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  • Christine Chumbler
    Malawi to Register Highest Unemployment Record Malawi Standard (Blantyre) August 26, 2004 Posted to the web July 26, 2004 Paul Kang ombe Blantyre Malawi is
    Message 1 of 1046 , Jul 27, 2004
      Malawi to Register Highest Unemployment Record

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      August 26, 2004
      Posted to the web July 26, 2004

      Paul Kang'ombe

      Malawi is going to register the highest unemployment record ever, when
      the number of jobseekers entering the labour market doubles from 200,
      000 annually to about 400, 000 next year.

      According to statistics made available by the Technical Entrepreneur
      and Vocational Training Authority (TEVETA), out of the estimated 400,
      000 new jobseekers who will enter the labour market in 2005 only 35, 000
      people would secure wage employment in the formal sector.

      Research conducted by GTZ and Danida indicates that the country's
      formal sector is able to accommodate 35, 000 jobseekers annually and
      this means that about 365, 000 will be jobless.

      The Authority's Executive Director Johns Chafa, explained in an
      interview that the figures are alarming, and that it is one of
      government's major challenges.

      "The figures are authentic even if you crosscheck with the Ministry of
      Labour and the National Statistics Office. The figures, are alarming
      because out of the figure only 35, 000 are assured of getting waged
      employment and the rest are not sure of getting a job," he said.

      The Commissioner of Labour, Zebron Kambuto, could not be reached for a
      comment as he was reported to be attending a workshop in Mangochi, his
      deputy was also reported to be in a management meeting as we went to

      Chafa explained that the number of people joining the labour market
      would double from next year because of a number of factors like the
      introduction of the free primary school education, number of drop outs
      in both primary and secondary schools, school leavers, colleges and
      vocational training centres.

      The Executive Director noted that with the dwindling economy, it is the
      challenge of the government to put in place life long learning skills
      for the people who will be accommodated in the informal sector.

      He said that people must be trained in bricklaying, carpentry and
      vegetable growing before they join the labour market.

      Chafa disclosed that TEVET has embarked on a pilot project aimed at
      equipping youths with skills that would make them self-reliant citizens
      even if they drop out of school.

      "We are carrying out a TEVET programme in some primary schools in
      Mchinji where we are teaching people vegetable growing," he said.

      This project will be part of the programme whereby government is
      planning to integrate life long learning skills in the primary school

      Chafa could not disclose how much money has been pumped into the
      Mchinji pilot project.

      "I am not in the office and cannot say how much money has been pumped
      in the project.

      The project is funded by GTZ and the GOVA is our consultant," he said.


      Bingu Creates Legal Crisis

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      August 26, 2004
      Posted to the web July 26, 2004

      Wisdom Chimgwede

      President Bingu wa Mutharika's controversial replacement of former
      Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Fahad Assani with inexperienced
      Ishmael Wadi, has only increased an existing constitutional vacuum,
      legal experts and practitioners have said.

      Lawyers speaking in separate interviews, observed with concern that
      already the legal fraternity is operating without a leader at the Bar as
      they still wait for the President to appoint the Attorney General (AG).

      "Although there are such officers like the Solicitor General, at the
      Ministry of Justice, the Attorney General and the DPP are the two
      highest positions recognised by the Republican Constitution in sections
      98 and 99.

      "And as far as the question of the DPP is concerned, Fahad Assani is
      constitutionally still in office because he has not been given a letter
      explaining his expulsion and the new man (Wadi) is legally not supposed
      to start work until confirmed by the Public Appointments Committee
      (PAC)," said Shabir Latif of Sacrane Gow and Company.

      He said the crisis would be even aggravated if PAC rejects the
      President's appointee "because that would mean that the president should
      be scouting for a proper replacement."

      "Critically looking into the issue, we can say currently there are two
      DPPs, Assani who has a legal mandate and a defacto DPP in Wadi without
      any legal powers," he said.

      Like many other observers, Latif who is currently acting on
      instructions from Assani to challenge the President's decision as
      unconstitutional, observed that the manner in which Mutharika acted
      leaves a lot to be desired.

      "We are challenging the purported removal of Assani as

      We are moving that pending a judicial review, Assani remains in office.
      And you must understand me better, we are saying purported because you
      don't fire any person, let alone a senior man like the DPP through the
      media," he explained.

      Section 102 of the Republican Constitution under removal of the DPP,
      provides that DPP shall be in office for five years.

      Law Society Secretary, Linda Ziyendammanja, said the five years should
      not be seen like a presidential term of office as the DPP's is a
      contractual agreement signed between government and the person appointed
      to that office.

      Assani's contract was signed in February 2001 and was expected to
      expire December next year.

      However the section adds that the person may be fired if the President
      is satisfied that the person holding that office is: incompetent in the
      exercise of his or her duties; is compromised in the exercise of his or
      her duties to the extent that his or her ability to exercise his/her
      functions impartially is in serious question; is otherwise
      incapacitated; or has attained the age prescribed for retirement.

      "Definitely, Assani doesn't follow on the third and forth but then the
      President must provide evidence," added Latif.

      Head of Law at Chancellor College, Edge Kanyongolo, confirmed there was
      a constitutional and administrative disorder saying "some of these
      decisions by the President may be due to lack of proper advice by those
      close to him otherwise this is an anomaly."

      Section 98 (1) of the constitution states that there shall be the
      office of the Attorney General, who shall be the principal adviser to
      the government.

      "This means that it is an obligation to have the Attorney General and
      practically you wonder who is advising on these legally implicating
      matters," said Kanyongolo.

      He also noted that most statements being made by the Chief of Staff
      make one wonder if there are advisers.

      "You look at such statements by the Chief of Staff. Those have a lot of
      legal implications, raise legal eyebrows, but it is no wonder because
      there is no legal advice," he observed.

      Minister of Information Ken Lipenga, however, said it was the
      President's prerogative to appoint an AG and such officers like the
      Solicitor General, could be doing the AG's job in his/her absence.

      "We must assume that the President would appoint one in due course,
      after all there are many other lawyers at the Ministry of Justice like
      the Solicitor General. We therefore have no reason to panic," he said.

      But the Constitution says in section 98 (2): "such powers as are vested
      in the office of the Attorney General may be exercised by the person
      appointed to that office or such other persons in the public service,
      acting as subordinates of that person and in accordance with his or her
      general and specific instructions.

      This, said Ziyendammanja, means that other government lawyers can only
      do the AG's jobs under his instructions.

      She argued that some of the decisions the other officers can make in
      the absence of Attorney General may not be legally binding.

      "We are not saying the officers who are there are incompetent, but the
      AG is guide and top most man at the Bar and no-one can occupy his
      shoes," she said.

      Lipenga however conceded that protocol is being broken in the way state
      statements are being channelled where the Chief of Staff seems to have
      taken over the positions of Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet
      Bright Msaka and that of Charles Matabwa, Chief Secretary of Civil

      "The two are the best to speak but possibly the Chief of Staff has a
      lot of information in some of these things," he observed.

      On the issue of the DPP's removal, Kanyongolo said the former is
      technically still man in-charge of public prosecutions because the ideal
      situation provides that Wadi cannot start operating before being
      confirmed by the Public Appointments Committee of Parliament.

      "The President's actions have created a very unclear atmosphere for a
      smooth handover between the two men. That's a very serious
      administrative lapse created by the President's manner in which he has
      handled these issues. Indeed, there is a crisis," he said.

      Ziyendammanja however observed that there was a loophole in the
      Constitution as it does not specify the period within which a new
      administration must appoint Attorney General after taking office. She
      further said that the situation on the ground means that there is no-one
      who would defend the government in case of any litigation and that the
      government cannot be sued nor defend itself during the interim period.

      "But we advise the President to be a little serious next time he
      appoints people to high offices. Just like he is demanding Civil
      Servant's CVs, he should also look at the CV of those he wants to

      To me demanding CV means he wants relevant people with relevant
      experience and a proven track record," she observed.

      Other observers from the NGO fraternity have expressed serious
      reservations about the manner of hiring and firing of the DPP and others
      during the recent weeks hence casting a shadow as regards the
      genuineness of the President's belief of appointing on merit and further
      alluding to some witch hunting of those that have been reputed to be
      close to the former President.

      "Of all the positions why target that of the DPP? And why disgrace an
      army general who has rendered loyal service to the nation by retiring
      him before the end of the contract and without prior notification? Why
      does it become necessary to ask for CVs of serving Civil Servants when
      you don't scrutinize those of the new entrants? Why the emotion and the
      fanfare in the firing of a DPP and an Army General? Certainly this
      speaks volumes about the trend of events in the months to come and this
      could be a deliberate ploy to get rid of all loyalists of the previous
      regime but this is the same UDF government," commented Mussa Wa
      Kadalikanga of Institute of Public Concerns an NGO on governance.


      EC Given an Ultmatum to Correct the Situation

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      August 26, 2004
      Posted to the web July 26, 2004

      Lucius Phaiya

      Stakeholders in the country's May 20 elections who met recently in
      Blantyre observed that there were a lot of anomalies that rocked the
      poll and need to be addressed before the pending by-elections and local
      government elections.

      In a three-day conference dubbed "The Power of the Vote: Malawi's May
      2004 Elections," leading experts in political science, the media, civil
      society, conflict prevention, political parties, the courts and election
      management presented papers analysing the elections from preparations,
      conduct and response after the elections.

      Of special interest was the role played by the media, whereby experts
      conceded to have performed below standard.

      However, MBC Deputy Director General, Eunice Chipangula, praised the
      media for broadly doing civic education that enabled the voters to
      prevent technical mistakes as evidenced by a decrease in null and void
      votes this time around.

      Chipangula also commended media houses that provided instant unofficial
      results from Returning Officers, saying they helped in killing the
      suspense that ensued due to the delay of the Electoral Commission's
      tally centre activity.

      "The electronic media was active in informing the nation of the voting
      turn out at a time when even the electoral commission could give no
      details," she said.

      But Chipangula observed that many journalists had fear of the unknown
      as they wanted to support the party they believed would win, so that it
      would secure their jobs [public media workers], or consider them for
      better rewards[private media workers].

      This she said, contributed to most of the biased coverage of different
      political parties which dominated the campaign period.

      Malawi Institute of Journalism [MIJ] Senior Trainer, Levi Zeleza Manda,
      said there is need to reform media regulating institutions like the
      Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority [MACRA], and Media Council of
      Malawi, which he said can have direct impact on the behaviour and
      ethical discipline of the journalists.

      "These bodies are strong in that they are normally run by journalists,
      and promote interests of the same journalists, which makes them closer
      and so easier to interact," Zeleza said.

      He also asked the Electoral Commission to keep the stringers it trained
      for future use and recommended that inserts on elections, which appeared
      in some newspapers, be upheld.

      But a broadcasting consultant, Tim Neale, who also acted as
      Commonwealth Media Advisor to the Electoral Commission between January12
      and May 28 argued that the media, in any democracy, must act in a fair
      and balanced way, not only at election time but at all times, charging
      that failure to do so is directly affecting the interests of the

      He assessed that the major public broadcasters, MBC and TVM failed to
      make a positive contribution to the electoral process because the ruling
      party had set up strategies that saw biased coverage on the stations
      tilt to their advantage.

      "This was so because some [not all] of editors and senior reporters,
      for political or economic reasons, accepted this scenario and
      implemented the policy," said Neale.


      DDP's Inexperience Still Matter of Concern

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      August 26, 2004
      Posted to the web July 26, 2004


      The legal fraternity says the new Director of Public Prosecutions,
      Ishmael Wadi, is in an awkward position to achieve maximum delivery.

      Head of Law at Chancellor College, Edge Kanyongolo, said Wadi is on a
      very serious disadvantage as the office of the DPP requires a person of
      strong background in prosecution.

      "That is a critical office. Sometimes he is required to make very
      serious assessments on prosecution and he is especially in an awkward
      position because he has never prosecuted and he is new in the public
      service," said the law lecturer.

      Linda Ziyendammanja, Secretary of Law Society, said the nation would
      not rule out the possibility of Wadi learning while in office "but the
      question is how long shall it take for him to learn two things at the
      same time and how he is going to manage his more senior colleagues at
      the office."

      "He has never prosecuted and he has never been in the civil service.
      That is a very serious problem but we are not underrating him that he
      cannot learn, but the question is when shall he be ready?" she queried.

      She chose to differ with those arguing that competence does not come
      with the number of years, saying experience matters to an extent,
      because the office of the DPP requires a person with a lot of respect at
      the Bar.

      She said the office of the DPP has specific line of duty, which is to
      prosecute, and Wadi has only been involved in civil litigation since his
      admittance to the Bar, two years ago.

      She however noted that experience may however be without substance if
      the particular person is diligent and dedicated enough.

      Shabir Latif of Sacranie Gow and Company said a DPP is supposed to be a
      lawyer of some seniority.

      "Obviously you don't expect a two year-old practitioner to have the
      kind of competence of a senior prosecutor. It's just a question of
      drawing a line, while the Constitution does not explicitly provide for
      experience, but it clearly envisaged a person of some seniority.

      "The DPP has to be a supervisor of many other senior lawyers. He
      therefore needs to have the respect of his colleagues at the Bar. You
      can't just pick up a person with no respect, how is he going to operate?
      Next time we shall hear the President has appointed an Attorney General
      straight from university," he observed.

      He added that it was in fact unfair on the part of a person who has
      never been involved in criminal law practice to accept such an

      "It's like making a Cardiologist head of Obstetrics," he observed.

      Attempts to have the new DPP's Curriculum Vitae proved futile. He
      promised to send the CV but never came back until we went to press.

      However he was quoted in the press as saying, he thinks he is competent
      and his interest will be to deal with corruption cases. The commentators
      have however countered by challenging that the job profile for a DPP is
      not just about corruption cases, but a wider portfolio. In corruption
      cases the DPP only gives an opinion and either consent or rejection to
      prosecute but he has cases where he has to stand in court against more
      seasoned and senior colleagues.


      Halaal Dept. Gags Moslems

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      August 26, 2004
      Posted to the web July 26, 2004

      Paul Kang'ombe

      The Halaal Department of the Muslim Association has vehemently rejected
      the two major supermarket operators, People's Trading Centre (PTC) and
      Shoprite to sell meat and meat products to Moslems in the country, for
      failure to comply with the religion's demands.

      Sheikh Salim Chikwatu, during Chakudya ndimoyo programme on Radio
      Islam, urged Moslems to avoid buying meat or meat products from the two

      According to Sheikh Chikwatu, the halaal department advised PTC and
      Shoprite to separately transport meat from abbatoirs and preserve it
      separately halaal in their cold rooms. This was after an inspection team
      from the department discovered that different types of meat are stored
      in one cold room.

      "PTC and Shoprite said that it was going to be costly to meet the
      halaal department's demands," he said.

      The association said that the two shops also refused a request not to
      sell pork in their shops, which is halaam in Islam.

      "They volunteered to organise a halaal department that will be situated
      away from halaam foods in their shops but refused to stop selling pork,
      claiming that doing so would deny other people their delicacy," he

      The association refused to give out Halaal licences to the two shops
      and ordered Moslems not to buying meat or meat products from these

      The Sheikh said: "Any Moslem should know that the two shops are not
      halaal certified and buying meat from them is against their religion."
      Adding,"If you risk buying meat from Shoprite and PTC, that is between
      you and Allah."

      PTC's group General Manager, Paul de Walter, could not be reached for a
      comment as he was reported to be out of office.

      Shoprite's General Manager was reported to be out of the office but a
      senior official who spoke on anonymity said that the Halaal department
      were just too much.

      "They should know that most of our products are imported and to
      transport halaal meat separately, say from South Africa to Malawi and
      again to preserve it separately as well would be expensive," he

      The source also noted that it would be very unfair to stop completely
      stocking and selling meat that is not halaal, as the non-moslem
      community constitute the largest percentage of the shopping population.


      Ministry to Shed Off Teachers

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      August 26, 2004
      Posted to the web July 26, 2004

      Akimu Kaingana

      Tension has gripped primary school teachers in the country who fear for
      their jobs due to the devolution exercise which will see their parent,
      Ministry of Education, shed them off and become answerable to city and
      town assemblies, before the end of this year.

      Head teachers in some primary schools in the city of Blantyre have been
      briefing their teachers of the new development when they cease to be
      under the Ministry of Education.

      The news has spread at a whirlwind speed, although there has been no
      circular from the Ministry's headquarters in Lilongwe.

      Among their concerns, teachers say they will be forced to retire and
      re-apply for the jobs in various assemblies and many fear that they may
      not be able to get a job since they are not sure of their new employer.

      However, experts say there is no need for alarm as teachers will not
      lose their jobs and describe the process as normal.

      "No one will be forced to retire. We are only relieving the Ministry of
      Education of certain functions. All primary school teachers and their
      managers will be under city and town assemblies and this is due to the
      decentralisation process, which started in 2000.

      "All issues of human resource, transfers, discipline and salaries will
      be handled by the assemblies," said Deputy Principal Secretary in
      Ministry of Education, Buxton Mpando, adding that the ministry will only
      be responsible for policy issues.

      He said there is no need for teachers to panic since the ministry will
      be issuing money through the local government to various assemblies,
      that will in turn be paid to teachers by their assemblies.

      However, Mpando could not shed more whether this move would not
      contradict the free primary school education started by the Bakili
      Muluzi's administration in 1994 saying the emphasis now is on teachers
      and not infrastructure.

      There are 45,300 teachers throughout the country and out these, 17,300
      are females, according to Mpando.

      In the new arrangement, Chief Executives in City Assemblies and heads
      of municipalities will have the autonomy of running their schools the
      way they want, according to experts.

      They could for example introduce their new ways of raising funds,
      meaning parents should brace themselves up for paying for the otherwise
      free basic education.

      In a separate interview, Lilongwe City Assembly Chief Executive
      Professor Donton Mkandawire who is an educationist himself, said there
      is nothing new since all primary schools were under local government
      authority during the period before the first multi-party general

      "After the elections in 1994, we had no assemblies and government took
      over the running of schools but now that we have councillors and mayors,
      let the status quo remain," said Mkandawire.

      He said teachers should not worry as the assemblies will be getting
      what he called conditional grants and this money will be specifically
      for salaries.

      Mkandawire added that this move was supposed to start this year in
      July, but the delay of the budget presentation has also affected the
      decentralisation process.

      Professor Mkandawire said the new arrangement would bring competition
      among city and town assemblies and hence improve the quality of

      "Of course, various assemblies have the autonomy to introduce school
      funds but that is no reason for worry because school funds have always
      been there.

      Malawi had local government elections in 2000 after a long time without
      mayors and councillors. The first phase of the decentralisation process,
      which started then is scheduled to end by 2006.


      Bodies pile up in Zimbabwe

      Stanley Karombo | Harare

      27 July 2004 07:53

      Bodies are piling up in Harare's mortuaries, because relatives of the
      dead refuse to claim them. Most of these relatives cannot afford the
      cost of a funeral.

      While the city council has been giving paupers' burials to the
      unclaimed bodies, it is now running out of burial space.

      Beauty Moyo, one of those unable to afford a decent burial for her
      relative, breaks down, sobbing, in a deserted corridor of Harare's main
      Parirenyatwa hospital. Her sister died two months ago.

      Adjusting her hat, Moyo glances at the floor and, barely audibly,
      explains she's not mourning her beloved sibling's death as much as she's
      mourning her family's inability to give her ''a decent burial''.

      Moyo lives in Glenview, a poor suburb of Harare. Despite her family's
      desire to lay her sister to rest in peace -- they simply cannot afford
      it, she says.

      When asked if she had seen the adverts in the state-controlled
      newspaper The Herald, urging people to come forward and claim bodies of
      relatives at mortuaries, she nodded in the affirmative.

      The family has decided that her sister will receive a pauper's funeral,
      Moyo says.

      Elsewhere, at Harare Central hospital, a distraught family hovers
      outside the mortuary. One of the family members, shabbily-dressed
      Namatai Jumbe, says her father passed away while at the hospital.

      Sobbing, she explains that the surviving members of her family could
      not afford to pay a driver to transport their father's body to their
      rural home in Musana, about 30km from the capital.

      ''We have to go home and sell cattle, so we can raise the amount needed
      to transport the body,'' says Jumbe, wiping away her tears.

      Hospital mortuaries all over Zimbabwe are overcrowded as increasing
      numbers of people fail to claim and collect the bodies of their loved

      ''Some,'' says Harare Central Hospital's superintendent, Dr Chris
      Tapfumaneyi, ''are poor and abandon the bodies on purpose, hoping the
      city will lay their relatives to rest.

      ''Others are the bodies of dead vagrants, collected by police."

      In a country where inflation has hit over 600%, the price of burial has
      also gone up.

      A basic burial -- including cemetery, grave fees, a modest wooden
      casket and transportation -- costs about 380 US dollars.

      This is more than the annual minimum wage of the majority of
      Zimbabweans. It is also beyond the reach of at least 70% of the
      country's population who are unemployed. As prices climb, so does the
      number of unclaimed corpses crowding mortuaries.

      Parirenyatwa hospital's executive officer, Thomas Zindoga, confirms
      there are 66 bodies at his institution's mortuary.

      While walking through its corridors, it is impossible to ignore the
      odour emanating from the mortuary because the cooling and refrigeration
      system packed up last week.

      Once inside, one is greeted with the ghoulish sight of bodies stacked
      on top of one another. Apart from the sight of infants' corpses, there
      are lifeless figures covered by either canvas or cotton sheets. Some
      have been placed on stalls, others lie on the floor. Rural residents are
      fortunate; they bury their dead on family plots, according to their

      Unfortunately, city dwellers have no such luxury. The HIV/Aids death
      toll is increasing the demand for graves. The World Health Organisation
      (WHO) estimates that as many as 3 000 people die in Zimbabwe of
      Aids-related illnesses every week.

      While this increases the need for burial space, there is no matching
      supply; the capital's cemeteries are already overcrowded.

      Phillip Mataranyika, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Association of
      Funeral Assurers, describes the lack of burial space as 'desperate',
      urging city officials to allocate more land. But the municipality
      spokesperson, Leslie Gwindi, declined to comment.

      Mataranyika predicts more families may consider cremation, despite
      their preferring a conventional burial. In June, the cash-strapped
      council ran out of the imported inflammable gas used at its only

      An undertaker in Harare, who asked not to be named, says private
      funeral homes in the city are storing at least 100 bodies, all due for

      A dozen have been transported to the second city, Bulawayo, which has a
      diesel-fired crematorium. But diesel fuel -- like regular petrol -- is
      also scarce.

      A leader of Harare's Hindu community, who spoke on condition of
      anonymity, says they may waive strict religious rules to allow
      non-Hindus to be cremated in their small diesel-fired crematorium.

      This may offer some Zimbabweans, like the Moyo and Jumbe families, an
      alternative -- if not ideal means -- to bid farewell to their loved
      ones. - Sapa-IPS


      Zambia, Angola discuss return of refugees

      Lusaka, Zambia

      27 July 2004 12:28

      Zambian and Angolan interior ministers on Tuesday were holding talks to
      try to clear obstacles in the way of allowing about 40 000 refugees from
      Angola to return home, an official said.

      Zambia is sheltering close to 200 000 Angolan refugees, the highest
      number of Angolans living outside their country.

      Only 3 000 Angolans have returned home since a United
      Nations-coordinated programme was launched last month.

      "We are concerned with the slow process the exercise is taking," said
      Zambia's Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Peter Mumba.

      Zambia is concerned that, at the current pace, it will be difficult to
      meet the objective of helping 40 000 Angolans return to their country by
      the end of 2004.

      At the meeting organised by the United Nations High Commissioner for
      Refugees, the ministers and other senior government officials are to
      discuss chartering planes to fly refugees back home as travel by road is
      proving to be very slow, Mumba said.

      Heavy rains causing flooding of roads and landmines have impeded
      refugee return, causing the programme to be temporarily halted last

      Refugee return from Zambia only resumed last month after the roads were
      cleared and declared safe. -- Sapa-AFP
    • 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

        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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