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  • Christine Chumbler
    Malawi: Lands Ministry Mobilizes Against Aids Impact UN Integrated Regional Information Networks August 3, 2005 Posted to the web August 3, 2005 Johannesburg
    Message 1 of 1046 , Aug 4, 2005
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      Malawi: Lands Ministry Mobilizes Against Aids Impact

      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

      August 3, 2005
      Posted to the web August 3, 2005

      Johannesburg

      Malawi has launched its first ever campaign to tackle the impact of HIV/AIDS on staff in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Surveys.

      According to Lands Minister Bazuka Mhango, the strategy was developed as a result of "perpetual absenteeism" and the deaths of workers from AIDS-related illnesses.


      Mhango was reported by the local Chronicle newspaper as saying: "HIV/AIDS is a menace to the workforce ... as a result, the ministry is not performing to its expected capacity."

      The programme aims to reduce HIV transmission, improve the quality life of those affected and infected, and promote behaviour change.

      *****

      DPP Uses Govt Vehicles to Ferry Supporters

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      August 1, 2005
      Posted to the web August 1, 2005

      Pilirani Phiri
      Lilongwe

      President Bingu wa Mutharika's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on Friday used government vehicles to ferry its supporters to Nsanje where the President was inspecting the site for the construction of a port facility for the Shire-Zambezi Waterway.

      But in an interview DPP spokesperson Hetherwick Ntaba defended the use of the vehicles, saying the Nsanje function was a public one. "The President was inspecting the site for the construction of the Shire-Zambezi Waterway so anyone from DPP, MCP or UDF was free to jump in. If MCP and UDF supporters did not want to use the facility that government provided - that was their problem," said Ntaba.

      Reliable sources told The Chronicle that the party, through its southern region heavyweights demanded the release of vehicles from Air Malawi, Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA) BL 436, Water Board, and ESCOM to ferry DPP supporters, especially women to Nsanje to sing praises for the President.

      The source said the party's heavyweights (names withheld) intimidated the parastatal's bosses saying that they had instructions from 'above' to have the vehicles ready by Friday morning. "Some of these heavyweights were taking the issue too far, and it was bordering on blackmail. They threatened that failure to release the vehicles would be deemed as the heads of para-statals being anti government, a move that was frequently used by UDF cadres" said the source.

      An employee from ESCOM, who sought anonymity, confirmed that indeed the DPP officials did come to ESCOM to say they had instructions from above to demand vehicles to ferry DPP supporters to Nsanje. "It was not quite as usual because this time, they were intimating that some parastatal bosses are sympathetic to the opposition and do not want to support the growth of the President's party," said the source.

      Since he took over the presidency from his predecessor Bakili Muluzi, President Mutharika has been speaking loudly about the need for a complete separation between party and government and has championed the desire to stop the abuse of state resources for party functions. With the current trend, many now believe he was only paying lip service to the ideal.

      The Shire-Zambezi Waterway project, Mutharika told Parliament in his address recently will attract investment funding of between US$5 - US$10 billion.

      He described the re-opening of the Shire-Zambezi Waterway as the most important project to be implemented by his government. "This project has tremendous potential to reduce transportation costs for exports and imports. This Waterway was utilised up to the 1970s and its re-opening will enable us to open up the country to the Indian Ocean through the Chinde Port in Mozambique," Mutharika said in Parliament.

      There still remains a lot of scepticism on the viability of such an ambitious project especially when Malawi is failing hopelessly to attract sufficient donor funding to open up and make the Nacala Corridor a reality. The Corridor, according to estimates currently only needs an injection of about US$2 billion to rehabilitate fully and, with the donation of locomotives from Taiwan still remains Malawi's best, and most cost effective route to the sea.

      *****

      Most Mothers Infected Are Poor, Effectively Increasing the Cases of Malnutrition

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      August 1, 2005
      Posted to the web August 1, 2005

      Nyingi Nandi Ngosi
      Lilongwe

      "Although we encourage breastfeeding as the best food source for babies under six months of age, many mothers are living with the virus and cannot breastfeed them. Most of the time, this results in malnutrition, making the campaign difficult," revealed one nurse involved in the breastfeeding campaign.

      She said the HIV/AIDS pandemic has made the exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months campaign difficult for the health sector since most mothers who are encouraged to breastfeed are living with the virus and may increase the opportunity of passing the virus on to their children.

      Additionally the number of malnourished children would also increase due to a lack of nutrient foods to feed the mothers as a result of poverty.

      Poverty has deepened in many households due to the deaths of many bread winners who perish every day from HIV/AIDS related diseases, leaving behind children and mothers without a means to generate any income for their day to day lives.

      The nurse working with the John Hopkins Project based in Blantyre said there is a distinct link between malnutrition and HIV/AIDS. When a child is infected, his or her immunity is low and any disease can attack the baby. Malnutrition follows thereafter although the child is fed on a balanced diet.

      When a child's immune system is compromised, any disease can attack the baby. Although guardians will attempt to dig deep to buy appropriate foods, the malnourished child's condition does not improve.

      Almost forty percent of malnourished children and their mothers admitted in hospitals and health centers are found to be on tuberculosis treatment due to a failed immune system caused by HIV.

      Although powdered milk is provided to mothers who cannot breastfeed to give to their babies, it has been discovered that due to poor sanitation by most mothers when preparing the milk, some babies develop diarrhoea and, after a short period they become malnourished and emancipated.

      Apart from the HIV/AIDS pandemic, another contributing factor for malnutrition is ignorance, which is very common among many mothers.

      This makes child malnutrition a serious problem in the country. "Instead of giving babies porridge and fruits found locally, many of these mothers give them tea, and most of the time without milk, fanta and other foods which are not nutritious and do not help in child growth and development," she said.

      She added that there are good foods and fruits locally found which mothers can give to their little ones so as to avoid malnutrition but due to ignorance, this is not done.

      A child may be born underweight because the mother too is malnourished.

      This is the result if the mother had little access to nutritious foods due to poverty and other traditional practices that prevent pregnant mothers from eating nutritious food such as eggs believing that the child to be born will be bald.

      Efforts to promote breastfeeding have increased in the health sector and an acceleration of the campaign is expected to assist in the good and healthy growth of babies. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recom-mendation, discourages the advertising of baby milk formula being the best for the baby and attempts to encourage that babies are breastfed exclusively up to the age of 6 months.

      This code has not been fully implemented although it has been in place for nearly 25 years now.

      At Kamuzu Central Hospital in the capital, Lilongwe almost 70 percent of the patients admitted to the hospital wards are found to be HIV positive.

      *****

      British Army Imparts Anti-Poaching Skills to KU Game Rangers

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      August 1, 2005
      Posted to the web August 1, 2005

      Chikondi Chiyembekeza
      Lilongwe

      The British Army is helping in giving anti-poaching skills to Game Rangers at the Kasungu National Park. Secretary for Defence, James Kalilangwe said the exercise would go a long way in saving the number of game in the park, numbers of which have been declining over the past years.

      Of all the game, elephants have suffered the most due to poachers who regularly invade the park.

      According to figures sourced, the park used to have more than 3,000 elephants but to date the numbers have drastically declined and the park can only boast of having between 250 to 300 elephants.

      In the recent past, about six elephants were killed almost on a daily basis.

      For four weeks the British military spent time imparting anti-poaching skills and expertise to the Malawi Defence Forces (MDF) and the Kasungu National Park Game Rangers.

      The head of the British Military delegation, Lt. Col. Mark Goldsack (MBE) said, during the presentation at the Kasungu Infantry Battle School about 65 kilometers west of the district, that they fully support the park rangers and that the training will help them greatly.

      He said the training would increase the capability of the game wardens, which will in turn save the game for tourism purposes and boost the country's economy.

      Goldsack said the lessons they deliver are of a high standard bearing in mind that the poachers have developed a tendency of using sophisticated equipment. "It was an extremely hard weeks' training in bush. The training will give them confidence in conducting anti-poaching duties because without training they are extremely vulnerable," he said.

      He said the aim of the training, among others, was to ensure a number of appropriately and motivated cadres, in order to meet the operational requirements of Malawi.

      About 67 MDF personnel and 27 games rangers were involved in the training that was given.

      He said due to the training imparted, poaching has already drastically decreased. "The training has kept the poachers at bay." Kalilangwe also advised the soldiers to be on the watch for the killer disease AIDS, as they had stayed away from their families for a long time. "You should always be on guard on the disease," he said, however indicating that since the training was conducted in the bush, the prospects for engaging in immoral behaviour were next to none.

      At the end of the training, Lance Corporal Gerald Chingwaru emerged the best student, Best Section Corporal was Sgt. Limbani Chikoti whereas Phillip Kandoje and Sam Msiska emerged the best in Physical Training (PT) and the most improved student, respectively.

      Meanwhile, the MDF Assistant Public Information Officer, Captain Francis Kakhuta-Banda has announced that from 23rd July - 2nd August, the MDF will start conducting a two-week military exercise in the areas of Luwawa, Chikangawa, Perekezi and Mzimba Township, in the Northern region of the country.

      A press release issued by the Malawi Defence Force headquarters on Friday last week asks the general public not to fear or feel disturbed by the presence of the army personnel in the areas.

      *****

      Chilumpha Snubs Mutharika, Govt.

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      August 1, 2005
      Posted to the web August 1, 2005

      Levison Mwase
      Lilongwe

      The Vice President, Cassim Chilumpha, who has been absent from four state functions within the month of July alone, has also missed attending eight cabinet meetings without proper explanation, The Chronicle has established.

      Sources at the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) said Chilumpha, who is also Water Development Minister, has not given substantive explanations for his absence from the eight cabinet meetings. "At first, he used to send apologies then he suddenly stopped doing even that. His absence at the cabinet meetings is affecting government business, especially in Parliament when MPs request responses from his ministry," said the sources.

      Information Minister Ken Lipenga refused to comment on the issue. "That issue is beyond my mandate. Commenting on it would be like revealing information concerning cabinet meetings which ministers are not supposed to do," he said. Ministers are sworn to secrecy on the deliberations of any cabinet meeting.

      However, OPC sources said Chilumpha's absence at cabinet meetings could mean that he is not ready to work in Mutharika's government. "The Vice President appears not to be interested in working with the current government while at the same time he continues to receive his salary from the same government he is shunning," said the sources in wonder.

      Apart from the eight cabinet meetings, Chilumpha has also been absent from four national events in the month of July alone.

      Chilumpha was conspicuously missing at a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a modern Parliament building in City Centre, Lilongwe that is to be partly funded by the government of Taiwan, ROC.

      The event, that took place on Wednesday, was presided over by President Bingu wa Mutharika and, for the first time had leaders of the MCP, UDF, AFORD, PPM, and MGODE, among others.

      The other national events that Chilumpha has missed without explanation include the burial of late Speaker of Parliament Rodwell Munyenyembe early this month and national prayers that were organised for the National Independence Day on July 6 in Lilongwe.

      He was again absent at the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a fertilizer manufacturing plant at Kanengo in Lilongwe on Monday last week.

      Chilumpha's Personal Assistant, Horace Nyaka when approached said the Vice President would not comment on the issue through the press. "Our position is that we will not discuss government business in the press," Nyaka said.

      However Political analyst Rafik Hajat said if all procedures were followed when inviting Chilumpha to cabinet meetings and that he indeed has not been attending, then it means there is something seriously wrong between the Veep and the President. "This could be the manifestation of the differences and animosity that exists between the UDF, where Chilumpha belongs and the DPP of President Mutharika," said Hajat.

      He also said Chilumpha's absence at cabinet meetings and national events means there is a lack of full representation of the people on the part of the Vice President. "Chilumpha was elected by the people as a running mate of the President. His absence at national events and cabinet meetings means that the duty that people entrusted him with is being ignored and neglected," said Hajat.

      Chancellor College Political Science Lecturer Boniface Dulani said Chilumpha's absence could mean things are not well between Mutharika and his number two. "We have situations in the recent past where the impression that has been given is one where the first and second citizen are not getting on, and that is real cause for concern," Dulani is quoted as saying.

      He even suggested that the current reconciliation talks that the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) is facilitating among political leaders should also include Chilumpha who could act as a common mediator between the two.

      It is alleged that Chilumpha recently went to MCP President John Tembo's house in Area 10 where he solicited MCP's support for the impeachment of Mutharika, which the UDF has brought before the National Assembly.

      Tembo had confirmed at a press conference at his house that Chilumpha indeed went over see him and that they had discussed the issue.

      UDF National Chairman Bakili Muluzi imposed Chilumpha on Mutharika as his running mate. This happened after Mutharika too was imposed on the UDF as their Presidential candidate, a move that saw those who had presidential ambitions leave the UDF to form a coalition against the UDF's dictatorial tendencies.

      *****

      CRECOM Introduces Education Project

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      August 1, 2005
      Posted to the web August 1, 2005

      Chimwemwe Festino
      Lilongwe

      In an effort to improve education opportunities for poor girls and to encourage them to remain in school so that they can complete their education, the Creative Centre for Community Mobilisation (CRECOM) recently launched the Ambassadors Girls Scholarship (AGSP) where 35 lucky girls from Limbuli Zone in Mulanje district benefited from the project and received donation of school equipment and other requirements.

      Among the items received are pair of school shoes, pair of uniform, socks, schoolbag, pencils, pens, exercise books soap, shoe polish, petroleum jelly and a 50kg maize bag.

      In his remarks during the colorful official ceremony held at Gambula Primary School, CRECOM's executive director Zikani Kaunda applauded the government of the United States of America (USA) for introducing AGSP whose aim is to support girls' education in Africa. "The girl child faces a lot of challenges in her education. She lacks school materials such as uniform, exercise books, shoes food etc. All these contribute to the failure of the girl child to continue with her education."

      "Now with the introduction of AGSP which targets the orphaned and vulnerable children, it will play a crucial role in completing their education as they will have no excuses of dropping out from school," explained Kaunda.

      He added that CRECOM is aware that the area has a lot of children who lack basic needs for their education but due to financial constraints, CRECOM cannot assist them all.

      "It is our hope that others such as parents. Chiefs, teachers, NGOs should come in and assist other needy children." "If we had enough funding, we would have loved to assist all the vulnerable and orphaned children because we value children with their education. For a country to develop, it requires people who are well educated," Kaunda explained.

      Asked why the AGSP targets only girls, Kaunda said girls face a lot of problems that prevent them from continuing with education than boys. "Girls are forced into early marriages as early as 14 or 15 years old, early pregnancies, forced to work as housemaids, look after household when the parents are not around hence need a lot of support so that they continue attending school," Kaunda said.

      Kaunda requested guardians and parents of the beneficiaries to avoid discriminating the orphaned and vulnerable children but instead to encourage them got o school.

      "Let us change the mind set of assisting only our children and leave the orphans to suffer. Its our responsibility of looking after all the children regardless of their status," advised Kaunda.

      Speaking at the same function guest of honour Gabriel Sapala, the principal Education Methods Advisor thanked CRECOM for implementing the project, which is being funded by USAID but contracted to Winrock International saying the programme will reduce the dropout rate of girls in schools.

      "My appeal is to those who have received this donation to make use of it because with their status of being orphans or vulnerable, this programme has come at the right time. At least some of the problems they have been encountering in their education have been sorted out by AGSP," said Sapala adding that CRECOM should continue with such an important project.

      AGSP is a project under the African Education Initiative announced by president George Bush in June 2002, which is designed to improve education opportunities for Africa's children, including support girls' education.

      It supports scholarships for retention and achievement of girls who would have otherwise not been in schools.

      Its objectives include to award scholarships to 3300 girls, support a focus on HIV/AIDS mitigation and prevention, and foster an increased role of parents and community in overall implementation of the programme.

      *****

      FPAM Providing Reproductive Services for All

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      August 1, 2005
      Posted to the web August 1, 2005

      Nyingi Nandi Ngosi
      Lilongwe

      The Family Planning Association Of Malawi (FPAM) mission statement is " Having a healthy Malawian society free of poverty, where young people, women and men enjoy basis sexual and reproductive health rights and gender sensitive, stigma free environment facilitate unlimited access to quality youth friendly and cultural sensitive is what the Family Planning Association of Malawi (FPAM) trying to achieve".

      International Planned Parenthood Federation in an assessment exercise conducted in 1996 found out that there were many youth infected with Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD's) including HIV/AIDS, a lot of teenage pregnancies.


      The assessment also discovered that the city of Lilongwe and Dowa district provided services that are relatively youth friendly.

      It was also discovered that many young people start having sex early, practice unprotected (unsafe) sex and do not seek appropriate services when infected by STIs or face sexual and reproductive health related problems.

      FPAM provides Youth Life Centres where youths age 10-24 get adequate and accurate sexual and reproductive information and services.

      Services offered at the Life Centers include; voluntary counseling and testing (VCT), clinical services, recreation where youth play different games, a library service having a variety of books tackling different subjects, life planning and skill development Statistics indicate that in 2004 the life centers had over 350 sexually transmitted infection clients as compared to 2003 and 2001 where there were less than 50 clients treated in both years.

      In Dowa district, the Life Center is said to have contributed to reducing incidence of STI, HIV/AIDS and teenage pregnancy at the Boma, T/A Chiwere, Msakambewa and Tukula.

      Richard Nkhoma a Kawale youth, said he takes advantage of the services offered at Kawale youth life center and has benefited much from the center. "According to my culture as a child I am not supposed to talk with my parents on reproductive issues and the only place I could learn much on reproductive health is here and I have learnt a lot on how I can prevent teenage pregnancies," he said.

      Nkhoma revealed that many youths shun health centers and hospitals when they have contracted STIs because they are not youth friendly. Often these health centers have personnel who claim to be youth friendly.

      He said this is different at the Life centers of Family Planning Association of Malawi where age is not a barrier. Youth of ten to 12 years have access to information on reproductive health and sexual issues.

      So far, it has been noted by the Counseling of Adolescent and Youth Organization (CAYO) that young girls prostitution is on the increase in Kawale, Biwi and Mchesi townships in the city of Lilongwe.

      Girls aged between 12 and 16 are reported to be patronizing bottle stores, taverns and rest houses offering their bodies to men at a price of K50.

      As a form of combating HIV/AIDS and STIs, FPAM distributes condoms to those who need them and the youth are empowered by receiving information they may request on life planning skills to help them make informed choices and adopt responsible sexual behavior.

      Other services offered at the Life Centers include; VCT, clinical services, recreation where youth play different games, a library service which has a variety of books tackling different subjects, life planning and skill development

      FPAM was set up after the International Planned Parenthood Federation assessment exercise conducted in 1996 found out that many youth were infected with STIs, HIV/AIDS, an increase in teenage pregnancies and that there were few service delivery points in the city of Lilongwe and Dowa district to provide services to address the situation.

      *****

      Road Traffic Boss Nabbed for Attempted Murder

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      August 1, 2005
      Posted to the web August 1, 2005

      Pilirani Phiri
      Lilongwe

      Police last week picked up former Road Traffic Directorate (RTD) director Jomo Mkandawire for questioning on allegations that he was plotting to kill regional traffic officer James Kalinde so as to suppress evidence as to how millions went unaccounted for at RTD during Mkandawire's time.

      The Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) is currently investigating how millions of kwachas went unaccounted for at the Lilongwe RTD in the period between February and July 2004.

      In a face-to-face interview with Mkandawire yesterday, while confirming being picked up for questioning, he said the allegations were untrue.

      He said at a time of questioning by the police, he did not even recognise the men whom Kalinde had alleged he (Mkanadawire) had hired to kill him. "What Kalinde is saying is nonsense. He is the one who is hiding a lot and I know that his girlfriends are involved in all this. He is trying to shift the focus from him so that he should emerge clean in this investigation, "He orchestrated my removal from RTD so what next does he want from me?

      The matter is now under ACB so we must all wait for the investigations.

      Why should I kill him? He is hiding something and you must find out what?," said Mkandawire who is now working for the Ministry of Transport.

      Mkandawire further alleged that even Ntekama, the police officer who questioned him, is a good friend to Kalinde.

      However, information reaching The Chronicle indicate that Mkandawire was picked for questioning along side two others only identified as London, and Kachali on allegations that they were plotting to kill Kalinde.

      The information indicate that a fortnight ago a wife to Kachali came to see Kalinde at his office to tip him that her husband was on Mkandawire's payroll to murder him.

      The woman, according to a source, alleged that Mkandawire believes Kalinde hates him to the extent that he would give cooked up information to have Mkandawire implicated in the on going investigations.

      The source said after the woman narrated the story, Kalinde detained the woman and phoned regional police criminal investigations officer, Bob Ntekama to come and witness the woman's narration.

      The source said the woman in the presence of Ntekama said Mkandawire had paid about K50, 000 to the woman's husband and about three others who were mapping up the murder plot.

      In an interview Kalinde confirmed that, apart from the woman, some of the men who were allegedly hired by Mkandawire to kill him also phoned to alert him of the plotted murder. "I am currently feeling insecure because of these stories that Mr Mkandawire is moving around organising gangs to kill me," said Kalinde in the face-to-face interview.

      Asked as to why he thought Mkandawire would want to kill him, Kalinde said Mkandawire knows that it was only him (Kalinde) who has all information on how Mkandawire swindled funds when he was RTD Director. "Mkandawire knows I know more about his dealings when he was here and I used to question him about where the money was going, so I am sure he may want to kill me so as to suppress evidence," alleged Kalinde.

      When contacted for confirmation on Mkandawire's questioning, both police public relations officer Willie Mwaluka and Kelvin Maigwa said they had no information when we called yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon as we were going to the press.

      The local media reported last week that in the period of February and July 2004 when Mkandawire was the director, RTD did not deposit K105.8 million collected from the Lilongwe office.

      It was reported that the directorate was supposed to deposit K19. 8 million in February, K23.5 million in March, K20.2 million in April, K19 million in May, and K23.2 million in June but that only K20.4 million was deposited.

      *****

      Omar Chants 'UDF Slogan' At DPP Rally

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      August 1, 2005
      Posted to the web August 1, 2005

      Gregory Gondwe
      Lilongwe

      Former cabinet minister and United Democratic Front (UDF) Member of Parliament, now a sympathiser of State President Bingu wa Mutharika's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Iqbar Omar cursed his slip of the tongue at a DPP rally in Lilongwe last Sunday when he erroneously chanted "UDF Woyee!"

      Omar, who was in the middle of explaining a point felt very embarrassed when an intended DPP sloganeering turned into a blurting of the UDF slogan and he desperately tried to apologise.


      "I am very sorry for that," stammered a very apologetic Omar "you know when one has just changed names, occasionally you go back to the old one," he added to a deafening crowd that broke into uncontrollable laughter.

      The laughing did not leave out the high table which included the DPP vice President and Agriculture Minister Gwanda Chakuamba, DPP secretary general Ken Zikhale Ng'oma, Central Regional Governor Wakuda Kamanga, former MGODE leader Sam Kandodo Banda.

      Others present were late Kamuzu Banda's grand Nephew Ken Kandodo, Lilongwe City Assembly's Chief Executive Donton Mkandawire, Brian Mungomo, Chief Kaomba, MP Salim Bagus Aaron Sangala and many more.

      Nevertheless, Omar found some semblance of confidence and went on addressing the rally. He advised the followers to desist from gossip peddling and backbiting claiming that this is what killed the UDF.

      Brian Mungomo an international member of DPP who said has established the party's South African branch announced his return claiming that he was chased by the former president Bakili Muluzi because he was undemocratic and never accommodated dissenting views. "The Muluzi government would have sent machetes armed young democrats to terrorise parliament had they raised the impeachment issue during his reign. With Mutharika in power democracy has deepened its roots this is why I am able to come back home," he said.

      Speaking at the same meeting Lilongwe Urban district Governor Moses Mkwaimba thanked the former president Dr Bakili Muluzi for realising that after messing up the economy he decided to find an economist who has now started to put things in order.

      The rally which was staged at Kaliyeka in Area 23, a place where Leader of Opposition and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) President John Tembo conducted his seven days earlier, was designed to counter what Tembo had said, failed to draw a larger bigger crowd than the MCP meeting had pulled.

      Booing from the crowd met the Master of Ceremony's talk of the crowd being larger than the one previously addressed by Tembo.

      Speaking at the same meeting the Area's Senior Chief, Traditional Authority Tsabango who is yet to be installed asked Chakuamba to tell Mutharika that his government needs to improve the security situation in the country. "There is no longer peace in our midst. No day or night passes without hearing that one house has been broken into and the owners injured.

      Kangoma Secondary School which has just been built and is yet to be opened has already been vandalised by burglars," complained the chief.
    • 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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