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  • Christine Chumbler
    Malawi leader targets donor aid In his first state of the nation address, Malawi s new president has said his priority is to resume funding from international
    Message 1 of 1046 , Jun 30, 2004
      Malawi leader targets donor aid

      In his first state of the nation address, Malawi's new president has
      said his priority is to resume funding from international donors.
      President Bingu wa Mutharika said this would help raise Malawi's growth

      Donors suspended aid worth $75m over concerns about over-spending by
      the previous government.

      Mr Mutharika was speaking in parliament, which on Monday elected his
      candidate as speaker, confirming that a majority of MPs backed him.

      Observers criticised the conduct of last month's poll but two key
      critics have agreed to back Mr Mutharika, a trained economist.

      Food aid

      This handed him a majority in parliament and ended street and legal
      protests over his election.

      Interest rates: 40%
      Inflation: 14%
      Foreign exchange reserves: 2.6 months of imports
      Currency fallen 25% since 2002
      600,000 need food aid

      "The priority of my government is to resume the economic programme with
      the IMF so that we can access resources necessary to fix the growth
      process," Mr Mutharika said.

      President Mutharika said the "huge domestic debt has reached
      unsustainable levels" of $600m. Its external debt is $2.9bn.

      Some 600,000 Malawians need food aid and Mr Mutharika said he would
      introduce "strategic" agriculture programmes to increase food

      "I must say that a nation that cannot feed itself cannot claim to be a
      sovereign and independent country," he said.


      Zim opposition should be 'charged with treason'


      30 June 2004 11:49

      Heated debate erupted in Zimbabwe's Parliament on Tuesday when the
      ruling party said opposition lawmakers should be probed for treason for
      allegedly working with Britain, the former colonial power.

      President Robert Mugabe's ruling party lawmakers last week said they
      wanted to investigate a recent statement by British Prime Minister Tony
      Blair that his government was working with Zimbabwe's opposition
      Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

      "I call for the MDC, and all members of the MDC, to be investigated,
      and if possible be charged with treason and suspended from Parliament,"
      Phillip Chiyangwa of the ruling Zimbabwe African National
      Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) told parliament.

      He accused the MDC of working "in concert with foreign and dangerous
      powers -- [including] Britain."

      The debate came after Information Minister Jonathan Moyo last week
      revealed in Parliament that Blair had told the British House of Commons
      that his government was working "closely with the MDC on the measures
      that we should take in respect of Zimbabwe".

      The ruling party said this was evidence that the MDC is a front for
      Britain, which it consistently accuses of wanting to oust the Mugabe

      Britain, along with the United States and the European Union, have
      imposed targetted travel and financial restrictions on Mugabe and dozens
      of his close associates for alleged human rights abuses.

      Opposition lawmaker Tendai Biti, defending his party, has said the
      ruling party has only itself to blame for its "self-imposed sanctions
      through misgovernance and misrule".

      Zimbabwe remains deeply politically divided and international efforts
      to broker conciliatory talks between the two sides have failed. -


      Hungry for Zimbabwe's land

      By Alastair Leithead
      BBC correspondent on the Zimbabwean border

      The radio crackles in the small office in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second
      city, as the few white farmers still left on the land keep in touch.

      Most white farmers have left the farms since the redistribution
      programme started

      The government's four-year land redistribution programme to undo
      "colonial wrongs" by giving white-owned land to black Zimbabweans has
      led to violence and death.

      White farmers are still being forced from their land, and the threats
      from war veterans and squatters are real, farmers say.

      "They've told some of my workers that if I don't move out they will
      kill one of my family, or burn the homesteads down," one farmer
      explained through tears of anger and frustration.

      'Racial thing'

      He is bitter and angry after two years of battling to keep his land.

      His vegetables supply some government departments and ministers, but
      this is not enough to protect him from losing his farm without

      "Once you leave your property you'll never go back, because they will
      take it over completely. Perhaps it is a racial thing - they don't like
      some of us whites, or all of us whites. They want what we have," he

      "My mind changes 10 times a day - sometimes I think we should surrender
      and get the hell out for my family's sake, but then I'm from Scottish
      descent and have Scottish blood in me - I do not surrender."

      Driving around areas that were huge commercial farms, it is obvious the
      impact the reform has been having.

      Small holdings have been set up by the road, but the wicker silos of
      maize are only a half or a third full - and the harvest has just been

      Maize is still being planted and grown, but a farmer explained to me it
      is the wrong season and is too cold; all the effort will yield nothing.

      The plight of the white farmers is a story often told, but the plight
      of the black farm workers whose livelihoods depended on the commercial
      farms are the true sufferers.

      'Die poor'

      "Most of the farm workers are now out of a job and are in such a bad
      situation now. This is where we got our money to feed our children and
      get them educated," said a black farm manager, who asked not to be

      "There should have been a system of distributing the land, but the way
      it was done was totally wrong. I worked my whole life thinking things
      will turn better at the end, but I'll just die poor as I am," he said.

      People are already suffering from this lack of food.

      I was taken to a derelict block of flats where a small group of
      children sang as they waited for lunch, their only meal of the day.

      A charity feeding programme has been set up there to help people who
      are desperately short of food, in a country which used to export maize
      to the rest of southern Africa.

      The project leader did not want her organisation named for fear the
      government will close them down.

      "It shows them up. It shows the rest of the world they are not doing
      what they are supposed to be doing which is caring for their people. The
      private agencies are having to come in and do that," she said.

      "Children are dying from starvation. We had children fainting and not
      able to even walk to get food as they were too weak.

      "This country has been brought to its knees and it is slowly dying. All
      we are doing is holding our finger in the dam trying to stop the final
      disaster - but it's coming."

      State television, however, shows happy Zimbabweans reaping record
      harvests, as the government boasts that there is more maize than the
      country needs.

      The United Nation's World Food Programme was recently banned from
      completing its crop assessment, but independent surveys say the country
      has only half of what it needs.

      Political weapon

      "They have a plan here to starve people to death for political ends -
      to get everyone aligned to their party at all costs, which is absolutely
      diabolical and vicious," says the Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, an
      outspoken critic of the government.

      "I'm very, very concerned as the government is telling lies, saying
      there is enough food and already babies are dying. We have statistics
      from the city council that 50 to 60 have died already of malnutrition.

      "I'm really scared that people will die by their thousands unless this
      matter of food is opened up."

      The battle for land
      There is evidence the ruling party has been using food aid as a
      political weapon.

      Last month there was a by-election in Lupane north of Bulawayo, which
      the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) lost, even though it
      is in the party's heartland.

      "The people of Lupane were told if they didn't vote for Zanu-PF, no
      food aid would be forthcoming. That had the effect of deterring some
      5,000 people who would have voted for us, like women with young children
      or vulnerable groups," said David Coulthard, the MDC's shadow justice

      The crops have just been harvested, and there is more maize around now
      than there will be next March, when the parliamentary elections are due
      to be held.

      The fear is that political manipulation of food aid will be used on a
      much bigger scale.
    • Christine Chumbler
      ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17 The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22 8:06 AM

        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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