Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

news

Expand Messages
  • Christine Chumbler
    Malawi: Irrigation Brings Hope to the Drought-Hit South UN Integrated Regional Information Networks October 7, 2005 Posted to the web October 7, 2005 Nsanje In
    Message 1 of 1046 , Oct 11, 2005
    • 0 Attachment
      Malawi: Irrigation Brings Hope to the Drought-Hit South

      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

      October 7, 2005
      Posted to the web October 7, 2005

      Nsanje

      In the arid landscape of Malawi's drought-hit southern Nsanje district there is a 12 ha lush-green field of maize that will be harvested by the end of November; it is perhaps the only food output in the district in many months.

      The farm is part of a pilot irrigation scheme called Sapatongwe, watered by the perennial Shire river that flows through the drought-prone district for at least 200 km.


      Although Damson Chapo's village is near the river, he pointed out that "we all depend on the rain - we don't have resources to use water from the river. There was no rainfall this year - all our crops died".

      Ironically, almost all of Malawi's 27 districts have access to a body of water - a river or one of the country's five lakes - noted R P Mwadiwa, permanent secretary in the ministry of agriculture and irrigation.

      "Malawi can emerge out of the endless cycle of drought tomorrow if the country harnesses its water resources to irrigate its crops," said Evance Chavasuka of the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning System Network.

      According to Antonella D'Aprile, spokeswoman for the UN's World Food Programme (WFP), "only two percent of Malawi's arable land is under irrigation."

      WFP established Sapatongwe in August this year to help small-scale farmers break the seemingly endless cycle of drought. Malawi is in its fourth year of failed rains and the WFP has warned that five million people could be in need of food aid in the coming months.

      The scheme, about 200 km from the commercial capital, Blantyre, has received support in kind from the Malawian government and the Irish NGO, GOAL, with funding from the European Union.

      "We have shown that with very little resources we can secure a good harvest, even in the middle of a desert," said D'Aprile. The scheme is a cooperative venture between 96 farmers from vulnerable households who have dug canals from the river to their fields.

      Another section of the field is irrigated with water pumped from the river. "This is of course more expensive, as you need to buy fuel for the pumps; we wanted to show the farmers that they had many options," said GOAL's Amos Zaindi.

      At the end of the harvest in November the NGOs will hand over the scheme to the community and hope that it is duplicated along the river.

      The Malawian government had already started developing other irrigation schemes, said Mwadiwa. "We intend to achieve food self-sufficiency within the next two years; we are going to do whatever it takes - irrigation schemes, distribution of seeds - everything it takes to ensure that."

      Low-tech treadle pumps that rely on human energy have been handed out to all members of parliament to distribute in their constituencies. "We are concentrating on such small- to medium-scale efforts which require little resources but can benefit a greater number of people," Mwadiwa noted.

      But while the country and its partners look for long-term solutions, hunger looms over Malawi. More than 3,000 people from over 80 villages queue for the monthly WFP rations that GOAL distributes at a school in Nsanje town.

      Each person receives a 50 kg bag of maize, which only covers half the daily adult calorie requirement, according to D'Aprile. WFP has been battling with limited resources and has appealed for pulses and oil to be able to provide a portion of the necessary additional nutrition.

      "This food will only last us two weeks," said a gaunt Nyamuthambo Zuze, who heads a household of eight people, including six children. Between rations the villages depend on the Shire for its nyika (water lilies).

      "We trust our fate to God each time we dive into the water for the water lilies," said Zuze. The river's crocodiles have claimed two such divers from the village in recent months. The water lilies are boiled and the starchy content is pounded into a porridge.

      The faces in the queue look tired. Gwire Fero, 56, has been looking after three orphans aged between three and six years since their parents died of AIDS last year.

      He is weak, yet smiles and says, "I have to be strong. When we have no food we live on green bananas." Fero had walked for four hours from his village that morning to join the queue. "I need the food for the children."

      A few kilometres away in a government-run Nutritional Rehabilitation Unit (NRU), another grandfather helps his eight-year-old grandaughter, Malit Antonio, who is recovering from acute malnutrition, to take a therapeutic drink. Malit is among more than 20 children the unit is treating for hunger-related illnesses.

      During their stay at the NRU the guardians are taught kitchen gardening skills and receive a take-home gardening kit and vegetable seeds provided by the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation when they leave.

      The NRU recorded 29 deaths between January and September this year. "It is not an unusual number - we record similar figures every year in this area, where malnutrition is a chronic problem. But in the last month alone we recorded eight deaths, which was high," said Nsanje district health officer Medson Semba.

      "It is not that nothing is being done - we are treating people, food is being distributed - but one can only assume that it is not enough," he added.

      In August the UN appealed for US $88 million to respond to the hunger crisis in Malawi; so far, donors have contributed or pledged just over $15 million.


      *****

      Chiwaya quits government
      by Emmanuel Muwamba and Henry Chilobwe, 10 October 2005 - 05:27:55
      Minister for People with Disabilities Clement Chiwaya has resigned from Cabinet, saying he wants to serve the people that elected him better.
      Government has meanwhile said Chiwaya is only exercising his constitutional freedom.
      Chiwaya announced the resignation at Mangochi Community Centre Ground on Sunday where UDF national chairman Bakili Muluzi addressed a rally.
      Chiwaya, also a Member of Parliament for Mangochi Central, told the gathering that he has always been a faithful member of the UDF despite being a Cabinet minister.
      "People have been asking me which side I am but I tell you I am UDF. Starting from today I have resigned from Cabinet. I want to serve you people who elected me better," said Chiwaya.
      Reacting to the resignation, Deputy Information Minister John Bande said Malawi is a democratic nation in which people are free to decide their own destiny. He said by resigning from government Chiwaya "has not made any enemies but has just exercised his freedom".
      Muluzi praised Chiwaya for taking the brave decision saying there are only few principled individuals. He said the other two are Bob Khamisa and Lilian Patel.
      Muluzi also distanced himself from the much-touted impeachment, arguing his main interest is that the nation should have enough food and fertilizer for crop production.
      He called on MPs to query government why it removed the starter pack programme as well as how it has used over K10 billion that was set aside for the fertilizer subsidy and the purchase of maize for needy families.
      "MPs must ask where the money is because if nothing is done, a lot of people will surely die from hunger by January next year," said Muluzi.
      Also speaking during the same rally, fired Republican Party national chairman Gwanda Chakuamba announced he will bounce back into politics with full force as he intends to form his own party next week.
      He said his party will work with other opposition parties "to restore order" that is currently missing in the country.
      "If those who dismissed me from their party and others thought I am finished, they must forget it. I have a lot of followers. If there are some RP MPs who do not follow me then its only one or two but the majority of them will follow me to my new party," said Chakuamba.
      Former DPP Secretary General Ken Zikhale Ng'oma, who came into the media spotlight for making scathing remarks against Muluzi at former Speaker of Parliament Rodwell Munyenyembe's funeral, apologised for the speech he made.
      He said he has realised that Muluzi is a good person but President Mutharika is untrustworthy.
      Meanwhile, Capital Radio failed to broadcast the rally live due to technical faults with the station's terrestial transmitters atop Mpingwe Hill in Blantyre.
      Director Alaudin Osman said Sunday the station's engineers had taken down the faulty parts for repairs and added that the radio would not be back on air until Monday.
      "I went up the mountain myself with the engineers to check what the problem was and found out that it was a certain component of the transmitter that has broken down.
      "The electricity and everything else is okay but it is this part only. We have taken it down for repairs," said Osman.
      According to Osman, Muluzi paid K150,000 for the radio to broadcast the rally.
      He said he will give back the money following this development.

      *****

      NGO pledges support in fighting HIV/Aids
      by Moses Michael-Phiri, 10 October 2005 - 05:53:30
      Dignitas International, a non-governmental organisation, has pledged support to the Malawi Government in its efforts to fight HIV and Aids by increasing the number of voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) centres in the country.
      Dignitas president James Orbinski made the pledge in Zomba on Saturday when he opened the Matita VCT centre.
      "We want to open more VCT centres so that people do not have to travel long distances to get an HIV test. As of now, there are 18 VCT centres in Zomba, but Dignitas plans to open more centres across the country," he said.
      He said Zomba ranks high in HIV and Aids infection. The current 19 percent HIV prevalence in the age bracket of 15 to 45 in Zomba is also high compared to the national 14 percent.
      "Zomba has about 80,000 people who are infected with the virus. But our efforts are being affected by the current hunger. The shortage of food is making children and mothers suffer more. Those who are on anti-retroviral drugs (ARV) are the most vulnerable, said Orbinski.
      Zomba District Health Officer Andrew Gonani said so far there has been good response from people to get tested.
      "In the past, the need was there but due to lack of resources people in Zomba were not able to get tested and get HIV treatment such as ARV's," he said.
      Currently, 100 patients are put on ARV treatment every month in Zomba.

      *****

      House to start with bills
      by George Ntonya, 11 October 2005 - 07:24:53
      Clerk of Parliament Roosevelt Gondwe said on Monday legislators are expected to sit for three weeks to discuss government bills before President Bingu wa Mutharika opens a new parliamentary session next month.
      "They (MPs) will start with bills. Some of the things can come up in the course of the day," said Gondwe when asked about the business of the House.
      Among the bills to be tabled in the House are Bill number 3 of 2005 on the amendment of the Penal Code, Bill number 8 of 2005 on the amendment of the Police Act and Bill number 5 of 2005 on Conversion of Fines.
      Gondwe said the MPs may not finish all the bills.
      "We are going to meet again sometime in November. We don't have the exact dates," said Gondwe.
      Random interviews indicate that many Malawians want the MPs to regard the issue of maize and subsidised fertilizer as a priority, not the impeachment of Mutharika who is not in good terms with the opposition, particularly the UDF.
      People who commented on the sitting of Parliament expressed fear that the MPs might spend a greater part of the three weeks debating the impeachment while the voters go on empty stomachs because of the acute shortage of maize.
      "We are asking the MPs to prioritise the issue of food, not the impeachment of the President," said president of the Farmers Union of Malawi (FUM) Chrispin Mkandawire.
      "I don't expect the MPs to discuss the impeachment before they have addressed the issue of food shortage and the controversy surrounding subsidised fertiliser," said a Lilongwe resident, a Mr. Ngozo.
      Meanwhile, political parties have indicated that they would place priority on issues surrounding food shortage and availability of subsidised fertilizer.
      MCP President John Tembo, UDF deputy leader of the House Friday Jumbe, Aford chief whip Edward Munthali and PPM deputy leader Mark Katsonga Phiri said in separate interviews they would prioritise maize and subsidised fertilizer.
      At the time of compiling this report political parties were locked up in caucuses to prepare for the sitting of Parliament.

      *****

      Law Commission says House incompetent on impeachment
      by Bright Sonani, 11 October 2005 - 07:07:42
      A Malawi Law Commission report has said the development and formulation of procedures for impeaching a president and his vice should be left with the Commission since Parliament is not competent enough to undertake such a task.
      But Parliament says it is up to it to decide on the Law Commission's report when it is tabled in the House.
      In its preliminary findings on the Standing Orders of Parliament on impeachment, the Commission has also suggested that to avoid the risks of court challenges and unnecessary amendments or revisions, the procedures should be fully prescribed in the Constitution.
      In the report*which has since been sent to Parliament*Law Commissioner Justice Elton Singini has also said since in a democratic system authority to govern comes from the choice of the people through popular elections, it was prudent that any procedures to impeach the president and his vice, if not done through elections, the procedures must contain sufficient safeguards to protect and respect the democratic choice of the people.
      "It is strongly recommended that the Law Commission be allowed to develop the Standing Orders for Impeachment in accordance with the Law Commission process under the Law Commission Act," said Singini on the way forward.
      He added: "The institution of Parliament, together with its committee, does not have and is not and cannot be expected to have the necessary technical or professional competency for discharging its functions. Those competencies lie with the various ministries and departments of government and other agencies of state."
      Singini said the Law Commission process would guarantee a professional approach to developing the Standing Orders and enhance public acceptance of the outcome.
      He suggested that to do the task, a special Law Commission consisting of individuals with relevant expertise and interest in the matter should be appointed with the approval of the Judicial Service Commission and the nomination should be in consultation with the Speaker of Parliament and may include MPs.
      Singini said at the end of the task, the special Law Commission would produce a report of its recommendations, which would be presented to Parliament and the committees of Parliament will duly consider the recommendations.
      "From the available material and precedents, the process can be expedited without compromising the quality of work required of this task of such great national and public interest, and no doubt of constitutional significance," said Singini.
      The Law Commission said it came up with the recommendations and suggestions after sourcing and compiling some precedents from selected common law jurisdictions from several countries such as Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Ghana, Nigeria, Republic of Ireland, United States of America and the United Kingdom.
      "One observation is that in the more modern constitutions of all African countries that have been cited, the common approach is to fully prescribe the impeachment procedure in the Constitution itself," observed Singini.
      He said this was desirable and recommended because "it avoids the risk of such important procedures on constitutional governance being subjected to amendments or revisions without the higher consensus in Parliament required for provisions of constitutional significance."
      In the report, Singini said although the Republican Constitution leaves the procedures for indictment and trial to be prescribed by Standing Orders of Parliament, it is desirable that such Standing Orders shall be in full accord with rules of natural justice.
      He advised that in formulating the procedures requirements for compliance with rules of natural justice, such as rule against bias and the right to a fair hearing have to be adhered to.
      On the rule against bias Singini said: "This rule is often expressed that no one may be judge in one's own cause. Under this rule, it is not necessary for actual bias to be established. It is adequate only to establish a real likelihood of bias or that there are reasonable grounds for suspecting bias."
      He also said in the absence of two Chambers in Malawi's Parliament, it would be difficult without an independent body of inquiry involved for the National Assembly to satisfy the rule against bias as it would be one Chamber accusing and at the same time hearing the trial.
      Both Speaker of the National Assembly Louis Chimango and Chair of the House's Legal Affairs Committee Atupele Muluzi declined to comment on the recommendations on Monday, saying it would be up to the House to decide on the report when it is tabled.
      "As Legal Affairs Committee we have looked at the report and we will consider the recommendations. Unfortunately, I cannot comment until the matter is tabled in the National Assembly. But what is in the report are views of the Law Commission and they would be considered," said committee chair Atupele Muluzi.

      *****

      Zimbabwe reports drop in HIV infections

      Johannesburg, South Africa



      10 October 2005 09:42

      The percentage of Zimbabweans aged between 15 and 49 infected with HIV has fallen from 24,6% to 20,1%, the country's Herald Online reported on Monday.

      It said this made Zimbabwe the second country in Sub-Saharan Africa -- after Uganda -- to see its HIV infection rate start dropping.

      The latest figure emerged from a national survey -- carried out by UNAids, the Centre for Disease Control within the United States Embassy, and several universities.

      Health and Child Welfare Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa said the latest figures should not give people a false sense of security as Zimbabwe still had a huge fight on its hands.

      HIV-related illnesses continue to kill more than 3 000 people every week while almost every Zimbabwean household has been affected by the pandemic in some way or other.

      Parirenyatwa attributed the drop in infection rates to behavioural change.

      Surveys had shown that casual sexual encounters were on the decline and so were cases of sexually transmitted infections and diseases.

      "Girls are now delaying when it comes to starting sexual activity and almost everyone in the country has an understanding of what HIV is all about," he said.

      "Everyone now seems to know the importance of preventing HIV and to an extent are trying their best to avoid getting infected, which should mean they are practising safe sex," he said.

      Parirenyatwa said a concerted bid to fight HIV -- which had seen the government, non-government bodies and other organisations working together -- also played a part. - Sapa

      *****

      Harare squatters win court reprieve

      Harare, Zimbabwe



      10 October 2005 03:41

      A court in Zimbabwe on Monday provisionally barred the eviction of about 400 squatters from a suburb in the capital, Harare, a human rights lawyer said.

      Zvikomborero Chadambuka, of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said the High Court in Harare ordered that his clients should not be evicted from Mbare suburb, where they have been living in makeshift shelters for the past five months or so.

      "We got the provisional order we were looking for, to the effect that they shouldn't be evicted from the area," said Chadambuka.

      Most of the 338 squatters and their children have been living rough in Mbare since the demolition in May of houses they were staying in under a controversial police operation dubbed Operation Restore Order.

      The blitz was mounted to rid Zimbabwe's cities of what the government considered illegal structures.

      Chadambuka said Monday's court order was obtained with the consent of state lawyers.

      "It was by consent. The city of Harare said they never threatened eviction," Chadambuka said.

      Last week, the squatters said they had been ordered by police and municipal authorities to leave the area by Friday.

      Chadambuka said his clients will now be seeking a final order from the court barring their eviction until the authorities find them an alternative place to stay.

      The United Nations estimates that at least 700 000 people were made homeless and jobless by Operation Restore Order, which was launched countrywide in May.

      Police backed by bulldozers levelled houses, cottages and shacks, as well as workshops and flea-market stalls.

      President Robert Mugabe's government has defended the operation.

      It has promised to build hundreds of thousands of new houses over the next few years, something that critics say the cash-strapped government will find difficult to do. -- Sapa-DPA

      *****

      Pre-election violence in Zanzibar

      At least 17 opposition Civic United Front supporters have been injured, five sustaining bullet wounds, in clashes with police on Zanzibar.
      Witnesses said police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse hundreds of people prevented from attending a CUF rally on Sunday.

      CUF spokesman Salim Bimani called on Zanzibar's police chief to resign.

      Tensions have risen as Tanzania's semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar prepares for elections on 30 October.

      "The CUF supporters threw stones at the police after refusing orders to disperse. The police had to respond," Ramadan Kinyongo deputy director of criminal investigations at Zanzibar's police said, AFP reports.

      Hospital officials told the BBC that five people were receiving treatment for bullet wounds.

      The latest violence follows repeated clashes between supporters of the CUF and Zanzibar's governing Chama Cha Mapinduzi party.

      The opposition accuses the governing Chama Cha Mapinduzi of planning to rig the ballot.

      The CUF maintains that it has been cheated of victory in Zanzibar - its main power base - in the past two Tanzanian elections, in 2000 and 1995.
    • 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
      • 0 Attachment

        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

      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.