to serve as ministers because the Legislature, another arm of government, is reduced while the Executive branch is beefed up from another arm of government.
"There is no separation of powers when MPs double as ministers," said Makwangwala.
But Pillane said there is no problem for MPs to work as ministers as well, saying MPs are elected by the President.
"One can serve both posts. There have been no problems before for people to double," said Pillane.
The Centre for Multiparty Democracy funded the workshop through the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.
The objective was to come up with a collective position on the Issues Paper which will be presented to the Special Law Commission that will be constituted soon.
Mussa hails new driving licence
by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:58:52
Transport and Public Works Minister Henry Mussa last week said the design of the Malawi-Sadc driving licence would guard against forgery and ensure that only skilled and legitimate drivers of particular vehicles are licensed.
Mussa was speaking at the official launch of the licences in Lilongwe where he announced that traffic police would from July enforce speed limits and sober driving using Breathalysers which his ministry is in the process of procuring.
The minister said financial constraints are the reason for the delay in procuring the equipment but assured that by July they would be available.
"With the new equipment, the days of those who believe in the thrill of drink and driving are numbered," warned Mussa.
Mussa added that with the new licence, government is optimistic that the country's roads would be safe.
Acting Director of Road Traffic James Chirwa said the features that distinguish the new from the old licences are the Malawi national flag and a ghost image of the driver's photograph, among others.
Those with old licences, according to Chirwa, are expected to get the new ones after the expiry of the former.
UDF demands investigation on Kasambara
by Rabecca Theu, 22 May 2006 - 06:30:46
The United Democratic Front (UDF) has asked government to investigate Ralph Kasambara on allegations of abuse of office while he was attorney general.
UDF publicity secretary Sam Mpasu told the press Sunday that the party is neither amused or saddened by the removal of the former AG but asked government to institute investigations on Kasambara.
"Beyond the removal of the Attorney General, we now urge President Mutharika to institute investigation against Mr Kasambara into allegations that have made rounds in the public domain during the recent past. These include: Mrs Helen Singh and SS Rent-a-Car; SGS and ITS saga; ...........the use of Malawi Police Service in the arrest of three Chronicle journalists and the handling of Mrs Rubina Kawonga," said Mpasu.
Mpasu also accused Kasambara of awarding government contracts to Lawson and Company where he was a senior partner.
"We urge government to thoroughly investigate the former AG. We also ask government to cautiously select the new AG ," said Mpasu, who was accompanied by the party's Secretary General Kennedy Makwangwala, leader of the party in Parliament George Mtafu, chief whip Leonard Mangulama and a member of the executive Hophmally Makande.
But Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati said UDF should give offer its advice to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB).
"They should advise bodies like the Anti-Corruption Bureau to conduct the investigations and why are they saying this now? Is it because Kasambara has been fired? This is not a personal issue. If they have other pressing issues they should just say so. These arguments should have come up earlier on when the said cases were happening," she said.
Kasambara asked UDF to proceed with the mission of urging government to investigate him.
"They can do their job. Everyone has a right to lobby for anything they want in the country. UDF has a right to do that, let them go ahead," he said.
Kasambara was relieved of his duties as AG by the President last week. Government has not given reasons behind the removal.
Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land
The Times of Zambia (Ndola)
May 18, 2006
Posted to the web May 19, 2006
MALAWIANS who have encroached on both the 'no-man's' and part of the Zambian land at the Mwami border in Eastern Province have plucked out some beacons that were used in the demarcation of the border.
The Malawians are now using the beacons as stools in their newly-established villages on Zambian land.
Eastern Province Minister, Boniface Nkhata, said in Chipata yesterday that if the situation was not controlled urgently, Zambia would lose huge tracts of land to Malawians migrating into Zambian in large numbers.
A check at the Zambia-Malawi border showed a number of beacons had been vandalised and new structures constructed on the 'no man's' land and a large portion of Zambian land.
Mr Nkhata said the trend extended to many parts of the province bordering the two countries.
"A large portion of Zambian land has been taken up by the Malawians starting from the Chama boundary up to the Mwami border.
"The weighbridge at the Mwami border was initially in Zambia from the time both countries gained independence from Britain, but now the bridge is on Malawian soil," Mr Nkhata said.
The minister, who is former Chama District Commissioner, said there was similar encroachment in Lundazi and Chama districts where Zambia shares a boundary with Malawi.
He said a Malawian farmer identified as Mr Mfune had cultivated 71.5 hectares on Zambian land and employed about 265 Malawian workers.
"Khombe Farm in Chama district in Kanyerere's area, along the Muyombe road which leads to Northern Province where this Malawian farmer has cultivated a vast land is on the Zambian territory," he said.
Workers on the farm admitted that they were farming on Zambian soil but could not go back to Malawi because the land in that country was inadequate for cultivation.
Mr Nkhata appealed to the ministry of Lands to urgently release money for the demarcation of the Zambia-Malawi border to avoid further land disputes between the two countries.
Meanwhile, the Immigration Department in Livingstone has arrested a couple and another man, all Zimbabweans, for working in Zambia without permits.
They were arrested at Gwembe village yesterday where they worked for Into Africa, a tour operating company that provides bush dinners and breakfast.
According to the Immigration Department in Livingstone, the trio entered Zambia through the Victoria Falls border as visitors but decided to work for the company illegally.
Last week, immigration officers arrested 10 Zimbabwean traders and six Ethiopians for entering and staying in Zambia illegally.
The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.
The Ethiopians were arrested at Konje Guest House when they ran out of money to proceed to Botswana.
Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests
22 May 2006 11:51
Zimbabwe's biggest labour federation on Saturday threatened to call massive demonstrations against the government over poor salaries and worsening living conditions for workers in the country.
The threats are ratcheting up pressure against President Robert Mugabe's government after similar threats by the biggest opposition party in the country, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), about two months ago.
Speaking at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) conference on Saturday, the labour body's president, Lovemore Matombo, said the powerful union wants the government to award workers salaries that match the country's ever-rising inflation.
"I can assure you we will stage massive demonstrations to force them [employers] to award workers minimum salaries that tally with the poverty datum line," said Matombo.
Matombo did not say when exactly the ZCTU would order workers to strike.
Meanwhile, the MDC on Sunday said it will push ahead with plans for anti-government protests, saying victory in a key by-election at the weekend was a "sign the electorate supported its policies", including democratic mass resistance.
A spokesperson of the main faction of the splintered MDC, Nelson Chamisa, said victory over Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF and a rival MDC faction in a Saturday by-election in Harare's Budiriro constituency is a sign Zimbabweans still have confidence in party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his policies.
Tsvangirai, the founding leader of the MDC, heads the main rump of the opposition party whose candidate, Emmanuel Chisvuure, polled 7 949 votes to win the Budiriro House of Assembly seat.
Gabriel Chaibva of the other faction of the MDC, led by prominent academic Arthur Mutambara, garnered 504 votes while Zanu-PF's Jeremiah Bvirindi polled 3 961 votes.
"This election showed that the electorate still has confidence in the MDC [Tsvangirai-led] leadership and its policies," Chamisa told independent news service ZimOnline.
He added: "We will now move to consolidate our position * we still believe in mass protests. Until we have attained our goals we see no reason why we should abandon [plans for protests]."
Tsvangirai has threatened to call mass protests this winter against Mugabe and his government. He says the mass protests, whose date he is still to name, are meant to force Mugabe to relinquish power to a government of national unity to be tasked to write a new and democratic Constitution that would ensure free and fair elections held under international supervision.
Mugabe and his government, who had hoped for victory in Budiriro to show they were recapturing urban support from a splintered MDC, have not taken idly the opposition's threats to call mass protests, with the veteran president warning Tsvangirai he would be "dicing with death" if he ever attempted to instigate a Ukraine-style popular revolt in Zimbabwe.
In a fresh crackdown against dissension, the police last week arrested several church and civic leaders for organising public prayers and marches to mark last year's controversial home-demolition exercise by the government.
The police also banned the marches and prayers, fearing they could easily turn into mass protests against Mugabe and his government.
However, the marches went ahead in the second-largest city of Bulawayo after organisers had obtained a court order barring the police from stopping the march.
Political analysts say although Zimbabweans have largely been cowed by Mugabe's tactics of routinely deploying riot police and the military to crush street protests, worsening hunger and poverty are fanning public anger that Tsvangirai -- with proper planning and organisation -- could easily manipulate.
Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe six-year old economic crisis that has seen inflation breaching the 1 000% barrier. Last year, the World Bank said Zimbabwe's economic crisis was unprecedented for a country not at war.
The MDC and major Western governments blame Mugabe for wrecking the country's economy, which was one of the strongest in Africa at independence from Britain 26 years ago.
Mugabe denies the charge blaming the crisis on sabotage by Britain and her allies after he seized white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks six years ago.
The Harare authorities recently hiked salaries for civil servants, with the lowest-paid soldier now earning about Z$27-million while the lowest-paid school teacher now takes home about Z$33-million.
But the salaries are still way below the poverty datum line, which the government's Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says now stands at a staggering Z$42-million a month for an average family of six.
The Zimbabwe government often accuses the ZCTU, a strong ally of the MDC, of pushing a political agenda to remove Mugabe from power.
Meanwhile, Matombo and Lucia Matibenga retained their posts as president and first vice-president respectively during the ZCTU congress that ended on Saturday. -- ZimOnline