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  • Christine Chumbler
    MEJN Predicts Hard Times Malawi Standard (Blantyre) October 8, 2004 Posted to the web October 11, 2004 Paul Kang ombe Blantyre The Malawi Economic Justice
    Message 1 of 1046 , Oct 12, 2004
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      MEJN Predicts Hard Times

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      October 8, 2004
      Posted to the web October 11, 2004

      Paul Kang'ombe
      Blantyre

      The Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN) has predicted tough economic
      times ahead should the prices of oil on the international market
      continue to fluctuate.

      Network's executive director, Collins Magalasi ,said that the
      fluctuating petroleum prices would negatively affect the country's
      already ailing economy.


      Magalasi said that the prices of petroleum on the international market
      would also affect local petroleum prices.

      "If the prices of petroleum on the international market go up,
      government is also likely to increase the prices of fuel in the
      country," Magalasi observed, "Prices of commodities and inflation will
      automatically go up."

      In a related development the Ministry of Mines, Natural Resources and
      Environmental Affairs has assured the general public in a press release
      that the prices of fuel will not be increased.

      The Ministry said that the global price of fuel has gone up by 55
      percent since January 2004.

      "Government has no immediate plans of increasing fuel prices," reads
      the statement in part.

      Last month the Petroleum Pricing Committee (PPC) recommended to the
      government to increase the price of fuel especially petrol from K 94.00
      per litre to K105.

      Crude oil is currently selling at K5, 559 ($ 51) per barrel but it is
      likely to up further due to political instability in oil producing
      countries.

      One of the largest fuel suppliers in the country, BP Malawi Limited has
      disclosed that the increased demand for unleaded fuel has put pressure
      on the availability of aviation fuel because of high transportation
      costs.

      According to a press release signed by the company's corporate affairs
      Manager Alice Konyani, BP says it can no longer source supplies of
      aviation gasoline (Avgas) within Africa and it will instead be importing
      from overseas.

      The decision by BP is likely to affect the operations of the aviation
      industry because avgas is mostly used in light aircraft.

      "This decision by the refinery is in the best interest of the general
      environment and health of all of us; it is unfortunate, however, from
      the point of view of consumers," reads the statement in part.

      But a source at Air Malawi said that the move by BP is just a gimmick
      to increase the price.

      "They just want to use that as an excuse to increase the price of fuel.
      Why should they import from outside Africa, that does not make sense,"
      he explained.

      *****

      Lock Them Up, Throw Away Keys - Bingu

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      October 8, 2004
      Posted to the web October 11, 2004

      Akimu Kaingana
      Blantyre

      President Bingu Wa Mutharika's repeated warnings that he will lock up
      anybody found guilty of corruption and throw away the keys so that
      culprits rot in jail, has triggered a protracted debate among members of
      the clergy and human rights activists.

      A large section of the clergy and human rights activists feel strongly
      that Bingu has gone too far and must slow down, as he was creating
      unnecessary tension in the country, which may torpedo his development
      efforts, while another section justifies the, president's behavior
      saying, the people who plundered the economy of this country in
      corruption deals during the reign of President Bakili Muluzi, committed
      serious crimes against humanity.

      Reverend Billy Gama of CCAP Blantyre synod told the press this week
      that, he, together with fellow clergymen, told president Mutharika in a
      closed meeting that while corruption was evil, they were concerned that
      the fight against corruption should be based on enough facts and
      information.

      He said the clergy were aware that some people are going to the
      president to force him into arresting some people to square off personal
      differences.

      "I don't want to mention names but some people are being victimized. As
      such we warned the president to watch out so that he does not violate
      other peoples' rights. But it seems the president did not receive the
      message well," said Reverend Gama who was among a few members of the
      clergy who fought against the UDF in the run - up to the May 20 General
      elections.

      He said the clergy feared that the president might turn this country
      into a police state and bring repression. This would take us back to the
      one party dictatorship.

      But the president is reported to have told members of the clergy
      present at the meeting that they had been sent by some politicians and
      could not accept their plea.

      The clergy are said to have suggested to the president that a
      commission be created to hear and decide on corruption cases and people
      hand over themselves voluntarily so that arrests should not be perceived
      to be political witch hunts and political persecution of enemies or
      persons known to be vocal against the president.

      At the press conference, by President Mutharika sternly warned those
      who were involved in corruption during the Muluzi days that they will be
      arrested and the law will have no mercy on them as they will rot in
      prison.

      Since assuming office on May 20, Mutharika embarked on an
      anti-corruption drive which has culminated into arrests of several UDF
      top officials who served in Muluzi's government.

      In a separate interview Monday this week, the General Secretary of
      Malawi Churches Council of Malawi Canaan Phiri said in a telephone
      interview from Zomba that the law should take its course.

      He said the Church was aligned with the opposition prior to the May 20
      General elections to see to it that people abide by the law.

      "It's only those who have broken the law who fear, otherwise there can
      never be tension for someone who did not do anything wrong. The church
      wants a just society," said Reverend Phiri.

      Public Affairs Committee (PAC) Chairman, Boniface Tamani, said in a
      separate interview that he was surprised to hear that some sections of
      the clergy are saying Bingu should slow down on arrests because he was
      not consulted.

      "PAC is happy with what president Mutharika is doing because we cannot
      support people who had been robbing Malawians. It's a mistake to say the
      clergy want Bingu to slow down on arrests. It could be one or two people
      who made such remarks to the President," said Tamani in a telephone
      interview Commentators just hope that Malawi would not go back to Dr.
      Kamuzu Banda's era where arrests and fear where the orderof the day .

      Almost on a daily basis, newspapers are awash with front page stories
      of who next is being pursued by the Director of Public Prosecutions
      Ishmael Wadi and it have become a general talk in buses, markets, bars
      and offices.

      In a separate interview, a human rights activist Moses Mkandawire from
      Mzuzu said corruption is bad as it retards development hence the people
      who are involved should face law.

      However, it should not be seen to be political witch hunt as this may
      create something like a police state which is not good for Malawi.

      Mkandawire said the state must have conrete evidence before arresting
      people on corruption charges since any person is presumed innocent until
      trial.

      *****

      Amitofo Care Centre Ready in November

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      October 8, 2004
      Posted to the web October 11, 2004

      Our Reporter
      Blantyre

      First phase of the multi Million Kwacha Amitofo Orphan Care Centre will
      be completed next month, November 2004, the Taiwanese Press Counsellor
      said in a press statement.

      The orphanage currently under construction is situated at Mapanga in
      Blantyre and when completed it will house 120 orphans.

      "The orphanage, which will cover an area of 34.8 hectares will have
      children's hostels, a home for HIV patients, a technical school and a
      clinic," reads the statement in part.

      The Taiwan based Non-governmental organisation (NGO), Amitofo Care
      Centre that looks after the underprivileged established the centre as
      one way of addressing the problem of orphans rocking the country.

      Taiwan that will celebrate 93 years of sovereignty on Friday October 8,
      2004 has been Malawi's development partner since 1965.

      The Islands is involved in agriculture, seed multiplication project,
      health sector, education like teaching technical college students in
      modern technology among others.

      *****

      Police Guarding Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      October 8, 2004
      Posted to the web October 11, 2004

      Harry Mangulenje
      Blantyre

      Criminal Police have started guarding Queen Elizabeth Central hospital
      amid press reports that the referral hospital harbours criminals
      masquerading as patients.

      The permanent campus unit has been established regardless of the fact
      that Queens is surrounded by three Police stations in the likes of
      Southern Region police headquarters near Polytechnic, Soche and Blantyre
      Police stations.

      Police deputy Public Relations Officer Assistant Commissioner Kelvin
      Maigwa confirmed the development in an interview from Lilongwe.

      He said this has been the case upon realizing the need to have the
      campus, which he described as a public place.

      "Many criminal acts may have been taking place at the campus and they
      go unnoticed," he said.

      "It is the wish of Police to get closer to the people as possible, so
      the Queens unit is just one of the units established in the cities,
      otherwise you may have observed that we are all over the place now," he
      said.

      Recent press reports revealed that the hospital premises have turned
      into a breeding ground for criminals who pose as patients guardians.

      Hospital administrator Matthews Mataka said in an interview that
      security men alone are not enough at a wide campus like Queen Elizabeth
      Central Hospital.

      "There haven't been recorded incidences of crimes like theft,
      intimidation, but I am sure they take place unreported, so we have
      welcomed the presence of Police here," he said.

      "In fact it has been long overdue, we expected the unit some time
      back," he said.

      Police Spokesperson Maigwa said the first hospital to receive a Police
      Unit was Lilongwe now Kamuzu Central hospital.

      Last month six Police officers were arrested at Queen Elizabeth for
      beating up a medical officer on duty and are still answering unlawful
      wounding charges at Blantyre magistrate's court.

      *****

      Trade Within the Region - Zambia

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      October 8, 2004
      Posted to the web October 11, 2004

      Lucius Phaiya
      Blantyre

      The Export Board of Zambia (EBZ) has called on Malawians business
      people to shift their focus on from exporting their products to Western
      markets to fellow developing countries in COMESA or SADC as this will
      ensure a constistent and rewarding market.

      In an interview, EBZ Chairperson, Miriam Nkunika, made the plea with
      reference to her country's experience over the past nine years during
      which they noticed that competition on the global market is stiff, while
      that among developing countries is favourable, resulting in more returns
      gained from internal trade than external trade.

      "Our observation was that global trade in both goods and services has
      been growing, but that between developing countries remains very low.
      This lowers prices on the global market, leaving a better alternative on
      neighbourhood and community markets, whose prices and returns remain
      constant," Nkunika said.

      She said that although western markets are more lucrative, bilateral
      markets like COMESA were offering sustainable demands to products like
      tea, tobacco, copper and textiles, which faced dangers of rejection and
      poor inconsistent prices at the global market; conditions that have
      distorted Gross Domestic Products [GDPs] of many developing countries.

      "In Zambia for example, because the market was less competitive, food,
      beverages, textiles and leather products, chemicals and pharmaceuticals
      and rubber sold to regional markets accounted for 11% of overall GDP in
      2002 and a growth of 6.3% in 2003, when Zambia hardly recognized such
      returns from dwindling global markets," Nkunika said.

      She called on Malawi to open up it's trade to the regional market,
      especially Zambia in particular, so as to benefit from the ready
      exchange that is potential in the region's trade network.

      Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry [MCCCI], who
      facilitated an integration forum of business industries of the two
      countries in Blantyre, commended Zambia for her persistent success on
      the global market, which is constantly faced with stiff competition
      resulting from an overflow of quality products from all over the world.

      MCCCI President Martin Kansichi said that business between Malawi and
      Zambia has to improve because being neighbours, expenses across them is
      cheap, to the advantage of any business in the two countries.

      "We have a lot to learn from the success story of Zambia. Zambia sells
      flowers to UK, a project we began but failed, so, gatherings of this
      kind will enable us to share practical business tactics.

      "We also need to condone the fact that unrecorded cross-boarder trade
      with Zambia is undertaken, but on a smaller scale and without proper
      regulation. We have to boost such businesses because they incur less
      expenses due to the small distance travelled," said Kansichi.

      Kansichi said that there is a will for business people in the two
      countries to work together and interact extensively to create more
      linkages for growth of their businesses and asked government to assist
      their communication.

      With a population of a little above 10 million, Zambia, like Malawi, is
      a landlocked country that relies mainly on agriculture and partly on
      copper exports.


      *****

      Mozambique limits election observers' access

      Maputo, Mozambique

      12 October 2004 11:34

      Mozambique's National Elections Commission has announced it will not
      give observers access to all stages of the vote counting in December's
      presidential and parliamentary elections.

      Commission spokesperson Filipe Mandlate said on Monday that observers
      will not be allowed into the rooms where the vote tabulation is carried
      out.

      He said observers and journalists will be able watch the first stage of
      the count at the polling stations, but not at provincial election
      commission centres where the results will be tabulated.

      Mandlate said the decision has prompted an angry objection from the
      European Union, which plans to send one of the largest observer missions
      to the election and which gives the country about half the money needed
      to hold the election.

      He said the decision, opposed by opposition politicians on the
      commission, follows national law that prohibits observers in the final
      stages of the count.

      The EU delegation, he said, has said sent a protest note containing
      "indelicate language" and suggesting if observers cannot see the entire
      process, then the EU may decide not to monitor the elections. He refused
      to release the message or be more specific about the wording.

      The EU delegation in Maputo declined to comment on the report.

      "The last position that the commission took was to suggest that the EU
      accept our proposal and leave for another occasion negotiations with the
      Mozambique Parliament to change the law," said Mandlate. -- Sapa-AP

      *****

      Zimbabwe 'to curb' rights groups

      Zimbabwe's government is tightening restrictions on human rights groups
      operating in the country, reports say.
      French news agency AFP says it has seen an official amendment to a bill
      tabled in parliament earlier this week.

      The bill bans international rights groups from working in Zimbabwe and
      cuts foreign funding to local groups dealing with "governance issues".

      Groups involved in educating the public on anti-corruption issues,
      transparency and accountability are also targeted.


      The amendment proposed by Zimbabwe's social welfare ministry also means
      that groups involved in aiding the interests or activities of a
      political party will also be targeted, according to the AFP.

      The Non-Governmental Organisations Bill previously had not spelled out
      what activities would be included under the definition of "issues of
      governance".

      There are fears that hundreds of aid groups will be forced to shut down
      if the bill becomes law.

      Correspondents say up to 10,000 jobs could be lost as the result.

      The proposed bill has provoked widespread condemnation, the AFP said.

      *****

      All is well in Zim, according to Robert Mugabe

      Maputo, Mozambique

      12 October 2004 07:58

      Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe wrapped up a three-day state visit to
      Mozambique on Wednesday by playing down the economic and social turmoil
      in his country.

      Speaking at Maputo airport before heading home to Harare, Mugabe told
      journalists the meeting with Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano was
      very fruitful and the two had discussed the state of his own country.

      "Political tension in Zimbabwe is easing, the economy is growing,"
      Mugabe insisted, although inflation in Zimbabwe is running at more than
      300%, and the United Nations has estimated this year's harvest will meet
      only half the country's needs.

      Mugabe and Chissano talked on Saturday on areas of cooperation
      including transportation and joint ventures in tourism. The two nations
      have had close relations since the early 1970s, when Marxist rebels in
      Mozambique provided shelter for guerrillas fighting the white-dominated
      government of Zimbabwe, then called Rhodesia.

      On Sunday Mugabe said his country was overcoming its political and
      economic crisis.

      "We are now, day by day, regaining a noteworthy political and economic
      stability", he told journalists in Maputo.

      He repeated his earlier contention that the country has enough food to
      feed its people.

      Mugabe's often-violent land reform programme, combined with erratic
      rains, have left his country without enough to eat and isolated the
      longtime president internationally.

      Mugabe said on Sunday he was visiting Mozambique to pay homage to
      Chissano, before Chissano leaves office at the end of the year.

      He said Zimbabwe is also preparing a major agro-industrial trade fair
      "that will show how far the country is emerging from the economic crisis
      that it experienced in recent years".

      Mugabe said HIV/Aids remains one of the main causes of death in
      Zimbabwe, but "we are doing all in our power to reduce the spread, while
      at the same lessening the suffering and tragedy of those already
      infected".

      "We are even, with the help of India, producing anti-retrovirals in the
      country, although not in great quantities. We have a factory that we
      built with Indian aid, and our idea is to expand it."

      Mugabe said he regards Mozambique as his "second homeland".

      He lived in the central city of Quelimane, and later in Maputo, during
      the 1970s, and it was from Maputo that he directed the struggle of the
      Zimbabwe African National Union against the white minority regime of
      Rhodesia's leader Ian Smith before independence in 1980.

      Mugabe has been ruler ever since. - Sapa-AP

      *****

      Zanzibar to raise its flag again


      Zanzibar is to fly its own flag for the first time in 40 years since
      uniting with Tanganyika to form Tanzania in 1964.
      The adoption of the flag was approved unanimously by the archipelago's
      parliament on Monday.

      The new design is dark and light blue, green, black and gold, with the
      Tanzanian flag shown in a corner.

      The government has stressed that the adoption of a flag does not mean
      that this is a move towards independence.

      "The flag is just a step to conform with the constitution of Zanzibar,
      which empowers the installation of symbols of the government," said
      Zanzibar Attorney General Idd Pandu Hassan.

      Independence

      The flag will be raised on the archipelago as soon as Zanzibar
      President Amani Abeid Karume signs it into law.

      But Mr Hassan says it will not be flown at international forums such as
      the United Nations or African Union as Zanzibar is not a sovereign
      nation, Tanzania's Guardian newspapers reports.

      Although the opposition Civic United Front (CUF), some of whose members
      want independence from mainland Tanzania, voted in favour of the new
      flag, they were not entirely happy about the new design.

      "It is just unacceptable to have the flag of Tanzania inside the flag
      of Zanzibar," CUF leader Abubakar Khamis Bakar said during the three-day
      parliamentary debate.

      Under the 1964 act of union, Zanzibar was allowed to remain
      semi-autonomous and to have its own president while benefiting from
      economic and political clout of the mainland.

      But some critics feel that the islanders do not benefit from their
      contribution to Tanzania's tourism revenue.
    • 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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