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  • Christine Chumbler
    Sacked Malawi minister detained Malawian politician Gwanda Chakuamba has been arrested following his sacking last week as a cabinet minister. He has been
    Message 1 of 1046 , Sep 15, 2005
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      Sacked Malawi minister detained

      Malawian politician Gwanda Chakuamba has been arrested following his sacking last week as a cabinet minister.
      He has been detained for questioning over a speech at the weekend in which he predicted that the president would be out of office by Christmas.

      His party's MPs planned to join the opposition to impeach President Bingu wa Mutharika, he had warned.

      He was one of the main opposition candidates in last year's elections but joined a reconciliation government.

      The veteran politician was dismissed as agriculture minister and replaced by the transport deputy minister, Sidiq Mia last week.

      He has served more than a decade in jail for sedition under the late Malawian leader, Hastings Banda.

      Viva Nyimba, Mr Chakuamba's lawyer, said the charge was for a misdemeanour which he said carries a fine of up to $15.

      He described the arrest as political persecution because his client has been denied police bail for what he called "a minor offence".

      *****

      More Than $9 Million Boost to Meet Food Shortages

      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

      September 14, 2005
      Posted to the web September 14, 2005

      Lilongwe

      Drought-stricken Malawi, which has suffered its worst harvest in a decade, is to benefit from more than US $9 million in aid donated by the United Kingdom.

      The government will use a portion of the much-needed funds to secure 60,000 mt of maize from South Africa; the remainder will go to helping the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) feed 3,500 severely malnourished children aged under five each month, and subsidising the sale of high-yield maize seeds to 700,000 farmers, said a British government press release on Tuesday.


      At least 4.2 million Malawians, or 34 percent of the population, are at risk of food shortages. Drought and late delivery of fertilisers and seed have caused the latest food crisis in Malawi.

      Hilary Benn, the British Secretary for International development, noted, "The UK has now provided over $82 million of humanitarian relief to Southern African countries this year, including Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia. We are also looking at proposals for Mozambique, Swaziland and Lesotho. I have written to my EU counterparts to urge them to contribute in response to the UN appeal to this developing problem."

      The British donation is in response to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's appeal to 27 heads of state, the European Commission and the African Development Bank in early August, to raise the alarm over urgent funding to "avert a catastrophe" in drought-stricken southern Africa, particularly Malawi.

      According to the World Food Programme, at least 10.7 million people in the region will need food aid in the lean season, which runs from December to March.

      "At the Millennium Review Summit I will be putting forward the case for a standing fund to deal with humanitarian crises. The UK is willing to give up to $100 million to get it started," Benn announced.

      Goodall Gondwe, Malawi's Minister of Finance, welcomed the British aid, saying, "Our planning to deal with food shortages started in March and food distribution has already begun. We are organised to pick up the pace as the need develops during the year.

      "This further aid from Britain means that we can reserve additional supplies of maize in case the situation worsens, and distribute subsidised seeds alongside the subsidised fertiliser already included in our budget."

      *****

      Fire guts Mulanje Mountain
      by Mark Ndipita, 08 September 2005 - 06:33:08
      Fire has gutted Mulanje Mountain and has been burning for four weeks now sweeping about 570 hectares of Sombani and Chambe plateaux, killing wild animals and damaging trees.
      The Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust (MMCT) said on Tuesday that there was a great possibility that the number of tourists to the mountain might drastically go down because of what it described as unprecedented devastation of the forest.
      MMCT Programmes Officer Hastings Maloya said the negative impact of the fire was not only to the tourism industry but also to the people leaving in the mountain's surrounding areas.
      "Many people depended heavily on the mountain as their source of firewood, food and timber but they would now face tough time," he said.
      Maloya alleged that some hunters started the fire in their bid to corner mice. He accused them of being irresponsible.
      He said there was need for sensitisation in the villages around the mountain for the people to understand that the mountain belongs to them hence they should look after its fauna and flora.
      According to Maloya, the blazing fire cannot in the mountain cannot be controlled because of lack of resources. He said more hectares were going to be destroyed.
      Two weeks ago similar fires damaged 480 hectares in Zomba Mountain and Viphya Plateau in Mzimba district.

      *****

      Maternal deaths scare Malawi
      by Lucas Bottoman, 08 September 2005 - 06:31:00
      An ever-increasing maternal death rate is worrying many Malawians to the extent of thinking that any pregnancy will lead to the death of the child or the mother, Deputy Director of Clinical Services, Jane Namasasu said this week.
      Namasasu said the 2003/04 United Nations projection stated that maternal death rate would drastically increase in Malawi by the year 2005.
      "Currently, there are 1,120 deaths per 100,000 live births, a trend which is quite scaring. However, with joint effort, it is possible to reverse the situation of high maternal mortality, " she said.
      United Nations Population Fund Agency (UNFPA) National Project Officer Anna Chinombo said since 2001 her organisation has been running projects in Mchinji, Dedza and Nkhata Bay aimed at sensitising the communities on how to curb maternal mortality in the country.
      "The results of the project are showing that there is a reduction in maternal mortality, if communities are directly involved in solving the problem. This is evidenced and supported by the fact that one of the villages in the project, called Pitala of Mkanda area in Mchinji only registered one maternal death between 2001-2004," she said.
      According to Chinombo the two major causes of maternal mortality are culture and decision making at community level whereby a pregnant woman has to be allowed by either an uncle or a husband in order to go to hospital.
      Chinombo said Village Health Committees were formed to monitor such practices and were advised to come up with a sure means of transport for taking pregnant women from their villages to the nearest Health Centres in case of emergency.
      There are 232 villages in total where the project is being run, with 80 villages covering Mkanda and Nkhwazi areas in Mchinji, another 80 in Chitowo and Chikuse areas of Dedza district and then 72 in Kande and Mzenga areas of Nkhata Bay.

      *****

      Bingu's entourage to get double allowance
      by Gedion Munthali, 08 September 2005 - 05:30:18
      Government has approved payment of foreign travel allowances at double the normal rate to members of President Bingu wa Mutharika's entourage to the United Nations General Assembly.
      "A recommendation that entourage members be paid foreign travel allowance at double the normal rate has been made to the appropriate authorities and they have since been approved," reads a September 1, 2005 letter from Secretary for Foreign Affairs to the Malawi News Agency, asking for the release of two journalists to cover Mutharika.
      The letter says Mutharika will depart on September 12, 2005 and arrive in New York on September 13, 2005. He will spend six days in New York where he will, among other things, address the General Assembly. He will then depart for London on September 19, 2005. What he will be doing in the English capital has not been specified.
      "In view of this programme, it is expected that media personnel should arrive in New York by September 12, 2005, and thereafter depart New York in accordance to the presidential itinerary," reads the letter.
      The normal rate is $150 per day.
      Foreign Affairs Minister Davis Katsonga defended the double rate allowances on Wednesday.
      "Rules do not come from my ministry," said Katsonga. "Countries are categorised in terms of cost."
      He said the double rate was called for because New York is expensive.
      "Let people not see these allowances as just a luxury," he argued. "You would not want the presidential entourage to reside in the United States version of Malawi's Manyowe," he said referring to a squatter residential area in Blantyre.
      He declined to mention how many people will be part of the entourage.
      Secretary to Treasury Patrick Kabambe declined to comment on whether it was normal to pay people allowances at a double rate.
      "Our job at Treasury is to provide resources, and make sure that they are being used within the approved parameters," said Kabambe.
      He referred the reporter to the Office of the President and Cabinet.
      "They may have sought the approval of OPC in that case," Kabambe said.
      Chief Secretary for the President and Cabinet Bright Msaka, and Chief Secretary for Public Service Charles Matabwa could not be reached for comment.
      Secretary for Human Resource Sam Madula, whose department formulates the allowances, was out of his office. However, a source in the department disclosed that a special rate of one and a half applies for places which are deemed expensive.
      "In this case they should have been paid $225, not $300," said the source.
      This is happening when President Bingu wa Mutharika and the United Nations are appealing for funds for food due to the looming hunger in the country.
      Last month Mutharika launched the Feed the Nation Fund to mitigate the impending hunger while the United Nations this month appealed to the international community to provide nearly K11 billion for food as well as emergency agricultural assistance.

      *****

      Fuel shortages hit hard in Harare

      Fuel queues are the norm in Zimbabwe's capital
      Harare city council has admitted buying black market fuel as shortages severely disrupt their services.
      Town Clerk Nomutsa Chideya told a parliamentary committee that they had fuel for only one fire engine and could not attend to burst pipes.

      Zimbabwe has suffered repeated fuel shortages in recent years because of a lack of foreign currency for imports.

      "We have sunk, we cannot operate effectively," the state-run Herald newspaper quoted him as telling MPs.

      Last week, petrol prices in Zimbabwe doubled .

      Queues

      The council had not received its normal weekly 30,000-litre fuel allocation for a month, Mr Chideya said.

      "For the sake of the health of the residents, we would rather buy the fuel on the parallel market. We will face the consequences later."

      Rising fuel prices worldwide has made it even more difficult for Zimbabweans to import adequate supplies to meet the country's requirements.

      The country is already in the midst of a deep economic crisis, with high unemployment, rampant inflation, and food shortages.

      Queues for fuel and other basic commodities have become a normal way of life.

      *****

      Surviving Zim's law of expediency

      Dianna Games



      13 September 2005 03:00


      The fuel industry is at the mercy of constantly changing government policies. (Photograph: AP)
      After two years of declaring that anyone with "unofficial" foreign currency was an economic saboteur and an enemy of the state, the Zimbabwe government last month said it would "turn a blind eye" to people buying fuel in hard currency.

      In a desperate bid to find new sources of foreign exchange, the government announced that it would be a case of "no questions asked" for people taking advantage of a new arrangement between it and selected garages around the country where fuel, imported by the government, could be bought for $1 a litre, as long as it was paid for in hard currency.

      However, instead of the long queues the government had expected, the response was lukewarm. "I'm not going anywhere near this situation," said one local. "They are probably taking down registration numbers so they know who to arrest when they change the policy."

      Sure enough, it emerged that Reserve Bank representatives would be present at the garages, ostensibly to ensure that the precious US dollars did not go missing. Yet, many believed their real job was to provide the government with a list of targets for when it reversed the policy and such people were once more enemies of the state.

      In present-day Zimbabwe it is often difficult to know which side of the government's "law of expediency" you are on, or what to expect the government to do next. As the crises mount, officialdom has been forced to find creative solutions to problems, a situation that has resulted in breathtaking official U-turns and overnight policy shifts.

      "The government introduces something one day and a few weeks or months later decides it no longer likes the idea and either makes it illegal or drops it," said one businessman. Here are some recent examples:

      * For several years, manufacturers of certain basic goods have been forced to adhere to strict price controls. While this resulted in major shortages of such goods, those flouting the rules were punished. Yet, the finance minister has now declared that price controls do not work and should be abolished;

      * Earlier this year, the government announced a 1 000% increase in school fees, insisting it be backdated to January. Just weeks later, it reversed the backdating order;

      * For years, the president has called anyone suggesting a devaluation of the currency a traitor. But he then introduced a range of "special" rates for exporters, tobacco producers, cotton producers, gold producers and even diaspora remittances, while maintaining the official rate. In mid-2005, the government changed its mind and devalued the currency by 70% over just a few weeks;

      * In August, the government introduced a 10% capital gains tax on the stock exchange, despite the fact that it abolished the very same tax in 2000, saying it was unworkable.

      The government's latest money-making ruse -- the introduction of new number plates -- has been subject to a similar reversal. After Zimbabweans paid Z$30-billion to buy the new mandatory plates, the government decided it wanted to add the letters ZW to the plates. Motorists now have to go through the tortuous exercise again.

      Another tactic is to allow you to get on the right side of the law -- for a price. In the aftermath of Operation Murambatsvina, the campaign that reduced large "illegal" residential areas to rubble, the municipal fee for those in wealthier areas, who needed to "regularise" their house plans with the council to prevent demolition, rose from Z$5 000 to Z$23-million overnight.

      It does not help to be close to the ruling party, as many bankers, targeted for foreign-exchange violations by their former colleague, Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, found out the hard way. Being close to power means those who implement these policy shifts are the very ones who are likely to have the most dirt on you if they need to make an example of people.

      How Bob paid the IMF
      Naturally, Zimbabweans were concerned when the government announced recently that it had managed to "find" $170-million to pay the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the midst of Zimbabwe's worst foreign-currency crisis in decades. The exact source of the money is a well-kept secret, although the rumour mill is in full swing.

      Gideon Gono's line is that the money came from "our savings", despite the fact that the country is technically bankrupt, with no savings to speak of, and inflation was 272% in August, year on year.

      There is speculation that the government is "dipping into" the foreign exchange pool used to fund the twice-weekly auction. The funds are drawn from exporters' profits, 50% of which must be converted into local currency at the official rate, which is significantly less than the black-market rate. Businesses complain that it can take weeks to get currency on the auction, if at all.

      The central bank has instituted more visible measures to raise currency. One of these is the estab-lishment of its own bureaus de change, despite the fact that two years ago the government closed down all such bureaus, accusing them of fuelling the black market.

      Another measure is deliberately delaying the processing of exporters' requests to repatriate foreign currency from their hard-currency profits. If the bank does not approve applications within 21 days of their being submitted, the applicant is forced to convert the currency into Zimbabwe dollars.

      Officials hinted at "generosity" from businesses in the raising of the IMF dues, and there are suggestions that companies have liquidated some of their precious foreign-currency holdings in the national interest.

      Given the shortages, this would seem to be a crazy notion. But word in Harare is that the government offered takers a rate of Z$50 000 to $1 to make the exchange, against the official rate of Z$24 520.

      Another rumour has it that the hard currency has been borrowed from big platinum, cotton and tobacco exporters on the basis that it will be repaid to them when Zimbabwe's ship comes in.

      If Zimbabwe does not take up the South African loan, conditions notwithstanding, the harbour might be empty for a while. Gono has admitted that the promised resources from China will be a long time coming while Iran, which negotiated a $67-million credit facility with Zimbabwe's government recently, has started demanding guarantees.

      Keeping business going in Zimbab-we is a question of second-guessing the government. "Once you understand the political machinations, you can generally get it right," said a Harare banker.

      But getting it right seems to depend on just how desperate the government is. It might have managed to stave off the IMF expulsion, but it is now payback time. Sucking $170-million out the current Zim-babwe economy was no mean feat -- there are a lot of holes that now need to be plugged. Zimbabweans are bracing them-selves for the next policy roller-coaster ride. -- Dianna Games

      *****

      Mugabe hits out at 'coalition of evil'

      United Nations



      15 September 2005 07:40

      Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday blasted what he called a "coalition of evil" as he accused powerful countries of using humanitarian intervention to meddle in the affairs of small and weak nations.

      Mugabe, whose country has been dubbed an "outpost of tyranny" by Washington, cited instances in which "the sovereignty and territorial integrity of small and weak countries have been violated by the mighty and powerful in defiance of provisions of the United Nations charter, even on the basis of contrived lies".

      Those powerful countries are telling "lies told in order to create a basis for aggression", he told the summit of world leaders that opened at the UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday.

      "We have seen that aggression occurred even in the context of the so-called coalition ... A coalition that defies international law becomes an aggressive coalition. It becomes, indeed, a coalition of evil," he added.

      "The vision that we must present for a future UN should not be one filled with vague concepts that provides for an opportunity for those states that seek to interfere in the international affairs of other states," Mugabe said.

      "Concepts such as humanitarian intervention and the responsibility to protect need careful scrutiny in order to test the motives of their proponents," he added.

      He was referring to a plan adopted by the UN General Assembly on Tuesday to enshrine the world's collective responsibility to protect peoples threatened with genocide and to create a new Human Rights Council with real teeth.

      "The current skewed power structures in the world body cannot be condoned on any conceivable ground of democracy. Organs of the UN, including the Security Council, must be restructured to reflect the full will of nations, great or small."

      He warned against allowing wealthy and powerful countries to "dictate the agenda for everybody else".

      A UN report last July estimated that 700 000 people had been left homeless in the Harare government's drive to demolish shacks and homes, market stalls and other buildings mostly in townships and other poor areas.

      The demolition campaign has compounded the country's economic problems including food and fuel shortages, hyperinflation and unemployment at about 70%.

      Relief arrives at last
      Meanwhile, after a six-week delay, Zimbabwean families displaced by Operation Murambatsvina will now receive relief, with 37 tonnes of food and nearly 5 000 blankets having arrived in the country.

      "The last of the supplies arrived on Monday ... after being delayed by six weeks due to agricultural and customs restrictions," the South African Council of Churches (SACC) said in a statement on Wednesday.

      Zimbabwe's Christian Care will now work through Zimbabwe's churches to distribute the relief to families that have been scattered by the forced removals.

      The statement said Christian Care expressed thanks for the SACC's "efforts and resilience" in pursuing the documentation required by the Zimbabwean government.

      As a result of these obstacles, Christian Care has suggested future relief supplies be procured within Zimbabwe, with only goods unobtainable in the country being imported. -- Sapa, Sapa-AFP
    • Christine Chumbler
      ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17 The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by
      Message 1046 of 1046 , May 22, 2006
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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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