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  • Christine Chumbler
    Gender Equality Practice Low Malawi Standard (Blantyre) October 16, 2004 Posted to the web October 19, 2004 Steven Mkweteza, a Correspondent Blantyre Gender
    Message 1 of 1046 , Oct 20, 2004
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      Gender Equality Practice Low

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      October 16, 2004
      Posted to the web October 19, 2004

      Steven Mkweteza, a Correspondent
      Blantyre

      Gender Equality Support Programme (GESP) says even though the Malawi
      Constitution, the supreme law of the lands is very clear on issues of
      equality, freedom of choice and many other rights that have to be
      enjoyed by women, there is very little that has been achieved

      In an interview at the official opening of a five-day southern
      region-training workshop in gender analysis and mainstreaming policies
      and programmes for GESP partners in Blantyre recently, GESP Executive
      Director Dorothy Nyasulu said:

      "Almost 15 years after the there still is Beijing Conference, glaring
      gender under development. Women and the girl child continue to be
      marginalised."

      Nyasulu said now there is a need to concentrate on the implementation
      of the comprehensive national gender programme.

      "For the effective implementation of the national gender programme to
      address the gender gaps, developing capacity of the implementing
      stakeholder organisations is priority number one.

      "Nationwide adoption of gender mainstreaming as a strategy for
      attaining gender equality delicately hinges on capacity building in
      gender analysis, planning, budgeting, monitoring and evaluation of all
      organisations involved in national development processes," said
      Nyasulu.

      She said GESP as a project is committed to continue collaborating with
      the national machinery as well as other stakeholders in the field of
      gender.

      The workshop was organised by GESP in collaboration with the ministry
      of Gender, child welfare and community services to among other things
      train their partners; district assemblies directors of planning, and
      district community development officers [DCDOs] in gender analyses and
      mainstreaming, using gender sensitive tools for effective integration of
      gender issues in the light of decentralisation and as a step forward in
      ensuring that district development plans are gender sensitive and
      responsive.

      Of late, Malawi has participated in a number of gender related
      conferences and meetings such as the famous Beijing Conference of 1995,
      Beijing plus 5 in 2000 apart from ratifying a number of international
      treaties such as CEDAW and the convention on the rights of the child
      [CRC], which are powerful instruments for the promotion of gender
      equality and women and children's rights.

      The country also boasts of it's own national gender policy launched in
      2000 apart from being party to the SADC declaration on gender.

      GESP is a seven years gender project, designed by the Canadian
      International Development Agency [CIDA] and co-founded with the
      Department for International Development [DFID] to strengthen the
      capacity of selected government and civil society organisations to
      promote gender equality in Malawi.

      *****

      Fertizer Price May Go Up

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      October 15, 2004
      Posted to the web October 19, 2004

      Paul Kang'ombe
      Blantyre

      Fertilizer prices might go up before the commencement of this year's
      planting season should government increase the price of fuel, the Malawi
      Standard has established.

      Optichem's General Manager Barry Shott warned that the shipping costs
      would negatively affect the prices of fertilizer if the fuel prices were
      adjusted upwards.


      "If fuel prices are high, the shipping costs will also be high and the
      prices of fertilizer will go up," said Shott.

      Spot checks at fertilizer selling outlets indicate that Agora is
      selling a bag of 50 kilogrammes Urea at K2, 380 while Can is selling at
      K1, 910.

      At Farmers Word, Urea is going at K2, 780 per 50 kilogrammes bag and
      K2, 165 Can.

      Shott confessed that Optichem does not have Urea in stock. He disclosed
      that Optichem would only be manufacturing one brand of fertilizer,
      Optican.

      "We are now producing the best cheaper Optican fertilizer with 27
      percent nitrogen at only K1, 720 per 50 kilogramme bag, using Gypsum
      from Zimbabwe and local lime," the manager said.

      Shotts said his company arrived at the decision because most Malawians'
      pockets could not afford to buy fertilizer.

      He however said that his company would manufacture fertilizer for any
      company or individual who have their own raw material.

      Optichem has been hired to dry 3000 tonnes of Ammonium Sulphate,
      chemicals used in the manufacturing of fertilizer, at its plant in
      Blantyre for Farmers World.

      According to Shotts, Farmers World has an order to supply fertilizers
      for Illovo Sugar's estates in Nchalo and Dwangwa.

      Shotts also noted that the closure of Ammonium plants in America due to
      environmental demand has also impacted on the manufacturing of
      fertilizer, as it is one of the requisites in fertilizer manufacturing.

      Recently, the Ministry of Mines, Natural Resources and Environmental
      issued a statement assuring the general public that the prices of fuel
      will not be increased.

      The Ministry said that although the global price of fuel has gone up by
      55 percent since January 2004, it has no immediate plans of increasing
      fuel prices.

      However 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 go up further due to political instability on oil producing
      countries.

      Malawi Economic Justice Network (Mejn) predicted tough economic times
      ahead should the prices of petroleum on the international market
      continue to fluctuate.

      The 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 the local petroleum prices.

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

      In a related development, government has announced that it will
      distribute the free farm inputs under the Targeted Input Programme (TIP)
      to only one million people this year and that the remaining one million
      people will buy fertilizer at subsidised rate of K1, 400.

      Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Bright Msaka disclosed
      that under TIP, Urea fertilizers will be available and NPK (23:21:0+4S)
      fertilizers will be available while only Urea will go at a subsidised
      rate.

      "Each eligible household will be issued with one blue voucher which
      will entitle them to receive one free package containing 25 kilogrammes
      of fertilizer, 5 kilogrammes of maize seed and one kilogramme of regume
      seed under the subsidy," said Msaka.

      He said under the subsidy each beneficiary would be issued with one
      purple voucher, which will entitle him or her to buy one 50 kilogramme
      of Urea fertilizer at K2, 800 each.

      Most Malawians were made to believe that two million Malawians would
      benefit from the programme.

      *****

      Private Sector Engine for Economic Growth - Kazembe

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      October 16, 2004
      Posted to the web October 19, 2004

      Olipah Chirwa
      Blantyre

      The perfomance of economy of Malawi in recent years has not been
      satifactory, available statistics have indicated.

      The statistics have indicated that the country has experienced
      increased incidences of food insecurity of an increase in domestic debt,
      shrinkage manufacturing sector, an increase in unemployment and
      shrinkage in export earnings.


      A public talk organisation by Economics Association of Malawi (ECAMA)
      of which the theme was "Economic Growth Prospects" in Malawi, the trade
      and private sector development Minister Eunice Kazembe said that
      economic fundamentals for the past years have not been conducive to
      private sector development.

      "The economy has been beset by developments, which have adversely
      impacted on private sector development," said Kazembe.

      Kazembe said that government borrowing has resulted in huge domestic
      debt, which has placed a heavy burden on government resources in terms
      of debt servicing and has crowded out the private sector.

      Kazembe also mentioned of high interest and inflation rates which have
      negatively affected private sectors propensity to invest, unstable
      exchange rate which has made planning difficult for the private sector,
      weak institutional and physical infrastructure, fragmented and
      incoherent development policies and strategies and back of investment
      capital and inadequate inflows of foreign direct investment.

      "Challenge for all of us is to initiate actions, individually and
      collectively, in order to reverse these undesirable friends," said
      Kazembe

      She said that government has put in place various programmes to address
      the problems and put the country on a course to sustainable economic
      development.

      "As His Excellency the president has said, the government has an
      agenda, and is premised on four pillars which include economic
      development and social information, unity of all Malawians, justice and
      equity, and peace and security," she said

      Kazembe said that with regard to economic development and social
      information, government recognizes the pivotal role of the private
      sector in the creation of wealth for the nation.

      "This is why government has embraced private sector development as a
      core element of its economic development agenda," said Kazembe

      Kazembe further said that the thrust of government is to have a vibrant
      and adaptive private sector that is growth focused and productivity
      oriented and capable of competing regionally and globally.

      She however said that the government is committed to ensuring that
      macro-economic fundamentals are conducive to the development of private
      sector.

      Kazembe also said that the ministry of trade and private sector
      development has drawn up a number of interventions in support of private
      sector developments.

      The interventions include, re-organizing and strengthening support
      institutions such as the Malawi Investment Promotion Agency (MIPA) MEPC,
      SEDOM, DEMAT, MIRTDC and MBS; Strengthening the policy and regulatory
      environment by developing new policies and legislation on counterfeit
      and consumer protection and safeguard of local industries from unfair
      competition; strengthening export capacity by developing sectoral
      development strategies, intensifying bilateral, regional and
      multilateral trade and investment promotion; strengthening Malawi's
      trade and investments representation in key markets such as in South
      Africa, United States of America, Brussels, Asia and Geneva among
      others.

      She however also mentioned about strengthening public and private
      sector partnership through institutions like the National Action Group,
      Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Trade policy
      Nation Working Group, business and professional Associations like ECAMA
      and also strengthening cooperation and working relationship with
      international development partners; strengthening promotion and
      publicity through news letter, electronic media and website;
      strengthening implementation of business development initiatives such as
      cooperative development, SME's development, one village one product and
      intergrated Rural Development programme which is being developed; and
      supporting empowerment programmes through negotiation of contracts for
      cooperatives and SME's and promoting joint ventures.

      Kazembe however confirmed of the government determination to develop
      this country and that sector should play its part to complement
      government efforts.

      "It is said that 'a nation's standard of living is determined by its
      productivity: I therefore, wish to call upon the private sector to
      dedicate their efforts towards increasing productivity and
      competitiveness in order to create the much-needed wealth for the
      citizens of Malawi," she said.

      She also said that productivity and competitiveness are increasingly
      becoming key to participation in the global market and that is therefore
      incumbent upon the private sector to be proactive as opposed to being
      reactive to developments on the market.

      *****

      Bingu's Farm in Trouble

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      October 16, 2004
      Posted to the web October 19, 2004

      Paul Kang'ombe
      Blantyre

      While Malawian's new president, Bingu Wa Mutharika has won
      International favour for spearheading good governance ideals to make the
      country a better place to live, a report from Zimbabwe government on the
      condition of workers at his farm there, has attracted the attention of
      farmers Union.

      Information from Harare indicates that the General Agricultural and
      Plantation Workers Union of Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ) is irked with the way
      management of Bineth Farm in Zimbabwe, which is owned by President Bingu
      WA Mutharika is treating its workers.

      "Management has been called to answer why its workers are living in
      health hazard conditions," says the Harare report featured on the
      Internet.

      However Presidential Spokesperson Prescott Gonani confirmed that
      president Mutharika owns the farm and actually visited the workers when
      he was there recently. He said there could be an element of exaggeration
      on the actual conditions on the ground.

      "The problem is that when one is a president, people tend to exaggerate
      issues and tend to blow such developments beyond proportion," said
      Gonani who preferred a written questionnaire on the issue.

      The GAPWUZS team established that workers at Bineth Farm, which is
      situated in Kadoma, are living in poor mud houses with broken roofs when
      they visited the farm on September 16, 2004.

      As a result, the farm management has been summoned to the union's
      headquarters in Harare to answer why its workers are living under such
      squalid conditions.

      According to a report by a team from the GAPWUZ, the farm compound has
      no electricity and has poor water supplies, which exposes workers to
      diseases such as cholera, dysentery and malaria.

      "The GAPWUZ team established that workers at Bineth Farm are living in
      mud houses with broken roofs," reads part of the report,

      In July, Bineth Farm 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 who came to officiate the
      Zimbabwe Agricultural Show.

      Bingu is said to have taken out time to visit where he feted Malawians
      living in the mining settlements of Kadoma and Patchway.

      The deputy secretary general of GAPWUZ, Gift Muti, told the press that
      some of the findings made by the team from the union included low wages
      .

      "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.

      *****

      Parliament Staff Desperate for Shelter

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      October 16, 2004
      Posted to the web October 19, 2004

      Akimu Kaingana
      Blantyre

      Parliament staff who were housed at New State House and were ordered to
      vacate the premises to pave way for presidential staff are desperately
      finding it tough to find new accommodation in the capital city's
      townships, Malawi Standard has learnt.

      A source from Parliament's new office in Chief Mbelwa's house in the
      City Centre said in a telephone interview that the situation is pathetic
      as not everyone has found accommodation hence affecting their working
      morale.

      "Many of us are scouting for houses in Chilinde, Kawale and other areas
      but it is difficult to find accommodation especially those with large
      families.

      "Some have not moved from New State House and have been given a
      deadline of Friday to move out and this has affected us so much," said
      the source.

      President Bingu wa Mutharika announced his intention two months ago to
      occupy the New State House which has been the home of parliament for the
      past 10 years.

      He said Lilongwe State Lodge where the president is currently staying
      is too small for state functions.

      Initially the president wanted parliament to move to Kamuzu Institute
      of Sports in the squatter township of Kawale but the proposal was shot
      down.

      Critics said the place was not ideal for an August House as the
      security for members of Parliament was not guaranteed there.

      Others said, by turning Kamuzu Institute for Sports into parliament, it
      was a sure way of killing sports in the country as the institute was
      meant for the youth and development.

      Meanwhile all parliamentary offices have been relocated in Chief
      Mbelwa's house where government is renting. It is yet not known how much
      it will cost government for the rentals.

      Presidential Press Officer Prescot Gonani said from his Lilongwe office
      that state house personnel were anxiously waiting to occupy houses at
      the New State House.

      "As soon as maintenance is through, we will move in. The president will
      occupy New State House possibly before the end of the year.

      *****

      People With Disabilities Need Emotional Support Than Money

      Malawi Standard (Blantyre)

      October 16, 2004
      Posted to the web October 19, 2004

      Paul Kang'ombe
      Blantyre

      Research finding by the Federation of the disability Organisation in
      Malawi (Fedoma) with support from the International organisations on the
      living condition of people with disabilities has concluded that most
      disabled persons need emotional support than money.

      A total of 1521 households with at least one disabled family member and
      1537 households without disabled members were sampled in 157 enumeration
      areas.

      An assessment of various forms of assistance that may be needed by
      individuals with disabilities in performing daily life activities showed
      that a large majority of respondents claimed to need emotional support,
      surpassing all other types of assistance required. Economic support, or
      assistance with finances, was the second most often mentioned form of
      assistance needed. It is interesting to note that, within the family,
      the role of the individual with a disability does not appear to be much
      affected by their disability status.

      The report entitled 'Living Conditions among People with Activity
      Limitations in Malawi. A National Representative Study' says that it was
      found that need for emotional support surpassed economic support when
      people with disability were asked for what type of assistance that was
      needed in their daily life.

      "This finding replicates the results from the two previous studies.
      This is important to bear in mind when developing services for people
      with disabilities, as emotional needs will more readily be neglected
      when there is so much to do in terms of practical help. Developing
      mental health support programs at the local community level is very
      relevant in this regard," the report reads in part.

      According to the report, this is not the first survey of its kind to be
      conducted in Southern Africa, studies such as those that have been
      carried out in Namibia, Zimbabwe and now in Malawi.

      "These studies are very important as they provide a more precise
      indication of the true living conditions of people with disabilities
      than has previously been available. Furthermore, the survey in Malawi,
      together with the earlier Awareness Building Campaign, has aided in
      sensitising society to the plight of people with disabilities and the
      importance of their inclusion in all developmental activities," says the
      report.

      People with disabilities have played an active role in all aspects of
      this study. While the Centre for Social Research (CSR) at the University
      of Malawi had accepted the responsibility for overseeing all research
      aspects of the study, FEDOMA had maintained responsibility for project
      management at the local level. People with disabilities have been equal
      partners in the design process, in data collection and supervision, and
      in the field have proven to be as capable as their non-disabled
      counterparts. This is a very positive development.

      The study observed that it is common knowledge that people with
      disabilities in the SADC Region and indeed in the whole of Africa are
      experiencing problems and difficulties in carrying out their daily
      activities and in their ability to fully participate in society. People
      with disabilities experience barriers that may be physical, in the form
      of reduced accessibility to local services (including schools, hospitals
      and the workplace), and may be social, in the form of discrimination and
      negative attitudes in society at large. These are problems that can be
      avoided, or at least reduced, if the development policies of
      governments, Donor Organisations and Development Agencies were targeted
      towards inclusion and addressing the specific needs of people with
      disabilities in society.

      It also noted that lack of clear data in form of statistics on actual
      situation of persons with disabilities in our respective countries.

      "When the data is collected, emphasis must be placed on utilising the
      results of research to not only raise awareness but also to catalyse, to
      urge all those who have something to do with disability including
      governments and other relevant institutions to commit themselves, to
      advocate towards bringing about changes in issues that affect the lives
      of people with disabilities in Malawi and indeed in the whole of the
      Southern Africa Region," the report requests.

      The study on living conditions among people with disabilities in Malawi
      is the result of an international co-operation between Southern Africa
      Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD), Federation of Disability
      Organisations in Malawi (FEDOMA), Norwegian Federation of Organisations
      of Disabled People (FFO), University of Malawi (Centre for Social
      Research), and SINTEF Health Research. The study has been funded by the
      Atlas Alliance on behalf of Norwegian Agency for Development
      Co-operation (NORAD). In addition to the study itself, a capacity
      building component has been an important part of the collaboration.

      [continued at http://allafrica.com/stories/200410190301.html%5d
    • 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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