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  • Christine Chumbler
    HIV/Aids Turns Developmental The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe) September 7, 2005 Posted to the web September 7, 2005 Gregory Gondwe Lilongwe Officials from
    Message 1 of 1046 , Sep 13, 2005
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      HIV/Aids Turns Developmental

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      September 7, 2005
      Posted to the web September 7, 2005

      Gregory Gondwe
      Lilongwe

      Officials from the National AIDS Commission (NAC) have disclosed that funding for HIV and AIDS projects is said to be delaying because donors are now treating it as a developmental issue.

      John Chipeta, NAC's Monitoring and Evaluation officer told a meeting recently that looked at modalities of tackling the issue from a development perspective that HIV/AIDS is not an urgent issue anymore. "World Bank looks at HIV and AIDS as a developmental problem and everyone has taken suit, but this has come with its own problems especially on funding. Funding HIV and AIDS project is just as good as funding construction of a bridge," he said.


      He said the approach is now different from that accorded to out-breaks like SARS or Bubonic plaque where one can write a proposal and two hours later the money is available.

      He said project proposals for HIV and AIDS takes long to implement because it has to under go a chain of processes like procurement requirements and administrative considerations.

      At the meeting, which took place in Lilongwe and had representatives like the district commissioners, directors of planning and development, director of works and others, participants were told HIV/AIDS work plans must be incorporated in district development plans. "Funding for district HIV/AIDS work plans will be going directly to the districts because government has now made the district commissioners as controlling officers," he said.

      He said a process to empower assemblies will soon start and it will begin with the needs assessment and this will be followed with a creation of data base and all organizations involved with HIV and AIDS will have to report to the district in order to have something for the data storage. "We do not want to continue operating based on a priority up-side down principle," he said.

      He said the Lilongwe City Assembly has created a data base which is blank because organizations were bypassing it and were reporting directly to NAC.

      Chipeta pleaded with the assembly officials to bear with NAC on the delay of implementing what was contained in their development plans.

      *****

      'Role of City Chiefs' Debate Rages On

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      September 7, 2005
      Posted to the web September 7, 2005

      Dickson Kashoti
      Lilongwe

      Twenty-seven-year old Peter Chikaonda Phiri knew nothing about the so called city chiefs or community block leaders until last week when he was summoned in Lilongwe's Area 24 to answer charges of bad manners and not respecting a funeral.

      On a Sunday, he woke up early in the morning from his home in Area 22 to buy opaque beer in Area 24 for his nephew's Classic Pub.


      He walked the three kilometre distance and did not realize that there was a funeral elsewhere.

      After buying the crates of beer, he put on his hat, carried the beer and started off until someone flagged him to stop.

      The gentleman asked him: "Where do you come from?" after explaining that he comes from Lototoni Village in Chief Chikowi's area, he was asked another question, "where you come from, what do you do when you see branches of leaves on a road?"

      This is when Chikaonda Phiri realized that he had committed a crime. He did not take off his hat when he was walking past a house where there was a funeral.

      He was taken to community block leaders who heard his case.

      Fresh controversy has arisen on the role of community block leaders popularly known as city chiefs following their involvement in land allocation and settling of disputes.

      This follows the controversial land allocation in Lilongwe's Area 50 where the government said it was illegal for the community block leaders to allocate the land and gave the residents two weeks to demolish the structures.

      The Minister of Local Government and Rural Development George Chaponda said community block leaders have no powers to allocate land, saying that is the responsibility of assemblies and the Ministry of Land.

      He also said that community block leaders have no powers to settle disputes, saying that is the responsibility of courts of law and the police.

      He said the Town Planning and Country Act do not recognize chiefs in cities.

      "This is because customary land falls under the jurisdiction of traditional chiefs. However, when customary land becomes public land by virtue of towns, they are called community block leaders," he said.

      He said community block leaders, who are elected for a five year term, preside over social events like funerals and weddings. "They should not settle disputes. That is not their role. They are not chiefs, they are community block leaders," he emphasized.

      Chaponda also said that community block leaders should work with members of parliament in their respective areas for development projects.

      However, some people expressed concern that community block leadership should be abolished, arguing that cities are multi-tribal places with different diverse tradition and culture.

      Argued Samson Mpini of Lilongwe: "Although the government says community block leaders are not supposed to preside over cases, they still do that due to lack of capacity of our courts and the police. "Therefore it can be argued that they take the role of chiefs which is not on. We do not need them," he said.

      But his argument has started a debate on the issue. Should cities have chiefs?

      Some residents in some townships claim that robbery is on the increase in their areas because community block leaders have been stripped of their powers and want the government to give more powers to the leaders.

      Lucy Banda, 58, of Area 22 in Lilongwe said in the past, robbers feared community block leaders, especially after there was leadership vacuum following the fall of Kamuzu Banda regime which had youth leaguers and Malawi Young Pioneers who enforced law and order in communities. "We cannot rely on the police and the courts. There are very few police officers in the country and it takes ages for cases to be heard in courts. People want instant justice and the city chiefs did just that," said Banda.

      But Chikaonda Phiri had to face a panel of the five chiefs to hear his case of bad manners and not respecting the funeral rites. "There were yao, lomwe and Tumbuka chiefs. I feared that if convicted, I could be asked to dig a grave, or they could give me any punishment, probably they could humiliate me to teach me a lesson," he said.

      He had to quick fast. He lied that he saw the branches of leaves on the road but did not think that there was a funeral because soon after the leaves, there was a minibus so he thought the leaves meant the car had broken down.

      After telling him the advantages of respecting tradition and culture, he was acquitted but when the person who reported the matter to the community block leaders was informed of the judgement, he looked unimpressed. Nevertheless he respected the leaders' decision and asked for a packet of beer, which he was instantly given.

      Government needs to formulate clear-cut rules of how community block leaders need to discharge their duties, otherwise one day they will take over the role of both the police and magistrates courts.

      *****

      Political Virus Eating Up DPP - Tembo

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      September 7, 2005
      Posted to the web September 7, 2005

      Pilirani Phiri
      Lilongwe

      Malawi Cong-ress Party (MCP) President John Tembo says there is a political virus slowly eating up President Bingu wa Mutharika's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which if not checked, will see the party 'developing full political blown Aids'.

      Speaking exclusively to The Chronicle on Wednesday at his Area 10 house in Lilongwe, Tembo said recent reports that Irrigation and Water Development Minister Gwanda Chakuamba who is also DPP Vice President has threatened to dump DPP is clear sign all is not well in both the government and DPP.


      "Mutharika is not in control of the state machinery but some people else who can even give such threats. The differences between Chakuamba and Mutharika are a sign that all is not well in DPP, "There is a political virus eating up the party and soon the whole DPP will develop full blown Aids," said Tembo.

      The MCP also said his party will not join forces with President Mutharika's government even if Chakuamba, regarded as Tembo's political sworn enemy, ditches government to rejoin his Republican Party (RP), a party he formed in the run up to the 2009 elections. "MCP will never ever work with President Mutharika's DPP. MCP will remain to be MCP," said Tembo.

      Reports said last week that Chakuamba furiously walked out of a meeting he had with President Mutharika at Zomba State House where Chakuamba is said to have told Mutharika that he (Chakuamba) was resigning from cabinet and also pulling out of DPP because the President ' is failing to honour his promises'.

      Asked to comment on Mary Nangwale's defiance to continue working as Inspector General although the courts recently upheld her rejection, Tembo said it would be good if she stopped working. "The best thing she can do is to pack up her bags and leave Area 30 and then do her appealing from home," said Tembo.

      He said in 2001, Parliament expelled him for contempt of court and obeyed and worked on his appeal from home until he was reinstated as MP along side Kate Kainja who is now Minister of Education.

      A local daily recently captured Nangwale carrying her duties at a function in Blantyre, a few days after the court's ruling.

      *****

      FNF Executive Sidelines Women

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      September 7, 2005
      Posted to the web September 7, 2005

      Chikondi Chiyembekeza
      Lilongwe

      The Feed the Nation Fund (FNF) 16- member executive committee appointed by President Bingu wa Mutharika, to oversee operations of the fund, has only two women, a move described by women activists as retrogressive.

      Malawi is a signatory to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) declaration that encourages governments to have at least a 30 percent women representation in decision-making positions.


      This means that the country has to comply with the SADC declaration.

      The just ended SADC summit in Botswana this month reaffirmed its stance to include more women in high positions of authority.

      Mutharika has always said that the 30 percent requirement is not even enough. He says what the country requires is a 50 percent representation for women in authoritative positions so that they are at par with men.

      However, the FNF committee is only represented by two women, Margaret Kubwalo, who is the Public Relations and Marketing Manager for Stanbic Bank and Grace Maseko of the Feed the Child Malawi. The rest are men.

      Commenting on the less representation of women in the FNF, the Executive Director of the Society for the Advancement of Women (SAW) Catherine Muthali told The Chronicle in an interview this week, it is very disappointing to note that more women were not included in the committee.

      "This is a reflection of lack of political will on the part of the president. We don't know what to do," said Munthali.

      She said the president earlier promised that he would like to reach the 50 percent mark and by sidelining women, she said "the president is swallowing his own words."

      Munthali said it is up to Mutharika to explain why he has decided not to include more women in the committee.

      "We expect the president to change. This is a big problem," said Munthali, sounding dejected.

      Another woman resident of Lilongwe, Mary Phiri said it was a great disappointment to learn that only two women were included in the FNF committee.

      "That is not exemplary," she said, adding: "In the first place, the president gave us the impression that he considers women when he said that he was not satisfied with the number of women who are in decision-making positions."

      Phiri said this clearly shows that the president is reneging on his previous stance, which, she said, is not good at all in his endeavour to uplift the status of women in the country.

      Last week, the president appointed former Chief Justice Richard Banda to be the Chairman of the Fund.

      Other notable members include the Press Corporation Limited (PCL) Chief Executive Officer, Professor Matthews Chikaonda, Hatesh Anadhkat, the CEO of First Merchant Bank (FMB), Michael Graham of Limbe Leaf Tobacco, Michael Usi, a popular radio dramatist who works for Adventist Relief Agency (ADRA), Faizal Latif of Mapeto David Whitehead and Sons and two ex-official members, Minister of Agriculture Uladi Mussa and Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe.

      *****

      Govt Initiates Zambezi Waterway Project Study

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      September 7, 2005
      Posted to the web September 7, 2005

      Dickson Kashoti
      Lilongwe

      The government has defied calls from the opposition to drop plans of opening the Shire-Zambezi Waterway project instead it is initiating a comprehensive assessment of the channel crossing the Chiromo and Shire North bridges in Nsanje before the project takes off.

      A statement from the Ministry of Transport and Public Works is requesting, through advertisements in the press, for expressions of interest to carry out what it calls a comprehensive hydrologic and geomorphic assessment of the channel system crossing the two bridges.


      President Bingu wa Mutharika announced this year that his administration has plans to open the waterway, which is going to cost over K100 billion with funding from donors as way of improving the country's transport system.

      He said the project would directly affect people living around Chiromo in Nsanje which would eventually turn into a city and those living along the Shire River and Lake Malawi because their businesses would be boosted.

      But opposition party officials described the idea as a non starter saying the government should instead improve the existing Mtwara and Nacala Corridors.

      The statement from the Ministry of Transport and Public Works says at Shire North station, where the railway crosses the Shire River, the Southern railway embankment is at risk from the variable and unpredictable nature of Shire River.

      "The embankment is under threat due to a gradual change in the direction of the river. The river has meandered substantially from its original course, such that that its flow is now directly facing the southern approach to the four span bridge.

      "The encroachment farming activities into the river embankment is worsening this change in direction. This is likely to result in a washout of the track and embankment," says the statement.

      Minister of Information and Tourism Patricia Kaliati says the project is not just another pipe dream as described by the opposition, saying the government has a lobbyist at New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) which is a potential donor of the project.

      She said she was hopeful that the project will take off as soon as funds are sourced.

      *****

      World Vision Brings Hope to Nkhatabay Youth

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      September 7, 2005
      Posted to the web September 7, 2005

      Zondani Mbale
      Lilongwe

      Youth in Nkhatabay will no longer have to sit idle following the construction of a K2 million worth youth center by World Vision International in the district.

      Among activities expected to be taking place at the center will be the training of youth on vocational skills, peer education and counseling on HIV/AIDS, religious education, life skills and many more.


      The youth center, which is at an advanced stage, will cater for fifteen youth organizations currently operational in the district. It will also encourage the establishment of new groups.

      Speaking in an interview on Thursday, Chikwina /Mpamba Area Development Programme Manager, Annie Kumwenda said experience in the district has shown that most youths were idle - a thing that led to some of them indulging in promiscuous behavior, which often lead to them contracting HIV/AIDS.

      "It also came out clearly that the youth were in dire need of vocational skills hence we decided to come in and construct the youth center," said Kumwenda.

      At the center, there would be a resource center where the youths will be able to access Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) facilities and a library to help develop a reading culture. "We realize that these youths have completed their secondary or tertiary education but many of them haven't been exposed to newspapers.

      They need to be updated on political and economic issues in the country," she said.

      She added: "We also intend to intensify food security in Nkhatabay by way of providing farm inputs to these youth. We realize that the youth will indeed be kept busy at the center but that, at the end of the day they will need food, hence this program."

      The organization also intends to drill youth on vocational skills such as carpentry, brick laying, computer operation and tinsmithing.

      Kumwenda said her organization would want to promote youth bands in the district that convey HIV/AIDS messages to people through songs. "We are buying musical equipment for them and a will install a public address system for the youth at the center. We want to buy TV screens and DVDs so that they have a chance to watch HIV/AIDS films," Kumwenda said

      She added that providing them with such things would, in the long run influence behavioral change amongst the youth.

      World Vision intends to buy thirty sewing machines for the center and train youth so that at the end of the day they are able to generate money for themselves.

      She indicated that the center has been warmly welcomed by the youth in the district. She cited the great commitment by the community leaders and the youths themselves.

      "Community leaders have been very helpful. They are able to mobilize youth to help in the construction of the center and this has greatly encouraged us. They really have a sense of ownership," she said.

      She said the communities have also contributed to the center by molding bricks and collecting sand for the construction.

      Sixteen-year-old Glory Nyasulu, an excited resident says he anticipates that the youth center would be a beehive of activity for the youths of Nkhatabay.

      "A youth center is something the youth here have for a long time been looking forward to and credit should go to World Vision International for their kind gesture," she said.

      She adds: "This would be a very helpful center where the youth would be groomedinto responsible citizens for this country."

      Nyasulu says crime rate too would be brought down saying idleness among most youth in the district had exacerbated incidences.


      *****

      Zim minister warns of takeover of white-owned firms

      Harare, Zimbabwe

      13 September 2005 10:25

      A Cabinet minister in Zimbabwe has warned the government may take over white-owned firms in an exercise similar to actions under Harare's five-year-old land-reform programme, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.

      Minister of Transport Chris Mushohwe told a business conference in the mountain resort of Nyanga last week that the government could seize companies owned or run by whites, the privately run Daily Mirror reported.

      "Most of these companies do not want to give us equity. We might decide to take over these companies just like we did during the land-reform exercise," Mushohwe was quoted as telling the conference.

      Zimbabwe's economy has been in rapid decline since the launch of the land-reform programme, which has cut production in the key agricultural sector.

      Last Friday, Mugabe signed into law controversial amendments to the Constitution that will make it impossible for the 4 000 or so white farmers who have lost their land to contest the takeovers in court.

      The Daily Mirror said black executives attending the conference, organised by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), were unimpressed by the transport minister's comments.

      "What signals does this send to investors?" one executive was quoted as asking.

      The changes to Zimbabwe's Constitution also promote "affirmative action" in favour of "persons who have been previously disadvantaged by unfair discrimination".

      Economists say the new land laws, which also give ownership of all agricultural land to the state, will drive off foreign investment.

      But the paper said Minister of Finance Herbert Murerwa told the CZI conference that the amendments to the Constitution were not a threat to commerce and industry.

      "The intention [of the constitutional amendments] was to confirm the acquisition of land that had already been taken anyway. We have never said that this would apply to other forms of business," Murerwa said.

      It was not immediately clear how many whites still own businesses. A recent population census revealed that whites and Asians make up 0,5% of the country's 11,6-million people. -- Sapa-DPA
    • Christine Chumbler
      ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17 The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22 8:06 AM
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        ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract

        by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17

        The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by government to look for another contractor instead of China Hunan Construction to construct of the long awaited Karonga/Chitipa road.

        China Hunan from Mainland China won the bid which was approved by the ADB but government later wanted to award the contract to a Portuguese firm, Mota Engil, the second lowest bidder, claiming China Hunan's bid was unrealistically low and that the company had very little experience in Africa.

        Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe confirmed on Sunday the ADB rejected the proposal at a meeting held between the bank and Malawi government in Tunisia last week.

        The Malawi government wanted the Tunisia meeting to authorise it to get another contractor for the road, said Gondwe.

        "They did not allow us to look for another contractor because of their regulations. But we are about to get another alternative for Karonga/Chitipa and I would be surprised if it does not start before end June," said Gondwe.

        The minister explained that the bank insisted that regardless of the unrealistic cost estimates, China Hunan should be allowed to go ahead with the construction.

        But Gondwe could not give further details about the alternatives, arguing there are still a few loose ends to tighten up before disclosing it.

        The problem with China Hunan, according to Gondwe, is that it would require more money to meet the total cost of the project.

        This paper reported last week that government met Taiwanese representatives where they offered to fund the road if the ADB continued to reject its favoured contractor, Mota Engil.

        Gondwe could neither confirm nor deny the reports on the Taiwanese offer, saying government was looking at a number of ways to handle the issue.

        According to Gondwe, the China Hunan's bid was 24 percent lower than the consulting engineers' estimates of K7.9 billion and 34 percent below the second lowest bidder.

        President Bingu wa Mutharika laid a foundation stone for the construction of the road this year ahead of a crucial byelection in Chitipa in December last year.

        The President's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the Chitipa Wenya constituency by-election that fell vacant following the collapse and subsequent death of Speaker of Parliament Rodwell Munyenyembe who belonged to the UDF.

        Last week, police and the District Commissioner (DC) for Chitipa stopped a rally that was aimed at soliciting people's views about development projects in the district.

        The meeting, which was reportedly organised by Concerned Citizens of Chitipa, was among other things also supposed to tackle the controversial Karonga/Chitipa road.

        The project failed to start off in 2000 when a contract for an initial loan of US$17 million and US$15 million from the Taiwanese government was signed, with some quarters claiming the Bakili Muluzi administration diverted the money to another road.

        *****

        Chihana operated on

        by Edwin Nyirongo, 22 May 2006 - 06:32:31

        Alliance for Democracy (Aford) president Chakufwa Chihana, who is in South Africa receiving treatment, had a brain operation on Friday at Garden City Clinic, family and party officials confirmed on Sunday.

        Aford national chairman Chipimpha Mughogho said he was told by the family members that Chihana had a successful operation on Friday and was put in an intensive care unit.

        Mughogho said Chihana, who initially complained of headache, was found with a brain tumour which South African doctors removed.

        Mzimba West MP Loveness Gondwe said Aford boss condition was stable.

        "Hon. Chihana had a major operation and after that he was put in the intensive care unit but his condition is stable. I do not know where he was operated on but it had something to do with the skull," she said.

        Deputy Information Minister John Bande referred the matter to the Health Minister Hetherwick Ntaba who was reported to be in Geneva, Switzerland.

        Aford publicity secretary Norman Nyirenda said when Chihana's situation got worse, the family alerted the Office of the President and Cabinet who took him to Mwaiwathu Private Hospital.

        "The doctors at Mwaiwathu advised that he should be sent to South Africa and they even identified the doctor for him," he said.

        He said the costs are being met by the Malawi government, contradicting his earlier statement that his boss covered the cost.

        Mughogho is now in charge of the party.

        Gondwe will be a busy person when Parliament starts meeting on June 6 as she is the only Aford MP remaining.

        *****

        Pillane proposes presidential age limit

        by Emmanuel Muwamba , 22 May 2006 - 06:34:13

        A member of the DPP National Governing Council Abdul Pillane on Saturday urged members of political parties and the civil society to put an upper age limit in the Constitution for presidential candidates.

        Pillane was addressing members of political parties and civil society in Liwonde during a two-day follow up workshop to the National Conference on the Review of Constitution held in March in Lilongwe.

        "My view is that (an upper) age limit should be at 75. We have to give a chance to younger people to lead because in circumstance, when you age you become forgetful especially when sickly," said Pillane. "Overall, chances should be given to young people."

        But UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala, whose party members agitated for the age limit during presentations, played the issue down.

        "I feel there is no logic to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates. If someone is 90 or 80 I don't know how that can influence the electorate not to vote for someone who is younger, I don't see any logic behind that," said Makwangwala.

        MCP participants at the workshop also vehemently objected to the proposal.

        MCP vice president Nicholas Dausi in an interview said: "There is no constitution in Africa which stipulates an upper age limit. So it would be strange in Malawi to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates."

        MDP President Kamlepo Kalua also opposed the need to have an upper age limit.

        "If we have personalities in mind that we want to discriminate against then it is unfortunate. The constitution we want to build is a guiding document for future generations and it should not bar certain individuals on the basis of grudges," he said.

        The Malawi Law Constitution Issues Paper of March 2006 says several submissions that were received put an upper presidential age limit in the Constitution.

        "It is argued that it is common sense that mental knowledge faculties tend to fail with age. As regards what the actual age limit should be the submissions are far from being agreed. The range is from 60 years to 80 years," read submissions in the Issues Paper.

        On whether MPs should double as ministers, Kalua said this should be the case.

        Makwangwala also said it is not right for MPs to serve as ministers because the Legislature, another arm of government, is reduced while the Executive branch is beefed up from another arm of government.

        "There is no separation of powers when MPs double as ministers," said Makwangwala.

        But Pillane said there is no problem for MPs to work as ministers as well, saying MPs are elected by the President.

        "One can serve both posts. There have been no problems before for people to double," said Pillane.

        The Centre for Multiparty Democracy funded the workshop through the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.

        The objective was to come up with a collective position on the Issues Paper which will be presented to the Special Law Commission that will be constituted soon.

        *****

        Mussa hails new driving licence

        by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:58:52

        Transport and Public Works Minister Henry Mussa last week said the design of the Malawi-Sadc driving licence would guard against forgery and ensure that only skilled and legitimate drivers of particular vehicles are licensed.

        Mussa was speaking at the official launch of the licences in Lilongwe where he announced that traffic police would from July enforce speed limits and sober driving using Breathalysers which his ministry is in the process of procuring.

        The minister said financial constraints are the reason for the delay in procuring the equipment but assured that by July they would be available.

        "With the new equipment, the days of those who believe in the thrill of drink and driving are numbered," warned Mussa.

        Mussa added that with the new licence, government is optimistic that the country's roads would be safe.

        Acting Director of Road Traffic James Chirwa said the features that distinguish the new from the old licences are the Malawi national flag and a ghost image of the driver's photograph, among others.

        Those with old licences, according to Chirwa, are expected to get the new ones after the expiry of the former.

        *****

        UDF demands investigation on Kasambara

        by Rabecca Theu, 22 May 2006 - 06:30:46

        The United Democratic Front (UDF) has asked government to investigate Ralph Kasambara on allegations of abuse of office while he was attorney general.

        UDF publicity secretary Sam Mpasu told the press Sunday that the party is neither amused or saddened by the removal of the former AG but asked government to institute investigations on Kasambara.

        "Beyond the removal of the Attorney General, we now urge President Mutharika to institute investigation against Mr Kasambara into allegations that have made rounds in the public domain during the recent past. These include: Mrs Helen Singh and SS Rent-a-Car; SGS and ITS saga; ...........the use of Malawi Police Service in the arrest of three Chronicle journalists and the handling of Mrs Rubina Kawonga," said Mpasu.

        Mpasu also accused Kasambara of awarding government contracts to Lawson and Company where he was a senior partner.

        "We urge government to thoroughly investigate the former AG. We also ask government to cautiously select the new AG ," said Mpasu, who was accompanied by the party's Secretary General Kennedy Makwangwala, leader of the party in Parliament George Mtafu, chief whip Leonard Mangulama and a member of the executive Hophmally Makande.

        But Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati said UDF should give offer its advice to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB).

        "They should advise bodies like the Anti-Corruption Bureau to conduct the investigations and why are they saying this now? Is it because Kasambara has been fired? This is not a personal issue. If they have other pressing issues they should just say so. These arguments should have come up earlier on when the said cases were happening," she said.

        Kasambara asked UDF to proceed with the mission of urging government to investigate him.

        "They can do their job. Everyone has a right to lobby for anything they want in the country. UDF has a right to do that, let them go ahead," he said.

        Kasambara was relieved of his duties as AG by the President last week. Government has not given reasons behind the removal.

        *****

        Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land

        The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

        May 18, 2006

        Posted to the web May 19, 2006

        Andrew Lungu

         

        MALAWIANS who have encroached on both the 'no-man's' and part of the Zambian land at the Mwami border in Eastern Province have plucked out some beacons that were used in the demarcation of the border.

        The Malawians are now using the beacons as stools in their newly-established villages on Zambian land.

        Eastern Province Minister, Boniface Nkhata, said in Chipata yesterday that if the situation was not controlled urgently, Zambia would lose huge tracts of land to Malawians migrating into Zambian in large numbers.

        A check at the Zambia-Malawi border showed a number of beacons had been vandalised and new structures constructed on the 'no man's' land and a large portion of Zambian land.

        Mr Nkhata said the trend extended to many parts of the province bordering the two countries.

        "A large portion of Zambian land has been taken up by the Malawians starting from the Chama boundary up to the Mwami border.

        "The weighbridge at the Mwami border was initially in Zambia from the time both countries gained independence from Britain, but now the bridge is on Malawian soil," Mr Nkhata said.

        The minister, who is former Chama District Commissioner, said there was similar encroachment in Lundazi and Chama districts where Zambia shares a boundary with Malawi.

        He said a Malawian farmer identified as Mr Mfune had cultivated 71.5 hectares on Zambian land and employed about 265 Malawian workers.

        "Khombe Farm in Chama district in Kanyerere's area, along the Muyombe road which leads to Northern Province where this Malawian farmer has cultivated a vast land is on the Zambian territory," he said.

        Workers on the farm admitted that they were farming on Zambian soil but could not go back to Malawi because the land in that country was inadequate for cultivation.

        Mr Nkhata appealed to the ministry of Lands to urgently release money for the demarcation of the Zambia-Malawi border to avoid further land disputes between the two countries.

        Meanwhile, the Immigration Department in Livingstone has arrested a couple and another man, all Zimbabweans, for working in Zambia without permits.

        They were arrested at Gwembe village yesterday where they worked for Into Africa, a tour operating company that provides bush dinners and breakfast.

        According to the Immigration Department in Livingstone, the trio entered Zambia through the Victoria Falls border as visitors but decided to work for the company illegally.

        Last week, immigration officers arrested 10 Zimbabwean traders and six Ethiopians for entering and staying in Zambia illegally.

        The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.

        The Ethiopians were arrested at Konje Guest House when they ran out of money to proceed to Botswana.

         

        *****

        Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests

        Harare, Zimbabwe

        22 May 2006 11:51

        Zimbabwe's biggest labour federation on Saturday threatened to call massive demonstrations against the government over poor salaries and worsening living conditions for workers in the country.

        The threats are ratcheting up pressure against President Robert Mugabe's government after similar threats by the biggest opposition party in the country, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), about two months ago.

        Speaking at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) conference on Saturday, the labour body's president, Lovemore Matombo, said the powerful union wants the government to award workers salaries that match the country's ever-rising inflation.

        "I can assure you we will stage massive demonstrations to force them [employers] to award workers minimum salaries that tally with the poverty datum line," said Matombo.

        Matombo did not say when exactly the ZCTU would order workers to strike.

        Opposition protests

        Meanwhile, the MDC on Sunday said it will push ahead with plans for anti-government protests, saying victory in a key by-election at the weekend was a "sign the electorate supported its policies", including democratic mass resistance.

        A spokesperson of the main faction of the splintered MDC, Nelson Chamisa, said victory over Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF and a rival MDC faction in a Saturday by-election in Harare's Budiriro constituency is a sign Zimbabweans still have confidence in party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his policies.

        Tsvangirai, the founding leader of the MDC, heads the main rump of the opposition party whose candidate, Emmanuel Chisvuure, polled 7 949 votes to win the Budiriro House of Assembly seat.

        Gabriel Chaibva of the other faction of the MDC, led by prominent academic Arthur Mutambara, garnered 504 votes while Zanu-PF's Jeremiah Bvirindi polled 3 961 votes.

        "This election showed that the electorate still has confidence in the MDC [Tsvangirai-led] leadership and its policies," Chamisa told independent news service ZimOnline.

        He added: "We will now move to consolidate our position * we still believe in mass protests. Until we have attained our goals we see no reason why we should abandon [plans for protests]."

        Tsvangirai has threatened to call mass protests this winter against Mugabe and his government. He says the mass protests, whose date he is still to name, are meant to force Mugabe to relinquish power to a government of national unity to be tasked to write a new and democratic Constitution that would ensure free and fair elections held under international supervision.

        Mugabe and his government, who had hoped for victory in Budiriro to show they were recapturing urban support from a splintered MDC, have not taken idly the opposition's threats to call mass protests, with the veteran president warning Tsvangirai he would be "dicing with death" if he ever attempted to instigate a Ukraine-style popular revolt in Zimbabwe.

        Crackdown

        In a fresh crackdown against dissension, the police last week arrested several church and civic leaders for organising public prayers and marches to mark last year's controversial home-demolition exercise by the government.

        The police also banned the marches and prayers, fearing they could easily turn into mass protests against Mugabe and his government.

        However, the marches went ahead in the second-largest city of Bulawayo after organisers had obtained a court order barring the police from stopping the march.

        Political analysts say although Zimbabweans have largely been cowed by Mugabe's tactics of routinely deploying riot police and the military to crush street protests, worsening hunger and poverty are fanning public anger that Tsvangirai -- with proper planning and organisation -- could easily manipulate.

        Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe six-year old economic crisis that has seen inflation breaching the 1 000% barrier. Last year, the World Bank said Zimbabwe's economic crisis was unprecedented for a country not at war.

        The MDC and major Western governments blame Mugabe for wrecking the country's economy, which was one of the strongest in Africa at independence from Britain 26 years ago.

        Mugabe denies the charge blaming the crisis on sabotage by Britain and her allies after he seized white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks six years ago.

        The Harare authorities recently hiked salaries for civil servants, with the lowest-paid soldier now earning about Z$27-million while the lowest-paid school teacher now takes home about Z$33-million.

        But the salaries are still way below the poverty datum line, which the government's Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says now stands at a staggering Z$42-million a month for an average family of six.

        The Zimbabwe government often accuses the ZCTU, a strong ally of the MDC, of pushing a political agenda to remove Mugabe from power.

        Meanwhile, Matombo and Lucia Matibenga retained their posts as president and first vice-president respectively during the ZCTU congress that ended on Saturday. -- ZimOnline

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