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  • Christine Chumbler
    Malawi: Country Facing Yet Another Food Crisis UN Integrated Regional Information Networks March 24, 2005 Posted to the web March 24, 2005 Lilongwe Yet another
    Message 1 of 1046 , Mar 25, 2005
      Malawi: Country Facing Yet Another Food Crisis

      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

      March 24, 2005
      Posted to the web March 24, 2005

      Lilongwe

      Yet another food crisis is looming in drought-prone Malawi this year
      following a dry spell in the country's south and central regions.

      Mzimba district in the northern region is one such area which did not
      receive any rainfall from the second week of February until the middle
      of March, when the young maize crop had already withered.

      "You can see for yourself. The entire crop is useless... it is dry not
      because they have matured but because of the sun," Wanangwa Nhlema, a
      farmer in Mzima told IRIN.

      Malawi last year had staged a slight recovery after a spell of three
      droughts in four years. At the height of the crisis about three million
      Malawians needed food aid; in January 2004, the number of beneficiaries
      had dropped to 400,000 people.

      However, a recent Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET)
      report warned that, "Coming on the heels of a bad year in 2003/04 in the
      south, [another] production failure... would likely result in severe
      household food shortage."

      Juliana Banda, a mother of four and a farmer in Mzima, said the
      government should be prepared to keep ADMARC, the state grain marketer,
      stocked for the "impending food shortage".

      In the Karonga district in the northern region, households have started
      employing coping mechanisms such as surviving on cassava and bananas and
      skipping meals.

      Karonga's Rural Agricultural Division Programme Manager Emmanuel
      Ching'amba said the worst-hit areas were Lupembe in Karonga and Ntharile
      in Chitipa district.

      Jimmy Mwalwanda, a farmer in Lupembe told IRIN, "We have lost
      everything. We will need to grow winter crops now."

      After a tour of the drought-affected regions last week, Minister of
      Agriculture and Food Security Gwanda Chakuamba told journalists that the
      government would buy 40,000 mt of maize.

      "We now have 60,000 mt of maize in the reserve... Government has plans
      to help those that have been badly hit with some seeds for winter
      crops," he said.

      President Bingu wa Mutharika told donors in the capital, Lilongwe, that
      Malawi would be facing a food shortage and appealed for assistance. He
      called on both government and its development partners to explore long
      and short-term measures for arresting pernnial food shortages.

      The World Food Programme (WFP) has been providing emergency food
      assistance to 1.3 million vulnerable people under its regional
      Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation since January. "We are ready to
      scale-up our operations which ends this month," said the agency's
      spokeswoman Antonella D' Aprile.

      "We are awaiting the results of the VAC [Vulnerability Assessment
      Committee] assessments due next month to get a clear picture of the
      number of people who would need assistance from the harvest period which
      starts in April," she added.

      Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe told IRIN last month that the
      government had put in place measures to alleviate the food shortage. "If
      the food situation reached crisis point, government will take some money
      from other programmes and buy maize. We are also working with WFP on
      this issue to sort out the food crisis," he said.

      *****

      Malawi: Reopening of Notorious Jail Reveals Old Wounds

      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

      March 24, 2005
      Posted to the web March 24, 2005

      Lilongwe

      The problem of overcrowding in Malawi's jails has long been a source of
      national concern, but the government's decision to re-open a notorious
      prison where opponents of former president Kamuzu Banda were
      incarcerated has hit controversy.

      Former president Bakili Muluzi ordered the closure of Mikuyu and the
      release of all political prisoners when he was took power in 1994,
      ending three decades of Banda's iron-fisted rule.

      Minister of Home Affairs Uladi Mussa last week announced the infamous
      prison, renowned for its cruelty, would soon start housing prisoners
      again to ease congestion in the country's jails - especially Zomba
      Central Prison.

      "It is the intention of the government to keep prisoners under
      humanitarian conditions. The conditions at Zomba Central Prison are
      inhumane and the government cannot condone it," Mussa told journalists.

      Built in 1919 by colonial administrators, Zomba Central Prison is being
      severely stretched by overcrowding. Prison cells designed to accommodate
      a maximum of 20 inmates are housing up to 50 prisoners. Poor living
      conditions have led to an outbreak of diseases such as scabies and
      tuberculosis.

      While political commentators acknowledge that the sub-standard
      conditions in prisons throughout the country warrants serious attention,
      they argue the reopening of Mikuyu prison would be disrespectful to
      political dissidents and intellectuals detained at the prison for long
      periods without trial during Banda's rule.

      "The re-opening of Mikuyu Prison is a slap in the face to those who
      suffered during the one party state. If the government says there is
      congestion in our prisons then it should admit that the system is not
      working. What government could do is to speed up court cases and build
      new prisons," Rafiq Hajat, of the Blantyre-based Institute for Policy
      Interaction, told IRIN.

      Political analyst Boniface Dulani said the re-opening of the prison
      would "demean" the struggle against Banda's authoritarian rule, but
      added that given Malawi's meagre resources, the government could
      ill-afford to build new jails.

      "It is pity that a very important chapter in our history has to be
      glossed over but we need to be realistic. Our country is faced with
      severe poverty and that is where our resources should go. It is
      worthwhile to look into turning at least part of the prison into a
      museum while the rest of the complex houses ordinary prisoners," he
      said.

      Apart from Mikuyu, two prisons in southern Nsanje district on the
      Mozambican border and the Dzeleka detention camp near Lilongwe in
      central Malawi are to reopen.

      *****

      Mugabe 'made ex-spin doctor cry'

      Zimbabwe's ex-Information Minister Jonathan Moyo cried when asked if he
      was plotting a coup, President Robert Mugabe has told a campaign rally.

      Last month Mr Moyo decided to stand as an independent in the 31 March
      polls, after being sacked by the president.

      "We asked him whether he wanted to stage a coup... and tears started
      flowing down his cheeks," Mr Mugabe said in Mr Moyo's home district.

      Mr Moyo was Mr Mugabe's spokesman and the architect of tough media
      laws.

      'Greater enemies'

      He was disciplined by the ruling Zanu-PF party in December and dropped
      from the top policy body after campaigning against Mr Mugabe's choice
      for vice-president, Joyce Mujuru.

      Mr Moyo's rise and fall
      At the campaign rally in the western area of Tsholotsho, attended by
      some 3,000 supporters, the president said Mr Moyo had met an army
      commander and hinted he may have been plotting a coup.

      "He did terrible things, going to the army commander," Mr Mugabe told
      the crowd, gathered in a dusty stadium outside a beer shop owned by Mr
      Moyo, reports the AFP news agency.

      Mr Moyo, a professor of political studies, was once a harsh critic of
      Mr Mugabe before being named information minister.

      The media laws he drafted have seen the expulsion of foreign
      correspondents, the closure of the most popular daily paper and the
      threat of prison terms for journalists who work without a state licence.


      "No, Jonathan, you are clever, but you lack wisdom. You are educated,
      but you do not have wisdom," Mr Mugabe said.

      Mr Mugabe warned that Tsholotsho would head into "oblivion" if it voted
      for Mr Moyo.

      The seat is currently held by the opposition Movement for Democratic
      Change.


      *****

      Zimbabwe fights jailed MP ruling

      Zimbabwe's election authority is fighting a court ruling that allows a
      jailed opposition MP to run in parliamentary elections this month.
      Roy Bennett, who is one of three white Zimbabwean MPs, is serving a
      one-year sentence for assaulting a minister during a debate in
      parliament.

      An electoral court judge last week found Bennett met all the criteria
      to stand as a candidate from prison.

      But President Robert Mugabe said his government would contest the
      decision.

      The electoral court had also ruled that the vote should be put off
      until 30 April in the eastern district of Chimanimani, where Bennett won
      a seat in the 2000 elections, so he could campaign.

      Bennett, 48, is one of the most prominent candidates of the Movement
      for Democratic Change (MDC), the largest opposition party.

      Mr Mugabe, who branded the ruling "stupid", said the country could not
      be "held ransom by a man who is in prison".

      'Shocked'

      Bennett's farm has been confiscated by the government under a scheme to
      give white people's land to poor blacks.

      A spokesman for the MDC, Paul Themba-Nyathi, said the party was
      "shocked" by the appeal from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission -
      allegedly an independent body.

      "It places [the commission] in an invidious position regarding its
      neutrality in this election," he said of the appeal.

      Meanwhile, the MDC has chosen Bennett's wife Heather to stand in his
      place in the Chimanimani constituency in the elections scheduled for 31
      March.

      Bennett's sentence was decided by the Zimbabwean parliament, which has
      the authority to impose prison sentences on MPs.

      *****

      Mugabe targets Zim's women voters

      Johannesburg, South Africa



      25 March 2005 09:38

      Zimbabwe's ageing President Robert Mugabe presented a startling sight
      as he launched his party's election campaign with a woman's scarf tied
      around his head.

      The campaign for a parliamentary election that critics have deplored as
      skewed by repressive laws and intimidation has seen a flurry of measures
      aimed at uplifting women in Zimbabwe's fiercely patriarchal society.
      With little to show for nearly 25 years in power, Mugabe's critics
      charge his women's outreach is just a ploy to burnish his image.

      "He is a traditionalist with very little time for women," said John
      Makumbe, a University of Zimbabwe political scientist. "His volte face
      now is really a gimmick aimed at capturing women's votes in the face of
      a persistent opposition challenge that is threatening his government."

      Mugabe does need to get out the vote. His party won just 62 of
      Parliament's 120 elected seats in 2000, despite what independent
      observers called widespread violence and rigging.

      He has rallied support since then with an often violent campaign to
      right colonial-era imbalances by redistributing white-owned farms to
      black Zimbabweans.

      Earlier this month, Mugabe was forced to acknowledge that the former
      regional breadbasket is no longer producing enough food to feed itself,
      though he blamed four years of crippling drought for the crisis.

      "He has no real achievements around the land issue, so now he has to
      change his tune," Makumbe said in a telephone interview from the United
      States, where he is a guest lecturer at Michigan State University.

      Mugabe said he wore the green, black, yellow and red scarf, which
      belongs to the Zanu-PF women's league, to remind supporters at last
      month's rally that "if you ignore women, you are gone".

      Women make up 51% of Zimbabwe's 11,6-million people, but hold just 13
      of Parliament's 120 elected seats and three of the 30 appointed by
      Mugabe. Women say they also face discrimination in applying for jobs,
      accessing land and owning property.

      In December, Mugabe appointed Joyce Mujuru as Zanu-PF and the country's
      first woman Vice-President.

      His party has also fielded 30 female candidates in the March 31
      election in what it calls a serious bid to bring the country in line
      with the Southern African Development Community's goal of filling 30% of
      leadership posts with women.

      The ruling Zanu-PF has trumpeted the moves as a victory for women in
      Zimbabwean politics.

      "For years, women have proved to be consistent and have a track record
      of hard work," Oppah Muchinguri, Zanu-PF's secretary for women's
      affairs, was quoted as saying by the state-run Herald newspaper.

      "They are the very same ones who have been voting for men who today are
      in power. Why then should they not unite and claim victory for
      themselves?"

      Others, however, are more sceptical.

      Mujuru's appointment was seen less as an attempt to advance women than
      a way of excluding her main rival, parliamentary Speaker Emmerson
      Mnangagwa, who has made clear his ambition to succeed the 81-year-old
      Mugabe.

      "It was an opportunistic political appointment dressed up as a
      progressive move by a party which has never demonstrated the political
      will to ensure women are afforded their equal status in society," said
      Lucia Matibenga, chairperson of the opposition Movement for Democratic
      Change's (MDC) women's assembly.

      There have been few other high-powered appointments. Only one of
      Parliament's 15 portfolio committees is chaired by a woman, though it is
      the important public accounts committee. Three of 32 Cabinet ministers,
      one of 10 provincial governors and the deputy speaker of Parliament are
      also women.

      Mugabe used the female candidates quota to exclude neatly a number of
      men -- including Jonathan Moyo, the sacked information minister now
      running independently -- who challenged his decision to appoint Mujuru.
      The dispute pitting party veterans loyal to Mugabe against a new
      generation of leaders caused the worst split in Zanu-PF since the end of
      white rule in 1980.

      If the ruling party was serious about achieving 30% female
      representation in Parliament, analysts argue it should have fielded many
      more than 30 candidates -- and placed them in constituencies where they
      have a chance of winning.

      "They are always putting women as candidates, yes, but they put the
      women where they know they have no chance," said Fanny Chirisa,
      programme manager of the independent Women in Politics Support Unit.

      Ten of Zanu-PF's women candidates are running for seats in urban areas,
      seen as opposition strongholds. Others are contesting more marginal
      seats.

      Chirisa also believes the party is fielding few women "of calibre" --
      educated and articulate enough to make women's issues heard in
      Parliament.

      Other parties aren't doing much better. Fifty-seven women in all are
      running in this election, compared with 216 men. They include just 17
      from the MDC, eight from the tiny opposition Zanu-Ndonga and two
      independent candidates. Many of them are running in areas considered as
      unwinnable as the urban constituencies contested by Zanu-PF's women.

      "Our political parties are not serious," Chirisa said with contempt,
      describing their sudden interest in women as "a campaigning tool". --
      Sapa-AP

      *****

      Zambia benefits from Zim's white farmers

      Choma, Zambia



      25 March 2005 09:21

      White farmers who lost their land in Zimbabwe are helping neighbouring
      Zambia shore up its tobacco and maize production while steering clear of
      political controversy.

      In the southern town of Choma, about 25 Zimbabwean farmers are leasing
      farmland to grow tobacco and maize for export and creating jobs for many
      poor Zambians and an "outbreak of money", officials say.

      "Tobacco production has increased in the last three years because of
      the white Zimbabwean farmers who have introduced highly mechanised
      farming in Zambia," says Finance Minister Ngandu Magande.

      "There is an outbreak of money in Choma," Magande adds.

      The group is part of Zimbabwe's 4 500 white commercial farmers who had
      been targeted by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's government since
      2000 and whose prime land had been taken away and given to landless
      blacks.

      Before the land invasions, white farmers, mainly descendants of British
      settlers, owned 70% of the most fertile land in Zimbabwe.

      The Choma agriculturists are farming on long-term leases from
      individual Zambians who were unable to develop the land because of a
      lack of capital and equipment, and are being financed through
      $25-million in loans from United States tobacco company Universal.

      "Each farm employs about 120 local people," says Tim Carter (47), a
      Zimbabwean who owns Nkanga Farms, a tract of land of about 480ha west of
      Choma.

      Carter left Zimbabwe in 1983, three years after Zimbabwean independence
      and 17 years before Mugabe let his supporters, led by independence war
      veterans, attack and take over white-owned farms.

      Mugabe's policy sparked an exodus, with farmers leaving for Zambia and
      Mozambique and a handful even going as far away as Nigeria to rebuild
      their lives.

      Most farmers crossed into Zambia without equipment because the
      Zimbabwean government imposed a ban on the movement of farm machinery.

      "The Zim farmers had to start from scratch," Carter says.

      Universal has provided loans to buy new machinery.

      He says he hopes things will change for the better in Zimbabwe after
      the parliamentary polls on Thursday and is rooting for the opposition
      Movement for Democratic Change.

      After the scathing experience of Zimbabwe, the white farmers are
      keeping a low profile in Zambia.

      "We don't even talk politics here. It's sports and farming," Carter
      says.

      Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa last year sternly warned the
      Zimbabwean farmers that they will be thrown out if they use speech that
      is deemed to be racist.

      "In Britain, you can tell [Prime Minister Tony] Blair 'go to hell', but
      if you tell [Zambia's Agriculture Minister Mundia] Sikatana 'go to
      hell', you will be deported," Mwanawasa warned.

      The Zimbabwean farmers do not have permanent resident status in Zambia,
      but have been allowed to settle in the country as "investors".

      "We have issued a total of 61 investment certificates to Zimbabwean
      investors in the agriculture sector since 1993," says Sharon Sichilongo,
      spokesperson for the Zambia Investment Centre.

      "Holders of investment certificates are allowed to stay in Zambia as
      long as they stick to the business for which the certificate was
      issued," she adds.

      On Nkanga, in a nearby field, several dozen women with babies tied to
      their backs are harvesting tobacco in the scorching sun, back-breaking
      work that pays farmhands an average of 180 000 kwacha (about R230) per
      month.

      "The Zimbabwean farmers have really helped us," says Amon Deman, Nkanga
      Farms' Zambian manager. "At least we now have jobs and a steady income
      to enable us to send our children to school." -- Sapa-AFP
    • 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

        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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