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  • Christine Chumbler
    Malawi Gets K2 Billion From Agoa Malawi Standard (Blantyre) September 17, 2004 Posted to the web September 17, 2004 Paul Kang ombe Blantyre Malawi has realized
    Message 1 of 1046 , Sep 20, 2004
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      Malawi Gets K2 Billion From Agoa

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      September 17, 2004
      Posted to the web September 17, 2004

      Paul Kang'ombe
      Blantyre

      Malawi has realized about $200 million, approximately (K2 billion) in
      foreign exchange earnings from textile and garments exports under the
      African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) for the past one and a half years,
      officials have said.

      The Malawi Garments, Textile and Leather Industrial Council
      Chairperson, Kentilal Desai however said in an interview that this is
      not to their anticipation.

      He noted that the foreign exchange earned is not that much because the
      industry imports most of the raw materials including polyester and
      fabrics.

      "AGOA was a credit to Malawi just about one and a half years ago and
      there has been tremendous growth from American export market. Some of
      the companies have achieved 200 percent export growth in AGOA market and
      it has given bloodline to some industries that were sick," the
      chairperson said.

      "If the raw material is available next door, we can make ourselves
      competitive on the world market. Malawi has all the ingredients to
      produce good products at competitive price only as long as the required
      assistance and resources are made available for the industry," he
      observed.

      Desai challenged that the textile and garments industry would become
      the major forex spinner and employer with the availability of the
      resources.

      Desai asked for government and donor intervention to revamp the
      industry that has potential but lacks resources.

      He further observed that Malawi exports less into AGOA as compared to
      other countries like Lesotho, Swaziland, Kenya and Uganda hence the need
      to attract investors.

      Africa exports less than one percent under AGOA, according to Desai.

      "The markets are available under various trade protocols and
      agreements. We have the ingredients, all that we need is to attract
      investors at local, regional and international level, but the question
      is how?

      "We still have a long way to go to satisfy AGOA. We need huge
      investments because our exports into AGOA are very small," said Desai.

      He urged the government to put in place a conducive environment, like
      lowering interest rates that banks charge on loans and loan drafts.

      The chairperson urged the government to provide tax incentives to
      companies that would create jobs to Malawians, and make the tax system
      affordable.

      Desai pointed out that there is no way an industry can be competitive
      by borrowing from a bank only to suffer interest rates.

      He recalled that interest rates went as high as 55 percent, even the
      current 35 percent is not competitive.

      We need interest rates to fall between 15 and 10 percent so that
      industry can expand.

      He noted that interest rates attract inflation which in turn affects
      the workforce as their earnings are eaten up by inflation.

      "The employee is not happy with his earnings and this has a direct
      impact on production because the worker has no stable mind. If a worker
      is not comfortable, he cannot be competitive.

      How do you expect an employee who has walked two-three kilometers to
      work effectively on the machine?" he asked.

      He said the newly formed Textile Garments and Textile Industrial
      Council would prioritize concerns of employees such as issues of
      housing, health and sanitation for workers among others.

      There are about 10 active textile and garments industries in Malawi
      with a workforce of about 10, 000 people, according to Desai.

      *****

      Mozambique And Malawi Strive to Check Crime

      Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique (Maputo)

      September 17, 2004
      Posted to the web September 17, 2004

      Maputo

      The district governments of Mecanhelas in the northern Mozambican
      province of Niassa, and Makinga, in southern Malawi, are to meet soon to
      discuss ways to check crime along the common border, which is said to
      have taken on alarming proportions recently.

      Mecanhelas district administrator Augusto Salamanda told AIM that the
      meeting, which will take place in Mecanhelas, "is very important for us,
      because the situation is causing serious concern". He said that major
      crimes have been reported near the border, including the sale of human
      organs.

      Salamanda said that a man was murdered in strange circumstances in
      Mecanhelas recently. "After this brutal murder, which occurred at a
      village near the border with Malawi, the criminals severed the victim's
      genitalia", he said.

      He acknowledged that "hacking off human body parts for sale is now a
      common practice in Mecanhelas, and the district government is worried
      about the situation". Investigations into this case showed that the
      organs were sold in Malawi.

      "When we investigate cases of dealing in human genitalia, people say
      that they are being sold in Malawi. Now, who the buyers are and where
      they live in Malawi, we do not know", said Salamanda.

      He said that three people have been arrested on the Mozambican side in
      connection with this murder, and hoped that they would reveal who the
      buyers are.

      Many local residents believe that these grisly mutilations are linked
      with the practice of witchcraft, which is a common and profitable
      business in Malawi.

      Some people, particularly in rural areas, believe that concoctions
      prepared on the basis of human genitalia will help them prosper in
      business and help heal certain diseases.

      Salamanda said that other crimes, committed by Malawians on Mozambican
      territory, call for the attention of the two governments.

      He said that, for instance, Malawians have seized nets belonging to
      Mozambican fishermen, in Mozambican waters on Lake Chirua. "They take
      the nets to Malawi with no explanation. We have contacted the Makinga
      district authorities for a meeting to help solve this problem, that
      worries our fishermen", he said.

      The Mecanhelas authorities have complained that large quantities of
      agricultural products, particularly maize, are being sold to Malawi
      illegally, which is blamed on the poor marketing system on the
      Mozambican side.

      A government source explained recently that the idea is not to forbid
      Mozambicans from selling their products in Malawi, because in an open
      economy people may sell their products wherever prices are higher, but
      "what we want is that such sales be recorded, for statistical
      purposes".

      Malawi is the main market for Mozambican small scale producers in some
      areas of Niassa, Nampula, Zambezia, and Tete provinces, because of the
      better prices Malawian traders offer.

      *****

      Maternal Deaths Still High

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      September 17, 2004
      Posted to the web September 17, 2004

      Lucius Phaiya
      Blantyre

      About 1,120 mothers die of maternal complications every year, Safe
      Motherhood Project in the ministry of health confirmed the statistics.

      Deputy Director of Clinical Services Responsible for Reproductive
      Health, Jane Namasasu, said in every 100,000 live births, 1,120 mothers
      die, representing 1.1%, a rate she described as very high as compared to
      the other SADC countries.

      Namasasu said this is due to cases whereby effects of the labour
      process occur in excess, leading to serious conditions which result in
      death.

      "Hypertensions and bleeding that occur at the time of labour sometimes
      become excessive and eventually lead death of the mother," said
      Namasasu.

      She also mentioned delay of the process of delivery as a contributing
      factor to excessive loss of blood and hypertension, which end up in
      killing the mother.

      She explained that the delay could be caused by inability of the woman
      to deliver the baby either because it is big or because of other
      problems like serious infection.

      "Sometimes when labour starts, the woman becomes unable to deliver the
      baby because it is too big. In that case, she gets tired and the uterus
      may break, causing death," said Namasasu.

      Namasasu agreed that most of the problems can be treated by hospital
      personnel, but expressed disappointment that people do not rush pregnant
      women to hospitals until when a big problem comes up as they try to
      assist the mother out of hospital, and it is only too late when they
      decide to go to hospital.

      She appealed to people to be able to mobilise themselves because it is
      important to rush to hospital when labour starts. In fact, she said, the
      decision of people to go to hospital is the biggest problem her
      organisation is facing.

      Namasasu also said that young girls face the highest risk of maternal
      deaths because although they are capable of getting pregnant, they still
      lack the stamina of giving birth, because their bones are not mature
      enough for the exercise, which accounts for severe bleeding and death.

      "It is only proper to plan on when to have children. Early unplanned
      pregnancies usually result in complicated childbearing or abortion which
      is another serious killer," said she, arguing that family planning is
      the key to good and safe motherhood.

      However, she assured that her organisation cares for victims of illegal
      abortion because their goal is to protect life and not to let it phase
      away. She also said that government is doing a lot in ensuring that the
      problem is adequately addressed. "Government is providing pertinent
      drugs to every health centre as well as skills for our personnel in
      curbing this increasing syndrome, and information is being accessed to
      women so that they know dangers associated with abortions," said
      Namasasu.

      She said hospital facilities throughout the country have been equipped
      with radios for better communication, and Traditional Birth Attendants
      [TBAs] have been trained by government and also given bicycle ambulances
      for ferrying pregnant mothers to nearby hospital facilities.

      Public health is a major problem in Malawi as shown by health
      indicators of the Malawi Demographic and Health Survey [2000], which
      found that total fertility rate of women and children is 6.3, while the
      under 5 mortality rate stands at 189 per 1000 live births. Worst of all,
      the probability of underweight under-5 babies is at 30%.

      *****

      Bingu, Muluzi Caution Detractors

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      September 17, 2004
      Posted to the web September 17, 2004

      Akimu Kaingana
      Blantyre

      President Bingu wa Mutharika and his predecessor Bakili Muluzi,
      vehemently condemned the prophets of doom, both within and outside the
      ruling United Democratic Front (UDF), who are hell bent on destroying
      their long time comradeship saying "they will not succeed destroy the
      relationship and the party."

      The two expressed these sentiments at a long awaited joint rally held
      in the lakeshore district of Mangochi last Sunday.

      The incumbent and his campaign master arrived at Mponda Primary School
      grounds in a presidential chopper for the indaba dubbed, "development
      mass rally." Their tone as they later addressed the crowd, was that of
      concern for some people who were trying to sow seeds of disunity and
      discord in the UDF.

      They concurred that the emerging disunity could destabilize the country
      and place in jeopardy the very same development projects Malawians are
      so passionate about.

      "I knew Bakili Muluzi long time ago and we are personal friends. Those
      who are saying Bingu and Muluzi are divided don't know us. Even when we
      meet, he doesn't call me president, he calls me Bingu and I call him
      Bakili, and we will not allow anyone to destroy our cordial
      relationship," the president told thousands of people who braved the
      scorching sun to attend the rally.

      He threatened to reveal the names of those people within the UDF who
      were in the fore-front of destabilizing the party.

      The President told the gathering that unity is among the four pillars
      that will characterize his administration.

      The other three pillars are development and economic transformation,
      justice and equity and above all, peace and security for the 11 million
      plus Malawians.

      "We all know of countries where people have killed each other,
      buildings reduced to rubble and the national economy wrecked. I will
      therefore not allow anyone to destabilize this country," Bingu warned.

      This was the first rally for Mutharika since his victory at the
      controversial May 20 general elections preceded by an intensive country
      wide campaign trail by the former President.

      However, media reported a growing rift between the incumbent and his
      predecessor since the elections, mainly fuelled by some people from the
      clearly two camps of the UDF National Chair and the State President.

      Considered Muluzi's puppet before the poll, Mutharika has shown to be
      his own man and has surrounded himself with a completely new set of
      advisers, distinct from the party which ushered him to power. The
      president's choices triggered discontentment within the rank and file of
      the UDF. Those who do not like Mutharika's style of leadership, have
      accused him of not being thankful to Muluzi and UDF citing present and
      impending arrests of some top UDF officials on various charges ranging
      from corruption to abuse of public offices, as examples.

      Commenting on the relationship between government and the party, Bingu
      said anywhere else, the party puts the government in office but
      government is always superior to the ruling party.

      This statement is in sharp contrast to Muluzi as who had earlier told
      supporters that the ruling party was superior to government, as such, it
      could hardly survive without a strong political party back up.

      Mutharika then told the Mangochi gathering that UDF as a party should
      be strengthened to win the forth-coming by-elections and local
      government elections next year.

      He would also strengthen the party to ensure that it would win the
      Councillors' Elections.

      He thanked the people of Mangochi for voting immensely which saw him
      winning the presidential race.

      The climax of the rally came when Bingu told the people that his
      predecessor initiated many development projects that every Malawian of
      goodwill should appreciate applaud the former for.

      He immediately ordered that the magnificent Mangochi Bridge built under
      the leadership of Muluzi be renamed Bakili Muluzi Bridge.

      The road from Liwonde to Mangochi through Namwera has been renamed
      Bakili Muluzi Highway.

      After the announcement, excited women donning UDF party colours and
      Young democrats broke into jubilation singing songs of praise and
      dancing to the occasion.

      Meanwhile Bingu and Muluzi hugged each other as cameramen pushed and
      shoved to probably get the best shot of the day.

      Picking up the microphone, Muluzi said he was very thankful to Bingu
      for the honour as it showed his true character-that he is a man who is
      able to say thank you to people who supported him.

      The former president said he was very concerned with scathing remarks
      making headlines in newspapers that he must be arrested and arrests in
      general.

      "I am happy that you have relieved people from your assurance they were
      not happy at all. You mean someone must be arrested for initiating
      development programmes or for unexplained reasons? We will be setting a
      bad precedence and bad country," said Muluzi amidst songs and chants
      Atcheya! Atcheya!

      He echoed Bingu's sentiments that there are some people who are trying
      to put a wedge between him and his successor but disclosed to the
      gathering that those people woul fail since he had known Bingu for a
      long time.

      Muluzi advised Bingu not to be misled by his advisers who are bent on
      confusing him saying "some of us, spent not only time but resources as
      well to support you."

      Muluzi also advised the young democrats who were hoisting Muluzi's
      placards never to do so when the president was there. "This is a
      government function, you should carry Bingu's placards to show respect
      to the president," Muluzi told the young democrats.

      The former president thanked Bingu for coming to Mangochi to see the
      people after the elections saying there were153,076 votes from Mangochi
      alone which was not a mean achievement.

      He said this proves that UDF as a party is very strong in Mangochi and
      other parts of the southern region like Machinga, Zomba, Chiradzulu and
      Balaka.

      Muluzi said he made a lot of enemies even within the UDF when he
      paraded Bingu's nomination as presidential candidate and was surprised
      that the very same people who opposed Bingu pretend to be good and
      supportive to the president now that he is in power.

      He also retaliated that he, together with leaders like Chakufwa
      Chihana, fought against the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) one party regime
      to liberate Malawians from fear and intimidation, which is no longer the
      case now, considering that ten years have elapsed since the attainment
      of genuine freedom and democracy.

      The mass rally was also graced by foreign dignitaries from countries
      like United States of America, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania
      and Republic of China.

      *****

      Bingu Vows to Fulfill Campaign Promises

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      September 17, 2004
      Posted to the web September 17, 2004

      Akimu Kaingana
      Blantyre

      Mponda Primary School ground in Mangochi Central was a beehive of
      activity last Sunday afternoon. Hundreds of people started flocking to
      the venue of what was later to be dubbed, "the mother of all rallies" as
      early 9.00 am.

      The beating of drums and singing by traditional dancers could be heard
      from a distance, captivating more and more people.

      The weather was cruel. The sun was scorching and it was just too hot
      for comfort especially for people coming from Shire Highlands like
      Blantyre where it is generally cold.

      But people defied the cruel weather and thronged to the venue of the
      mass rally in Traditional Authority Mponda.

      Time was 1:15.Thousands of people who gathered at the ground waited for
      the arrival of president Bingu wa Mutharika and United Democratic Front
      (UDF) National Chairman Dr. Bakili Muluzi.

      The atmosphere turned electric when a presidential helicopter hovered
      in the air. As the chopper landed, a huge cloud of sandy dust engulfed
      Mponda primary school ground to an extent that no-one could see the
      other.

      Everybody covered his/her face. Some choked while others ran in
      different directions. The ordeal was short-lived and the crowd was back
      to life again. Women donning UDF party colours sang captivating songs as
      they welcomed Bingu and Atcheya to the podium.

      The waiting, the dust, and the sweltering heat was worth it as
      president Mutharika had brought good news to the people of Mangochi.

      "In Mangochi, you voted for me in the previous elections and this is
      why I have chosen to visit Mangochi to say, 'thank you'.

      "I will continue to pursue programmes of poverty reduction," said Bingu
      in a preamble of his speech.

      The president said politicians sometimes get drunk with politicking and
      promise the people the impossible.

      He recalled that when he promised to give a K500m loan to the people,
      he did not know from where he could get the money.

      But today he is a happy man because he has managed to source K800m for
      the loan scheme to distribute to the people, he said amidst a cheering
      crowd.

      "Let vulnerable women, chiefs, the youth access this loan. It is meant
      for the poor of the poorest," said Bingu.

      Touching on women empowerment, Bingu said he will live up to his word
      as evidenced by the appointment of Mary Nangwale as Inspector General of
      Police.

      The President called the IG to the podium so that all could see her.
      She was a marvel and envy of the Mangochi gathering as she moved to the
      podium with stamina.

      Nangwale replaced Joseph Iiron who has since been given a diplomatic
      post to Kenya. Nangwale becomes the first woman to be appointed
      Inspector General in the entire African continent.

      The president also said he had sourced a K25m loan from the World Bank
      and another K25 m would be coming this December and all would be for the
      development of this country. "And the development will start from
      Mangochi to show how thankful I am to you," said the President.

      One sticky issue during the campaign was salary increment for civil
      servants. Bingu was a proud man when he told the people that he has
      raised salaries of civil servants across board by 25 percent.

      The new salaries would be effected as soon as parliament winds up
      business.

      Malawians, whose survival is heavily dependent on agriculture, have all
      the reasons to smile as fertilizer prices have been heavily subsidized.

      A 50 kilogram bag of fertilizers like Urea and CAN have been reduced to
      K1400 from K2100.

      The aim is to make sure that almost everyone can afford fertilizers
      especially in the villages. However, the poor of the poorest will
      receive starter packs. The needy will receive a 25 kilogram bag of
      fertilizer and 5 kilogram of seed.

      The president then assured the people that whatever was promised during
      campaigns, it would be fulfilled, fondly referring to his predecessor as
      a political engineer and himself an economic development engineer.

      He then assured the people of Mangochi that the Mangochi - Monkey -Bay
      road will be government's priority since the district is also a haven
      for tourists.

      The president also told the gathering that he was aware some people are
      starving and government would do everything possible to distribute food
      handouts before it is too late.

      Regardless who voted or did not vote for him, president Bingu wa
      Mutharika assured the gathering that, development projects will be
      spread evenly without discrimination.

      Speaking at the same rally, former President Bakili Muluzi said there
      can never be economic transformation without peace and support of the
      grassroots.

      He said intimidation and fear of any kind should be removed among
      people and advised the state president to be careful with some of his
      advisers, who he said, could confuse him.

      *****

      City Guardians Seek Police Hand

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      September 17, 2004
      Posted to the web September 17, 2004

      Lucius Phaiya
      Blantyre

      The Blantyre City Neighbourhood Watch [BCNW] has asked police to
      strengthen security in the city.

      At a meeting held at Blantyre Police Station, BCNW members complained
      that security is not up to standard in the commercial city, and urged
      police to intervene quickly before things get out of hand.

      BCNW Chairman, Yunus Lambat, asked police to speed up cases when
      incidents of crime are reported, saying their current response is very
      poor.

      "Even though some of us may have guns, we still need your protection.
      If robbers attack my neighbour, all I can do is shoot in the air.

      "That puts even my life in danger, so, you who are mandated to shoot
      criminals must always be available," said Lambat. He complained that
      when they report robberies to police, the police give excuses that they
      don't have vehicles or fuel.

      "You better allow us to come over and pick you up other than let us
      suffer defencelessly," said Lambat.

      Another BCNW member, Munira Achutan, asked police to change the way
      they handle criminals, saying most officers lack professional respect.

      "As we recognise the role played by police in enforcing the law, they
      should also treat us in a humane manner.

      "Many police officers are harsh and don't listen to people's complaints
      and this is not fair," said Achutan.

      She also asked police to talk to Blantyre City Assembly to fix street
      lights and replace road signs.

      "Road signs are not clear and some of them are not even indicated. Some
      of us have paid fines for going a wrong direction in a one-way-traffic
      street when there is no visible road sign. Paying for such things is
      quite painful," Achutan said.

      Blantyre Community Policing Coordinator, Assistant Superintendent Frank
      Ndau agreed that sometimes the police fail to respond rapidly due to
      lack of transport and fuel because of limited funds.

      He however advised complainants to pick police officers to assist them
      tackle thieves, since the goal of the police is to serve the community.

      Community Policing is a police initiative to work closely with the
      public in curbing crime and all police stations follow the programme.

      In the Southern Region, Phalombe Police Station has successively ranked
      high as the best implementer of the programme.

      *****

      'Save Us From Hunger'

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      September 17, 2004
      Posted to the web September 17, 2004

      Blantyre

      Traditional Authority Mponda pleaded with the president to give food
      aid to the starving masses in his area, saying the situation has reached
      critical levels.

      The Chief, who was given five minutes to speak at the rally said there
      is widespread poverty among his subjects requiring government's
      immediate attention.

      "I also want to ask government to distribute seeds and fertilizer to
      the people before October, otherwise there are signs that it would rain
      soon," advised the chief.

      Speaking also at the same rally was Member of Parliament for Mangochi
      Central, Clement Chiwaya, who thanked the two leaders for visiting his
      constituency saying people voted for UDF and Bingu hence the visit of
      the two leaders was a good gesture.

      He said Mangochi is a tourist destination hence it was important for
      government to maintain all roads in the district, especially the one
      from Mangochi to Monkey-Bay.

      He also echoed the chief's sentiments saying hunger is critical and
      people need food aid before it is too late.
    • 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
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        ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        Chihana operated on

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Mughogho is now in charge of the party.

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

        *****

        Pillane proposes presidential age limit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        Mussa hails new driving licence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        UDF demands investigation on Kasambara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        *****

        Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land

        The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

        May 18, 2006

        Posted to the web May 19, 2006

        Andrew Lungu

         

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.

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

         

        *****

        Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests

        Harare, Zimbabwe

        22 May 2006 11:51

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

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

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

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

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

        Opposition protests

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Crackdown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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