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  • Christine Chumbler
    Politics-Malawi:Corruption-Busting President Tries to Forge New Party Inter Press Service (Johannesburg) February 27, 2005 Posted to the web February 28, 2005
    Message 1 of 1046 , Feb 28, 2005
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      Politics-Malawi:Corruption-Busting President Tries to Forge New Party

      Inter Press Service (Johannesburg)

      February 27, 2005
      Posted to the web February 28, 2005

      Frank Phiri
      Blantyre

      Will they or won't they? This question is on the lips of political
      observers in Malawi at present, as they wait to see whether substantial
      numbers of ruling coalition or opposition members will support the
      country's newest political grouping: the Democratic Progressive Party.

      At stake is the future of party founder, President Bingu wa Mutharika,
      who resigned from the United Democratic Front (UDF) earlier this month.
      The UDF, which only controls 49 of 193 parliamentary seats after last
      year's general and by-elections, rules Malawi with support from other
      political parties and independent legislators.

      Mutharika's departure came amidst increasing animosity between the
      president and Bakili Muluzi - former head of state and current UDF
      chairman - over an anti-corruption drive that has seen ten former
      cabinet ministers implicated in graft cases.

      With suspicions having been voiced about certain aspects of Muluzi's
      conduct whilst he was in office, many wondered whether the probe might
      not ultimately encompass the former leader as well. Muluzi is under
      scrutiny for accumulating what appears to be disproportionate wealth
      during his presidency.

      In recent weeks, Mutharika has also arrested, then pardoned, several
      UDF officials whom he accused of planning to assassinate him. Now, the
      president faces the prospect of trying to push bills through parliament
      in the absence of any real legislative support should efforts to
      establish the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) fail.

      In the immediate aftermath of Mutharika's resignation, it was reported
      that the cabinet had thrown its support behind him. Of late, newspapers
      and radio stations have also made frequent announcements of resignations
      by UDF members at different levels - executive regional and district.

      But, acting UDF spokesman Sam Mpasu does his best to throw cold water
      on these reports.

      "Those that have resigned from the executive are just a minority. This
      has not had any ripple effect on the UDF grassroots members," he told
      IPS, adding - for effect: "You can count the defectors by fingers. They
      are not many."

      Nonetheless, he refused to provide figures to bolster his argument.

      The DPP is equally reticent. DPP member Uladi Mussa, a former UDF
      governor for Malawi's central region, told IPS that negotiations to get
      the support of UDF members were ongoing - but that figures on how many
      might provide it were not conclusive at this stage.

      The picture becomes a little clearer as concerns parliamentarians
      outside the UDF camp.

      The Republican Party, which had formerly been in partnership with the
      UDF, says its 15 legislators are willing to form a coalition with the
      DPP.

      According to Mussa, the Progressive People's Movement, the Movement for
      Genuine Democracy and the Malawi Foundation for the Union of Democracy
      are also being consulted - but no decisions have been made on their
      relationship with the DPP.

      Of 50 independent legislators, 23 have come out in favour of
      Mutharika's new group. "We like his principles, so we're going to work
      with his party," Gift Mamondwe, the chief whip for the independent
      legislators, told IPS.

      As debate over future membership and coalition partners for the DPP
      continues, a parallel discussion is underway over whether Mutharika's
      split from the UDF will really further his anti-graft crusade.

      "We decided to leave the UDF so that we could fight corruption without
      fear and favour," Mussa told IPS.

      But Collins Magalasi of the Malawi Economic Justice Network, a
      non-governmental group which monitors governance, says a new party was
      not essential in this regard.

      "He (Mutharika) does not need a political base to deal with corrupt UDF
      officials. It's the law, and the institutions set to enforce such laws,
      which can do that - not a party," he notes.

      The UDF and a number of civil society groups have also queried
      Mutharika's source of funding for the DPP, with UDF officials alleging
      that the new party may be planning to misappropriate government funds.
      The presidency denies the charge.

      Ironically, Mutharika was hand-picked by Muluzi as a successor - and
      initially viewed as being little more than a puppet who would allow
      Muluzi continued rule from behind the scenes. Before leaving office, the
      former president had tried to get parliament to amend the constitution
      to allow him to stand for a third term in office.

      However, Mutharika's conduct since becoming president has proved
      anything but predictable. The DPP is scheduled to be registered on Feb.
      28.


      *****

      Five Malawi Chiefs in for Ngonis' N'cwala

      The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

      February 26, 2005
      Posted to the web February 28, 2005

      Muwali Musampula


      FIVE chiefs from Malawi have arrived in Chipata to attend today's
      N'cwala ceremony of the Ngoni people.

      N'cwala ceremony national fund raising committee secretary general Adam
      Chongwe said this yesterday.

      Mr Chongwe said everything had been put in place in readiness for the
      big event.

      Mr Chongwe said all the Ngoni chiefs had arrived at Mutenguleni, venue
      of the ceremony.

      He said this year's ceremony would have a variety of dancers, including
      young warrior dancers from senior chief Nzamane's area.

      "We will have a variety of dancers because of our friends from Malawi,
      the Sakala brothers from Lusaka will also add flavour to the ceremony,"
      he said.

      Meanwhile, the N'cwala national executive committee has appealed to
      well-wishers to help construct a permanent shelter at Mutenguleni.

      He said the existing one was made of pole and grass and was now old.

      "Things are changing so we would also like to change just like our
      visitors expect to see changes.

      So we are appealing to well-wishers to help us construct a permanent
      shelter," Mr Chongwe said.


      *****

      Zim media laws claim another independent newspaper

      Harare, Zimbabwe

      27 February 2005 09:55

      An recently established independent paper in Zimbabwe, the Weekly
      Times, has been shut down for allegedly violating the country's tough
      media laws, its owner, Godfrey Ncube, said on Saturday.

      The paper, the fourth to be closed in the Southern African country
      since the enactment of the media laws in 2002, was shut down after
      publishing just eight editions, and just a month ahead of crunch
      national elections.

      "We got a letter yesterday [Friday] from the Media and Information
      Commission [MIC] saying our licence has been cancelled for one year,"
      Ncube said in a telephone interview from the second-largest city of
      Bulawayo.

      The Bulawayo-based weekly first hit the newsstands on January 2 this
      year.

      The MIC chairperson, Tafataona Mahoso, in comments published by the
      state-run Herald, said the paper had been closed for misrepresentation
      of and failure to disclose certain facts it pledged when the
      registration licence was issued in September last year.

      Mahoso said the publisher had promised to focus his editorial content
      on "developmental journalism" and social issues.

      "The commission regrets to report that all this was a hoax," said
      Mahoso, alleging that the paper had turned out to be preoccupied with
      sensational and partisan political advocacy.

      "It therefore announces, unfortunately, the cancellation for one year
      of the publishing licence for Mthwakazi Publishing House, publishers of
      the Weekly Times," he said.

      "Media services are required to stick to the types of publications they
      register because it is illegal for them to pick up someone else's
      unregistered objects and projects for whatever reward," Mahoso said.

      Ncube, who plans to challenge the closure in court, said he believes
      the paper was closed down for political reasons.

      "There is no basis for closing us down. We feel it's a political move;
      it's got nothing to do with the law," said Ncube, alleging he had been
      accused of close ties to opposition Movement for Democratic Change
      leader Welshman Ncube and an outspoken critic of Mugabe, Roman Catholic
      Archbishop Pius Ncube.

      He said his paper has also been falsely accused of being linked to an
      anti-government website bearing a similar name to his publishing house.

      Under Zimbabwe's media laws, drafted by the former Information minister
      Jonathan Moyo, whom Mugabe sacked a week ago, three other newspapers
      were closed down for various offences.

      The Daily News and its sister paper, The Daily News on Sunday, were
      forcibly closed in September 2003, while the weekly Tribune was shut
      down in June last year.

      Scores of journalists have been arrested under the same laws. --
      Sapa-AFP

      *****


      Last-ditch battle for white Zim farmers

      Fanuel Jongwe | Harare, Zimbabwe



      28 February 2005 11:11

      Five years after Zimbabwe launched a controversial land-grab programme
      to redress colonial imbalances, thousands of white farmers have mounted
      a last-ditch battle to fight a state bid to have them legally endorsed.

      "We are fighting an attempt to legitimise an illegal process," said
      Mike Clark, an official of the Commercial Farmers' Union.

      "The government wants the court to confirm the land seizures as legal
      but we will fight. Even if we don't get justice now, it will be recorded
      in history and we will pursue the matter when we have an independent
      judiciary," said Clark.

      Zimbabwe's administrative court is currently sifting through more than
      5 000 land cases, which it started hearing last month.

      President Robert Mugabe's government embarked on its
      land-redistribution programme in February 2000, compulsorily taking away
      prime farmland owned by about 4 500 white farmers to give it to the
      landless black majority.

      Before the land invasions, about 70% of the most fertile and in the
      country was owned by white farmers who were mainly descendants of
      British settlers.

      The white commercial farmers mostly grew tobacco, the Southern African
      country's main cash crop, and had not been targeted by the government of
      Mugabe, who took over the reins of the country after leading it to
      independence from Britain in 1980.

      But on February 12 and 13 2000, a proposed constitutional amendment to
      beef up the powers of the president to allow him to expropriate land was
      shot down in a referendum.

      However, about two weeks later, the head of state -- smarting under the
      first big setback in his post-independence career -- let his supporters,
      led by veterans of the independence war, attack and take over
      white-owned farms.

      About 10 farmers died in the initial stages and their black workers
      were chased out of the properties after being branded as their slaves.

      This sparked an exodus with white farmers leaving for nearby Zambia and
      Mozambique, and a handful even going to faraway Nigeria to rebuild their
      lives.

      The policy has been partly blamed for the collapse of Zimbabwe's
      once-model economy and it is now a far cry from its heyday, when it was
      referred to as the bread-basket of the region.

      The new beneficiaries often do not know the rudiments of farming and
      critics allege that prime farmland has been expropriated by Mugabe's
      cronies and ruling-party bigwigs.

      The Zimbabwean government plans to clear 5 089 cases pending at the
      courts by the end of this year, according to the head of its civil
      division, Loyce Matanda-Moyo.

      A lawyer representing 60 farmers in the protracted land saga said the
      future of the evicted farmers hinges on the judgements of the ongoing
      cases.

      "In terms of the law, the government cannot acquire the land without
      confirmation from the administrative court, so they [the government] are
      now making frantic efforts to get the confirmations ahead of the
      election," lawyer Rodney Makausi said, referring to upcoming legislative
      polls on March 31.

      "If the court confirms the [farm] acquisitions, the farmers lose their
      right to return to their properties."

      Zimbabwe evicted about 4 000 white commercial farmers, which set off a
      flurry of legal battles, some of which are still continuing.

      "Some of us have got court orders to say we can continue farming but
      the government has disregarded those court orders," said Clark. "We have
      done nothing wrong but we are all being punished for the actions of a
      few individuals who got involved in politics."

      Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party has accused white commercial farmers of
      bankrolling the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, which has
      posed the stiffest challenge to Mugabe's 25-year stranglehold on power.

      Critics of the land reforms blame the policy for Zimbabwe's compromised
      food-security situation, arguing that the majority of the "new farmers"
      lack experience and rely on government handouts to farm.

      Of about 4 500 large-scale commercial white farmers operating in
      Zimbabwe five years ago, there are about 600 now, who own 3% of the
      country's land. -- Sapa-AFP

      *****

      Mugabe hits the hustings

      Godwin Gandu | Harare, Zimbabwe



      25 February 2005 11:59


      A party supporters at the recent launch of the election campaign for
      the Movement for Democratic Change in Masvingo, Zimbabwe. (AP)
      Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is expected to spend the next six
      weeks on the campaign trail, mending fences with disgruntled provinces
      whose popular chairpersons have been suspended for attending the
      controversial Tsholotsho meeting to drum up support for Emmerson
      Mnangagwa's failed bid for the party vice-presidency.

      But party sources said his pleas "could fall on deaf ears" and
      "nothing short of lifting the suspensions will get cadres to
      campaign for the party".

      Zanu-PF director of elections William Nhara was, however, adamant that
      "differences won't affect the campaign", saying that winning the
      Matebeleland provinces was a top priority.

      University of Zimbabwe political analyst Alois Masepe said
      Matebeleland, where the late Joshua Nkomo riveted the Ndebele into the
      mainstream of Zanu-PF after signing the 1987 unity accord between Zapu
      and Zanu, might not be that easy to win over. "The Ndebele lost
      confidence in the new Zapu leadership within Zanu-PF and defected to the
      opposition."

      The intention of the Tsholotsho meeting "was to replace the old guard
      with new blood within the Matebeleland provinces. They wanted to bring
      back the Zapu vote that had gone to the MDC [Movement for Democratic
      Change]," he said.

      Among the suspended Zanu-PF officials are war veterans' leader Jabulani
      Sibanda and former provincial leaders in Matebeleland south; Lloyd
      Siyoka, Matebeleland north; Jacob Mudenda, Midlands; July Moyo,
      Manicaland; Mark Madiro, Masvingo; and Daniel Shumba.

      "They are not going to campaign for the party. We are losing all 22
      seats in Matebeleland provinces to the opposition because the top
      leadership was careless," a party insider told the Mail & Guardian.

      A parliamentarian in the Midlands told the M&G that "they [party
      leadership] should have told us beforehand that we shouldn't submit our
      nominations for the vice-president post.

      "They allowed us to campaign only to turn against us when they
      realised we had six provinces in the bag. The people here are very angry
      ... there isn't so much enthusiasm."

      A fired-up Mugabe recently launched his party's manifesto during a
      two-and-half-hour address in which British Prime Minister Tony Blair,
      United States President George Bush and the MDC came in for stick.

      The Zanu-PF secretary for the commissariat, Elliot Manyika, warned the
      party's youth that "those that shall engage in deliberate acts of
      violence shall not hide behind the party". William Nhara told the M&G
      that "we can win these elections without engaging in violence".

      But Dr Lovemore Madhuku of the University of Zimbabwe believes Zanu-PF
      is not being sincere.

      "They are trying to create the impression they stand for free and
      fair elections. They also don't want their youth to go to the extreme
      and tarnish the election."

      "The situation on the ground is far from normal. Police officers in
      Kwekwe and Gokwe rural areas have been accused of being MDC supporters
      after arresting Zanu-PF youths who had engaged in forms of violence,"
      said MDC secretary general Professor Welshman Ncube.

      The party launched its election manifesto last Sunday in Masvingo,
      300km south of Harare. Economic grievances, unemployment, the shrinking
      manufacturing sector and governance featured prominently on the
      opposition agenda.

      *****

      Kenyan school turns to handhelds
      By Julian Siddle
      BBC Go Digital

      At the Mbita Point primary school in western Kenya students click away
      at a handheld computer with a stylus.

      They are doing exercises in their school textbooks which have been
      digitised.

      It is a pilot project run by EduVision, which is looking at ways to use
      low cost computer systems to get up-to-date information to students who
      are currently stuck with ancient textbooks.

      Matthew Herren from EduVision told the BBC programme Go Digital how the
      non-governmental organisation uses a combination of satellite radio and
      handheld computers called E-slates.

      "The E-slates connect via a wireless connection to a base station in
      the school. This in turn is connected to a satellite radio receiver. The
      data is transmitted alongside audio signals."

      The base station processes the information from the satellite
      transmission and turns it into a form that can be read by the handheld
      E-slates.

      "It downloads from the satellite and every day processes the stream,
      sorts through content for the material destined for the users connected
      to it. It also stores this on its hard disc."

      Linux link

      The system is cheaper than installing and maintaining an internet
      connection and conventional computer network. But Mr Herren says there
      are both pros and cons to the project.

      "It's very simple to set up, just a satellite antenna on the roof of
      the school, but it's also a one-way connection, so getting feedback or
      specific requests from end users is difficult."

      The project is still at the pilot stage and EduVision staff are on the
      ground to attend to teething problems with the Linux-based system.

      "The content is divided into visual information, textual information
      and questions. Users can scroll through these sections independently of
      each other."

      EduVision is planning to include audio and video files as the system
      develops and add more content.

      Mr Herren says this would vastly increase the opportunities available
      to the students. He is currently in negotiations to take advantage of a
      project being organised by search site Google to digitise some of the
      world's largest university libraries.

      "All books in the public domain, something like 15 million, could be
      put on the base stations as we manufacture them. Then every rural school
      in Africa would have access to the same libraries as the students in
      Oxford and Harvard"

      Currently the project is operating in an area where there is mains
      electricity. But Mr Herren says EduVision already has plans to extend it
      to more remote regions.

      "We plan to put a solar panel at the school with the base station, have
      the E-slates charge during the day when the children are in school, then
      they can take them home at night and continue working."

      Maciej Sundra, who designed the user interface for the E-slates, says
      the project's ultimate goal is levelling access to knowledge around the
      world.

      "Why in this age when most people do most research using the internet
      are students still using textbooks? The fact that we are doing this in a
      rural developing country is very exciting - as they need it most."
    • 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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