- Malawi: Sweden Resumes Aid
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
June 1, 2005
Posted to the web June 1, 2005
In a vote of confidence in the Malawi government, Sweden has broken a four-year aid freeze and provided about US $5.5 million in budget support.
"Malawi has made considerable progress on macroeconomic stabilisation and maintaining control of public expenditure," noted the Swedish International Development Cooperation (SIDA). It also welcomed the government's "strong anticorruption stance".
In 2001 the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and major Western governments, including Sweden, barred budget support for Malawi as a result of government overspending - up to 80 percent of Malawi's development budget is provided by donors.
SIDA, along with the British Department for International Development (DFID), Norway and the European Commission (EC), provide financial support to Malawi under the Common Approach to Budget Support (CABS).
Sweden decided to resume aid after a CABS review in March found that Malawi had made progress in controlling public expenditure. The review also noted the possible resumption of a Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) - the IMF's concessional loan scheme to poor countries.
DFID expects to contribute $38 million towards the 2005/06 budget, "subject to continued good macroeconomic and fiscal management, and support for progress towards the [UN's] Millennium Development Goals".
The EC is expected to release about $17 million if the PRGF is approved, and another $27.4 million for the 2005/06 budget.
Norway, which withheld support early last year because of deviations from the approved budget, also resumed aid later in 2004. The Norwegian government released $3.5 million in February this year and will disburse another $6 million for 2005/06.
Tanzania Seeks New Strategies for Growth
The East African (Nairobi)
May 30, 2005
Posted to the web June 1, 2005
Tanzania's economic growth rate of 6.7 per cent in this financial year has been hampered by poor infrastructure, a key limitation factor to the GDP growth.
Finance Minister Basil Mramba said the government will from the next financial year pay more attention to infrastructure as a strategy for promoting higher growth.
He said about 40 per cent of Tanzania's budget expenditure for the next financial year, like the current year, will rely on donor funding, adding that the 2005/06 expenditure will be increase by 30 per cent over the current one.
Mr Mramba said during Public Expenditure Review Consultative meeting in Dar es Salaam last week that the next budget guideline will go up to Tsh4.103 trillion ($3.90 billion) from Tsh3.350 trillion ($3.19 billion) in the current year.
The next budget estimates will be presented in parliament, Dodoma, on June 8.
On infrustructure, the minister said the government would explore a variety of options for financing infrastructure development and maintenance.
The options include: creation of more but manageable fiscal space for infrastructure and creation of favourable climate for build-operate-transfer or build-own-operate-transfer infrastructure projects.
He said another factor that constrains Tanzania's efforts to attain higher growth rates and create of more jobs was the debt burden.
Mr Mramba said an analysis conducted by the National Debt Sustainability Team had shown that Tanzania was not a debt-distressed country. "But it is still having a debt service burden that inhibits it from setting aside enough resources to generate high growth and jobs," he added.
Planning and Privatisation Permanent Secretary Enos Bukuku said the GDP growth rate of 6.7 per cent was due to "strong performance in agriculture, tourism as well as transport and communication."
In the 2004/05 budget, statistics showed that the agriculture sector - the backbone of Tanzanian economy - grew by six per cent compared with four per cent of the previous year.
Mr Bukuku said favourable weather in many parts of the country contributed to the higher growth rate of the sector.
However, the share of agriculture sector in the total GDP declined slightly from 46.7 per cent in 2003 to 46.4 per cent in 2004.
On the other hand, mining registered a decline of 15.6 per cent in 2004 compared with 18 per cent in 2003. The manufacturing sector maintained a growth rate of 8.6 per cent for two consecutive years.
By the end of March, total government expenditure amounted to Tsh2.426 trillion ($2.310 billion), equivalent to 2.4 per cent below the estimates of Tsh2.487 trillion ($2.36 billion).
Inflation has been low and stable, averaging four per cent since 2000, compared with more than 30 per cent in the mid 1990s, said Mr Bukuku.
Tanzania's foreign exchange reserves have improved to eight-months of imports compared with less than two-months during the early 1990s.
WFP: Zimbabwe needs 1,2-million tonnes of food
Duncan Guy | Johannesburg
02 June 2005 08:19
advertisementZimbabwe needs to import 1,2-million tonnes of food to support its population, the head of the World Food Programme (WFP) James Morris said on Wednesday.
"Some three to four million people will need help in the next year. It will peak this December through January to March," Morris told reporters at Johannesburg International airport.
He has just completed a tour of countries in the Southern Africa region.
Morris said President Robert Mugabe made a "strong commitment in support of non-governmental organisations" to distribute food aid.
Morris stressed the importance of NGOs helping to strengthen Southern Africa's capacity to distribute food as well as to tackle HIV/Aids.
While discussing the forced removals of informal businesses and houses in Zimbabwe was not the purpose of this trip, Morris said he had chatted to Mugabe about it privately.
"I told him how important it was to respect the rights of every citizen ... especially those facing difficult circumstances."
Morris said the WFP was not reluctant to distribute food in Zimbabwe. "I wish the world was perfect," he said.
"It is the job of the WFP to see that the world does not starve".
He said the world was replete with difficulties but that it was up to other organisations to deal with other issues.
Turning to HIV/Aids, Morris said he had learned that Zimbabwe's health ministry was in a strong position to tackle the pandemic.
Morris also said that he had learned that in Malawi 95% of people on anti-retrovirals had "gone back to work".
However, he said Zimbabwe still had a long way to go, with only 12 000 people on anti-retroviral treatment versus 350 000 in need of it.
"Three thousand people died from Aids a week in Zimbabwe. In Malawi 10 people die an hour," he said.
Morris added that he had been impressed with community and government feeding schemes in Botswana and Zambia.
He also said that something needed to be done to the agricultural system in Southern Africa where a combination of issues had led to the world's most serious humanitarian crisis, exacerbated by bad weather. - Sapa
'Help end Zim's tyrannical clean-up campaign'
01 June 2005 04:53
advertisementZimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday called for action against a "tyrannical" urban clean-up campaign that has left thousands destitute and homeless and led to the arrest of about 22 000 people in Harare.
Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, also called for foreign intervention to pressure President Robert Mugabe's government to end the controversial drive in major towns and cities.
"Overnight, Zimbabwe has been turned into a massive internal refugee centre with between one million and 1,5-million people displaced in Harare alone," Tsvangirai told a news conference.
"Property worth millions of dollars has gone up in flames. Families are out in the open without jobs, without shelter.
"The people across the political divide must organise themselves against this form of tyranny and outright callousness. May I appeal to the international community to support the displaced people and exert pressure on the Mugabe regime to stop this project?"
Tsvangirai said "the only way Mugabe and [the ruling] Zanu-PF can be stopped from going ahead with this project is through a combination of local and international pressure".
Bands of armed police have gone on the rampage in the past two weeks in major towns across Zimbabwe, demolishing and torching backyard shacks and makeshift shop stalls in a campaign that has attracted widespread condemnation.
One of the country's oldest townships of Mbare in Harare resembled a town struck by a natural disaster on Monday, with timber, cardboard, roofing sheets and broken furniture strewn all over.
The opposition leader said his party is not opposed to a genuine exercise to spruce up cities and towns and promote orderly business.
"What we are against is the manner of this so-called clean-up exercise where people are subjected to intimidation and harassment by the police," he said.
Tsvangirai on Monday visited some of townships and slums where police flattened shacks built without approval.
"I spent five hours visiting various sites previously occupied by poor families ... The picture was shocking. I saw children sitting in the open in this cold winter and I heard old women tell horrendous tales of betrayal at the hands of the Mugabe regime."
Meanwhile, Zimbabwean police said they have arrested 22 000 in Harare for various offences since the launch of the clean-up campaign.
"We have arrested 22 000 people in Harare alone for various offences, including illegal vending, selling foreign currency on the black market and hoarding scarce commodities," Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena, the police spokesperson, said.
"We are still proceeding with the operation. We are dealing with illegal settlements and other settlements that were set up by unlicensed vendors. Some of the vendors were acting as conduits for proceeds of crime," he said. -- Sapa-AFP
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
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
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.
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.
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