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  • Christine Chumbler
    Corruption-Malawi: Mutharika Bites the Hand That Fed Him Inter Press Service (Johannesburg) September 29, 2004 Posted to the web September 29, 2004 Frank Phiri
    Message 1 of 1046 , Oct 5, 2004
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      Corruption-Malawi: Mutharika Bites the Hand That Fed Him

      Inter Press Service (Johannesburg)

      September 29, 2004
      Posted to the web September 29, 2004

      Frank Phiri
      Blantyre

      It was not something expected of a president who was roundly denounced
      as being a front man for his predecessor, when he took office.

      Equally, some may have taken a dim view of Malawian head of state Bingu
      wa Mutharika's credentials as a corruption buster, given that he left a
      job at the Lusaka-based Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa
      (COMESA) under a cloud.

      Appointed as COMESA Secretary-General in 1992, Mutharika was dismissed
      from the post in 1997 following allegations that he had defrauded the
      trade grouping of several thousand dollars.

      Yet, recent weeks have seen the Malawian leader take what may prove to
      be decisive steps in the fight to rid this Southern African country of
      graft. These include the appointment of new staffers to head two key
      institutions in the fight against corruption - and the announcement of a
      new attorney general.

      Thirty-two year old Ishmael Wadi, a lawyer previously in private
      practice, has been appointed as director of public prosecutions (DPP),
      while former high court judge Gustav Kaliwo is now heading the
      Anti-Corruption Bureau. Ralph Kasambara, a civil rights lawyer, has been
      named as Malawi's attorney general.

      During his first days in office, Wadi revealed that government had lost
      over 90 million dollars in cases of alleged corruption involving cabinet
      ministers and other senior officials.

      "If such funds had been properly used, government could have easily
      constructed 500,000 high-density houses for the poor," he said, amid
      protests from former DPP Farhad Assani that the president had terminated
      his contract prematurely.

      Assani and other members of the old guard have been accused of
      protecting senior civil servants from prosecution for graft. In
      particular, a requirement that the DPP give his or her consent before
      the Anti-Corruption Bureau can prosecute corruption suspects appears to
      have been abused: Assani stands accused of refusing to allow various
      cases to go ahead.

      A report issued in August by the Johannesburg-based South African
      Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) notes that the DPP's failure
      to give consent for prosecutions has severely undermined the
      Anti-Corruption Bureau's effectiveness since the body was established in
      1995.

      The "DPP has refused consent in 37 extremely politically sensitive and
      high value cases, including several senior members of the executive, or
      those connected with them," observes the report, which evaluated
      Malawi's ability to participate in the New Partnership for Africa's
      Development. This initiative aims to increase foreign investment in
      Africa through improving governance on the continent.

      Wadi is now reviewing case files that were gathering dust in government
      offices. As a result, high-ranking officials in parastatals and the
      ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) have found themselves in the
      Anti-Corruption Bureau's cross-hairs.

      Humphrey Mvula, a close associate of former president Bakili Muluzi,
      has been charged with four counts of corruption at the state-controlled
      Shire Bus Lines where he was previously chief executive. Mvula, who was
      fired from his post on Aug. 3, is accused of awarding contracts for the
      supply of goods to the company to firms that he has a stake in - or
      which are controlled by family members.

      Kandionamaso Padambo, finance director at the government-run
      Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) faces two charges of
      misconduct, while another suspect - Salim Bagus - has been implicated in
      tax evasion at ESCOM. Bagus, who served as a cabinet minister under
      Muluzi, is now the UDF's organising secretary.

      In addition, a question mark is still hanging over the conduct of
      former Finance Minister Friday Jumbe. During Muluzi's tenure, Jumbe was
      implicated in the illegal sale in 2001 of maize from the state-run
      Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) - which
      manages Malawi's grain reserves.

      Jumbe, who was general manager of ADMARC at the time, is accused of
      using the money from grain sales to fund construction of a hotel in the
      commercial capital, Blantyre - an allegation he denies.

      The sales, which coincided with a drought in Southern Africa, may have
      contributed to food shortages that continue to affect "thousands" of
      people in Malawi, according to the United Nations World Food Programme.
      Lilongwe previously accused the International Monetary Fund (IMF) of
      forcing government to sell off strategic grain reserves in 2000 to
      reduce debt. However, the Washington-based organisation has denied this
      charge.

      Peter Mulamba, former deputy general manager in charge of finance at
      ADMARC, is being sought by police to assist with their investigations
      into the dubious grain sales. However, he has reportedly fled Malawi,
      possibly for Britain.

      In addition to Jumbe and Bagus, other former cabinet ministers who are
      coming under the scrutiny of the Anti-Corruption Bureau include Clement
      Stambuli, Phillip Bwanali, Patrick Mbewe and Peter Fatchi.

      However, anti-corruption activists and opposition members are calling
      for the graft probe to extend still further - into the activities of
      Muluzi. Many wonder, for example, how the former president managed to
      finance the Keza office complex in Blantyre.

      "The main issue is how (Muluzi) as president was taking part in
      business activities like the establishment of Keza," says Rodgers Newa,
      chairman of the Human Rights Consultative Committee.

      Anthony Mukumbwa, head of the Corporate Governance Centre, adds that
      Muluzi's apparent increase in wealth requires an explanation: "In 1994
      Muluzi was almost bankrupt What is government waiting for? This is the
      opportune time to probe him." The Blantyre-based centre is a private
      auditing firm.

      While evidence of renewed vigour on the part of the DPP and
      Anti-Corruption Bureau has sparked a certain optimism in Malawi, legal
      experts have urged government prosecutors to exercise caution in
      proceeding with the cases.

      "They should tread carefully. As lawyers we don't want to see suspects
      walk away because of technicalities such as failure to establish certain
      aspects of a case," Linda Ziyendam'manja, spokesperson for the Malawi
      Law Society, a grouping of local legal experts, told IPS.

      Mukumbwa, however, fears that delays in prosecution could prove equally
      detrimental, as evidence could go missing - or be tampered with.
      "Already, a key suspect (Mulamba) is missing," he points out.

      For the moment, anti-corruption officials are playing their cards close
      to their chest as far as Muluzi is concerned.

      "There's no single file completed against Muluzi. We must first
      establish which laws restricted him from having business interests,
      because he may have assets which are legitimate," Wadi told IPS.

      In 2002, international donors cut off aid to Malawi, citing the
      government's economic mismanagement and lack-lustre performance in the
      fight against corruption. Previously, donors provided almost 40 percent
      of the country's budget.

      In the absence of international aid, government has turn to domestic
      borrowing, racking up debt of about 500 million dollars. This amounts to
      about three-quarters of the country's entire budget for the current
      financial year.

      Given this state of affairs, various commentators have implored
      Mutharika "to unleash the Levy Mwanawasa in him" - a reference to the
      Zambian president's role in investigations of his predecessor, Frederick
      Chiluba, who has been accused of extensive corruption.

      But as the lengthy probe against Chiluba has yet to deliver the goods,
      perhaps a different exhortation is needed.

      *****

      Malawi President's Farm a 'Serious Health Hazard'

      Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)

      September 26, 2004
      Posted to the web September 29, 2004

      Foster Dongozi
      Kadoma

      Bineth Farm, owned by the President of Malawi, Dr Bingu wa Mutharika,
      could pose a serious health hazard if poor sanitary conditions are not
      improved, says a report by a team from the General Agricultural and
      Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ).

      "The farm compound has no electricity and has poor water supplies,
      which expose workers to diseases such as cholera, dysentery and
      malaria.

      "The GAPWUZ team established that workers at Bineth Farm are living in
      poor pole and mud houses with broken roofs," reads part of the report,
      which was compiled by a team, after visiting the farm on September 16,
      2004.

      As a result, the farm management has been summoned to the union
      headquarters in Harare.

      GAPWUZ launched investigations at the farm after The Standard broke the
      story about the poor working conditions at the farm.

      So poor are the conditions on the property that in late July, the
      workers went on strike demanding better wages and improved working
      conditions.

      The strike was quickly quelled and its end coincided with the arrival
      of wa Mutharika in the country in August. The Malawian President was in
      Harare to officiate at the Zimbabwe Agricultural Show.

      The Malawian head of State reportedly delayed his departure in order to
      attend the burial of nationalist and national hero, Dr Eddison Zvobgo.

      He, however, took time out to visit Bineth farm, where he slaughtered a
      beast for people of Malawian origin, who live in the mining settlements
      of Kadoma and Patchway.

      The deputy secretary general of GAPWUZ, Gift Muti, told The Standard
      that some of the findings made by the team from the union included low
      wages of $38 000 a month instead of the stipulated $72 000.

      "During the meeting held with the workers, some complained that they
      were not being paid for maternity or sick leave. They were not paid
      overtime and were not provided with protective clothing," said Muti.
      Most of the workers at Bineth Farm are female.

      Muti said in addition, workers had been working at the farm for several
      years without becoming permanent staff.

      "According to labour regulations, anybody working continuously for
      eight months should be made a permanent employee," Muti explained.

      He said from their interviews of the farm management and the workers,
      it had become apparent that both parties were ignorant of the labour
      laws.

      *****

      Zambian leader sacks his deputy

      Zambia's leader Levy Mwanawasa has sacked his vice-president, for
      accusing neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo of backing opposition
      parties.
      A former TV evangelist, Nevers Mumba, was appointed from the opposition
      to be vice-president last year.

      "He has been misunderstanding his line of duty," said Mr Mwanawasa, who
      has apologised for his deputy's "embarrassing and careless" remarks.

      After his sacking, Mr Mumba said that his comments had been
      misrepresented.


      He said he was accusing individual Congolese businessmen, and not the
      government, of channelling money to parties who were stirring up unrest
      in Zambia.

      Mr Mwanawasa was at the UN General Assembly in New York, where he met
      Congolese President Joseph Kabila, when Mr Mumba made his accusations.

      "I am the only one who is supposed to issue statements on intelligence
      issues relating to other countries," Mr Mwananwasa said.

      Married to one of former Zambian leader Kenneth Kaunda's sisters, Mr
      Mumba made his name as a fiery TV evangelist.

      When he decided to move into politics he failed to make much headway
      polling just 2% of the vote when he ran for president in 2001.

      His appointment last summer as vice-president was a huge surprise
      marking a meteoric rise to power.

      Mr Mwanawasa now says he will remove his nomination as an MP as well,
      making his decline just as swift.


      *****

      MDC hints at poll participation

      Donwald Pressly | Cape Town

      05 October 2004 12:29

      Zimbabwe's official opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has
      hinted strongly that it will participate in the forthcoming March
      national election -- even though conditions at present appeared to
      indicate otherwise.

      The party argues that South Africa is losing up to half of its economic
      growth due to the crisis in Zimbabwe but it says there are stirrings of
      hope because South African President Thabo Mbeki has appointed senior
      aides to report progress every week "on the Zimbabwe issue".

      In a letter circulated to the media, the MDC's economics spokesperson
      Eddie Cross said he had no doubt that Zimbabweans would see concessions
      -- to the desire for democracy -- in the next few weeks as the
      Zimbabwean Parliament sat to adopt the required changes that were needed
      to fulfil the country's obligations under the recently signed SADC
      democracy protocols.

      Cross, writing from Bulawayo, said: "Zanu-PF will stall on these
      changes until the very last minute and then will implement them to the
      letter, not the spirit of the changes brought about by the new
      legislation."

      He noted that the country's neighbour, Botswana, was going through an
      electoral process at present -- and it was only 100km from where he
      lived but it "might as well be on another planet".

      "We watch the Botswana television each night and see the balanced
      presentation of the news and coverage of all political parties. We see
      the state president being given no special coverage and we see the
      adverts from the Electoral Commission."

      But in Zimbabwe the state media poured out propaganda 24 hours a day
      and coverage of his party was strictly limited to negative analysis and
      criticism, he added.

      "No exposure is given to MDC statements or speeches.No rallies are
      shown on TV or covered on the radio. On the ground no public meetings
      can be held without permission and attendance by the CIO (Central
      Intelligence Organisation). More than half of all applications are
      turned down -- most with no reasons given -- many of the authorised
      meetings are disrupted by [ruling] Zanu-PF thugs. It is an intolerable
      situation from any perspective."

      Cross said in the last parliamentary election in 2000 that the MDC had
      evidence of poll rigging to the extent of about 15% of the poll "and had
      this not taken place, the MDC would have won by a landslide".

      "In 2002, Zanu had to go overboard to get a win and after ballot
      stuffing up to 800 000 false votes and preventing nearly 400 000 MDC
      supporters from voting, they got a small majority," he argued.

      "There is no doubt in my mind, that by any measure, the MDC should have
      won both elections by a wide margin and had the courts done their duty,
      the MDC would have taken power at least three years ago.

      "Now we have another shot at the Zanu-PF hold on power. We have been
      told that our strategy of sticking with change through democratic
      methods is a waste of time -- that Zanu-PF only understands force. Well
      that may be true, but, for good or bad, we remain committed to change
      via a democratic vote.

      "With all its flaws we believe that only democracy offers African
      states a path out of ignominy and poverty.

      "Without a free and fair election, Zimbabwe is doomed to further
      destruction and despair. Failure to organise our affairs so that this
      becomes a possibility would also have profound implications for the
      entire region. I remain astounded that our neighbours show such scant
      concern for the fallout effect on their own economies of the Zimbabwe
      crisis in their midst. In particular, South Africa simply cannot go on
      sacrificing at least half its growth potential just for the sake of
      maintaining its Pan Africanist stance over Zimbabwe's delinquency."

      Looking ahead Cross said for those who lived in Zimbabwe and wanted
      change "we ask ourselves: will it work this time?".

      He added: "I hope that [the ruling Zanu-PF] has confidence that it [the
      election] will ... because only then will they allow the country to vote
      under reasonable conditions."

      "Given that freedom, even just for one day, we could be in for one of
      the biggest electoral shocks in recent African history -- and with it
      the chance of a new beginning."

      The MDC led by former trade unionist Morgan Tsvangirai has suspended
      its participation in the March election. - I-Net Bridge

      *****

      Zimbabwe: 'Disloyal Opposition' Denied Access to Public Media

      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

      October 4, 2004
      Posted to the web October 4, 2004

      Harare

      A senior Zimbabwean official declared at the weekend that the main
      opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would not be allowed
      access to the state media in the lead-up to general elections next
      year.

      The statement was made despite the fact that Zimbabwe is a recent
      signatory to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol
      on principles and guidelines governing democratic elections.


      Speaking in Mashonaland West province at the weekend, Jonathan Moyo,
      Minister of State for Information, said the MDC was disloyal to the
      country and showed allegiance to the United States and Britain.

      "Britain and the USA do not give disloyal opposition political parties
      access to their public media and we also will not do it here. Unless and
      until we have a loyal opposition, it will not be possible for them to
      access the public media," said Moyo.

      He added that the opposition should stop using foreign radio stations
      like the Voice of America if it hoped to access the official press.

      Brian Kagoro, chief executive of the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, a
      group of pro-democracy NGOs, told IRIN there was nothing surprising
      about Moyo's statements.

      "The SADC Protocol is just a collection of basic guidelines. The
      guidelines are just that - guidelines - and because they are not part of
      the country's enforceable laws, the ZANU-PF government can choose to
      ignore all the guidelines or implement a few of them for cosmetic
      purposes to avoid international isolation," Kagoro said.

      In reacting to Moyo's statements, MDC secretary for constitutional and
      legal affairs, David Coltart, said: "Since the protocol was signed [in
      Mauritius], there is nothing yet to show that the government of Robert
      Mugabe is committed to the SADC Protocol ... On the contrary, the
      government is ensuring every day that the election next year would not
      be free and fair."

      The MDC has pulled out of all polls until the government fully
      implements the SADC Protocol. General elections are due in March 2005.
    • Christine Chumbler
      ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17 The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22 8:06 AM
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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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