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  • Christine Chumbler
    HIV/Aids Institutions Failing to Absorb Funds The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe) November 7, 2005 Posted to the web November 7, 2005 Gregory Gondwe Lilongwe
    Message 1 of 1046 , Nov 8, 2005
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      HIV/Aids Institutions Failing to Absorb Funds

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      November 7, 2005
      Posted to the web November 7, 2005

      Gregory Gondwe
      Lilongwe

      The National HIV/AIDS Response Integrated Annual Work Plan 2005-2006 has pointed out that one major challenge facing HIV/AIDS institutions is lower absorption rate of grant funds.

      The plan says the money, committed in the last financial year, has been very low. "Large propÂșortion of grants from 2004/2005 annual work plan is still unmoved and activities uncompleted in the year planned. Out of K5.2 billion committed funds, 44.2% was disbursed to implementing partners but by the time of developing the present plan, only 34.8 % of the funds had been absorbed," read the plan.

      The bulky work plan published by the National AIDS Commission (NAC) said the reality is that the remaining grants from 2004/2005 plus allocation made for new grants in the present Work Plan 2005/2006 gives the Commission a large volume of resources which may not be absorbed in the one financial year as planned.

      The overall cost of the integrated annual work plan has been pegged at US$100, 498, 800 and it includes carry over global fund resources and active grants from 2004/2005 Work Plan amounting to US$22, 452, 252 and also financial resources pledged by non NAC donors estimated at US$13, 290, 840.

      Among other things, the failure to adequately absorb the grants was due to poor formulation of the previous integrated work plans where the budget was based on signed contracts of the grantees.

      The current plan has corrected the mistake by drawing out realistic allocations that will be effectively implemented and absorbed.

      To make sure that the grants have been used adequately, the plan says the approach will be to commit grants to activities that are earmarked in the current Integrated Annual Work Plan through a direct response and in line with the budget in the plan and at the same time speed up servicing of existing grants carried forward from 2004/2005. "This approach, in large measure comprises strengthening the capacity of all the implementing partners, particularly the district assemblies, so that there is accelerated absorption of funds and implementation of activities," says the plan.

      The Annual Work Plan is the first effort by NAC to produce a plan that integrates all activities by major implementing partners to be supported by funds either from or outside NAC and it has managed to include outstanding activities in the previous work plan.

      The process of developing the work plan was consultative as all partners as it included consensus-building meetings and those who have made their contributions to the plan were informed on the expectations of NAC in the 2005/2006 national HIV/AIDS response.

      The plan's main approach combines efforts to achieve a greater decentralization in the national response through district focus, increased attention to gender needs and directing the national response to interventions and programmes stressed as key in the National Action Framework 2005-2009. "It is appreciated that in order to have an impact in the fight against HIV/AIDS, more resources should be directed to the communities through local authorities," discloses the plan, which is gunning at increasing the capacities of district assemblies so that they are able to take over activities of the umbrella organisations after the life span of the plan.

      The plan is built on the eight priority areas of the National Action Frame (NAF) 2005-2009, which is also the premise of the plan, and other associated objectives for each priority area.

      The next four, Integrated Annual Work Plans (IAWP) will have the same priority areas and objectives and will only vary on its activities and will run until the goal for the priority area and NAF's overall goal is achieved at the end of 2009.

      The priority areas include the Prevention and Behaviour Change; Treatment, Care and Support; Care and Support; Impact Mitigation; Mainstreaming, Partnership and Capacity Building; Research and Development; Monitoring and Evaluation; Resource Mobilisation and Utilisation and the National Policy Coordination and Program Planning.

      According to the plan, the five priority areas are to be implemented by implementing partners while NAC will only implement two priority areas namely; monitoring and evaluation and policy coordination and program planning.

      *****

      Govt Hits Back At Chilumpha

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      November 7, 2005
      Posted to the web November 7, 2005

      Gregory Gondwe
      Lilongwe

      Government has hit back at Vice President Cassim Chilumpha who last week lashed at his own government for arresting opposition politicians for what he said 'performing their noble task in parliament'.

      Information Minister Patricia Kaliati who is also Government Spokesperson likened Chilumpha to the Malawi Democratic Party (MDP) President Kamlepo Kalua whom she said is making wild allegations against the government.

      She said the comments like the ones made by the Chilumpha raises eyebrows as they make one suspect his sanity. "When you get comments like this when you are sailing in the same boat, people will say you are insane and you are trying to fool them," said Kaliati. "If you are saying government when you are the second top guy in command then you are the number one wrong doer," she added.

      Chilumpha made scathing attacks at government during the official celebrations marking the end of the holy month of Ramadhan in Zomba that MPs are being arrested for doing their work at parliament and people are clapping hands over it.

      Police last week Wednesday arrested Balaka North MP Lucius Banda, who reportedly used a fake Malawi School Certificate (MSCE) to participate in the 2004 parliamentary elections, on charges of uttering a false document.

      The offence is a felony that carries a maximum sentence of between seven and 10 years with hard labour.

      It arrested Mangochi Malombe MP Maxwell Milanzi two days later under the charges of giving false information to a person employed in the public service contrary to section 122 of the penal code.

      This is a minor offence that attracts a fine of K300 or an option of three years imprisonment with hard labour.

      But the vice president said Banda and Milanzi are being victimised for moving motions to impeach President Mutharika, when they were only exercising their constitutional rights as parliamentarians.

      Banda successfully moved a motion on impeachment procedures in Parliament while Milanzi moved amotion to indict President Mutharika over seven grounds to impeach him. "We should not clap hands at everything because of politics," said Chilumpha.

      But Kaliati said these kinds of comments were as irresponsible as the ones being made by Kalua who does it for fun.

      *****

      Malawi Torn Up By Poverty, Politics

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      November 7, 2005
      Posted to the web November 7, 2005

      Pilirani Phiri
      Lilongwe

      Malawi is trapped between poverty and politics that each and every crisis the country faces revolves around the two, a recent research by the Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy (AFRIMAP) project has indicated.

      The draft research report done by Professor Wiseman Chijere Chirwa of Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi followed up an orientation workshop on AFRIMAP, a project that among other objectives wants to entrench democracy in the country.

      Presenting the draft political participation research last Saturday in Lilongwe during a validation workshop, Professor Chirwa said poverty and the political transition have influenced the nature of public life in the country since the dawn of multiparty politics.

      He said apart from poverty and politics, the HIV and AIDS pandemic too has proved to be crucial to the country in as far as citizens' political participation is concerned. "The HIV and AIDS pandemic has also influenced the nature of public life. Everywhere, everyday you find people going to funerals resulted from HIV and AIDS related diseases. "The contents of the three; poverty, politics, and HIV and AIDS have proved to be very crucial to the Malawi nation," Chirwa said.

      The report also observed that Malawi has been very liberal in signing international treaties even those that other countries have raised reservations.

      Chirwa said much as the nation has been signing these treaties but their contents have not been put to the public domain for consumption. "The strange thing is that despite the liberal signing of these treaties that have implication on the ordinary Malawian, the public has not been informed on the contents," he said.

      The report also discloses that the scrapping of the Recall Provision and the introduction of the post of Second Vice President in the Constitution is the best example to show how vulnerable the country'supreme law is to manipulation to suit those in authority.

      On the electoral system, Chirwa said in his report that despite the holding of regular elections being a measure for democracy but the elections have not been democracies in themselves.

      Speaking at the same function, both AFRIMAP Deputy Director Ozius Tungwarara and Human Rights Commissioner Ollen Mwalubunju who was the guest of honour explained that AFRIMAP is an initiative to promote compliance by African states with requirements of good governance.

      Recommendations that would be drawn from the validation workshop are expected to help finalise for its final launch to be announced by AFRIMAP in the near future.

      The Centre for Human Rights Resource Centre is the host institution for the research on political participation.

      *****

      Chiefs Brainstorm On Natural Resources

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      November 7, 2005
      Posted to the web November 7, 2005

      Hopkins Mundango Nyirenda
      Lilongwe

      Traditional chiefs have expressed concern over how political and economic changes over the years seem to have weakened their powers and authority making them less effective in their traditional leadership role related to management of natural resources.

      This was noted when they recently met in Lilongwe to discuss their roles in Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) organized by Community Partnerships for Sustainable Resource Management (COMPASS) as part of its planned activities to sensitize traditional authorities in the country. "History has it that we, chiefs were in the past instrumental in defending the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources such as forests, fisheries and wildlife by among other things, upholding to regulations set up by the ancestors on the utilization of natural resources," said Senior Chief Kwataine from Ntcheu.

      He said chiefs are custodians of the people in that they coordinate various aspects of the community, including caring of natural resources, to create harmony amongst people for the realization of their dreams and aspirations, however this is slowly being eroded.

      The new legislative policies and Acts on natural resources advocate for community participation in the management of natural resources on both customary land as well as surrounding protected areas. "Despite the existence of these policies for close to a decade, there have been few opportunities for traditional leaders to acquaint themselves with the policy and even comment on them," Kwataine said.

      Another traditional leader T/A Makanjira from Mangochi said that the role of Traditional Authorities is not well integrated in either the Act or the Strategy for decentralization of environmental management. "Government should steadily intensify building capacity of communities on new policies and their expected roles whilst gradually weaning out its involvement. It would also be better for government to give ultimate authority to the chiefs to design and administer fines on natural resources without external influence as what used to happen in the past," said T/A Makanjira.

      During the workshop, the chiefs also suggested that for genuine collaboration to be attained between government and chiefs, there has to be demonstrated commitment to share the benefits from the protected areas with bordering communities that can in turn be used for development of the areas rather than government controlling all the financial resources.

      *****

      Malawi Conducive to Investment -- Ambassador

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      November 7, 2005
      Posted to the web November 7, 2005

      Chikondi Chiyembekeza
      Lilongwe

      The Taiwanese Ambassador to Malawi James Chuang has said despite the country being landlocked, it is still conducive to large scale investment.

      "It's pretty far away from the Indian Ocean," noted the new Ambassador in Lilongwe last week, however adding that the country is really good to invest in and that its people are friendly and also peace loving.

      Chuang said he also understands that the Malawi Government has been very supportive of investors wherever they come from.

      He said because the country is landlocked, he supports the visionary idea of the present government to revitalise the Shire-Zambezi waterway.

      If the waterway is completed, he said "that will be the opening of the gateway linking to the Indian Ocean." The government is on the overdrive to resuscitate the waterway that is earmarked for funding from the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) to the tune of US$ 5 billion (approximately K625 billion.) The Ambassador said they also believe that the Nacala corridor is also equally important for the transportation of goods, hence the donation they made early this year of four locomotives to the government in order to smooth cargo transportation between Malawi and the sea ports.

      The donation was made when President Bingu wa Mutharika visited the island. "These locomotives will be here soon," he assured.

      He said what is needed is sort out the issues at the Central and East African Railway (CEAR) company with their American counterparts so that things normalize.

      He also shared the general concern that the country's transportation bill is very high and that if the railway lines are fully functional, land transportation expenses will be drastically reduced.

      The Taiwanese envoy however, lamented that most of the products being sold locally in most shops are all imported from South Africa.

      He noted that the prices are also comparatively higher to most of the people and suggested that this can be reversed if the country's manufacturing sector is boosted.

      *****

      Zimbabwe union activists detained

      At least 200 Zimbabwean trade union protesters have been detained by riot police in Harare, say union officials.
      The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions says their leader and secretary general were amongst those held in the capital.

      This follows the late night arrests on Monday of three union officials in the second city Bulawayo.

      The country-wide protests were called by the ZCTU "to remind government and employers that workers are hungry, angry and tired".

      'Living wage'

      Local journalist Brian Hungwe in Harare told the BBC that there is a heavy police presence on the streets and the atmosphere is tense.

      The riot police armed with batons blocked the demonstrators from moving along the streets and begun herding them into trucks, he says.

      ZCTU spokesman Thabitha Khumalo said 200 workers, including ZCTU President Lovemore Matombo and Secretary General Wellington Chibele were arrested in Harare while marching to present demands to minister of labour.

      The union, which represents 30 worker organisations with a million members, says that life for the worker had never been poorer, with mass unemployment and inflation currently at nearly 360%.

      Before his arrest, Mr Chibele told the BBC's Network Africa programme that "workers can not take it anymore" and they were calling for:

      A living wage
      A reduction of income tax from 40% to a maximum of 30%
      The availability of anti-retroviral drugs for those with HIV and Aids
      And a halt to the influx of cheap goods from Asian coutries.

      Those trade unionist picked up in Bulawayo include a leading union official in Bulawayo, Reason Ngwenya, regional vice-chairman Dzavamwe Shambari and a regional officer, Percy Mcijo, Mr Khumalo said.

      Meanwhile, Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of a pro-democracy coalition, handed himself over to police on Tuesday morning.

      He had been tipped off and spent the night away from home, but later turned himself in to the police.

      Members of his National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) marched in Harare on Saturday calling for a new constitution.

      Under tough security laws, the police must give permission for all demonstrations and protests by groups not allied to the ruling Zanu-PF party are rarely authorised.




      *****

      MDC leader 'chased away' by party youths

      Johannesburg, South Africa

      08 November 2005 08:02

      Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai was chased away by party youths at a rally in Lupane on Monday, that country's Herald Online reports.

      It quoted MDC sources on Tuesday as saying youths opposed to Tsvangirai's boycott of Senate elections "camped" at Somhlolo Stadium to stop their leader from speaking.

      Apparently, no one else turned up for the rally.

      "Tsvangirai was sent scurrying when a group of youths came rushing to his car, threatening to beat him up. He was parked by the garage near the main Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway to gauge the mood of the people of Lupane," said an MDC member.

      "But before he could do anything, youths came running from the stadium and wanted to beat him up. When he [Tsvangirai] saw them coming, he quickly jumped into his car and they sped away towards Bulawayo."

      Some of the youths were said to have followed his entourage up to St Luke's to make sure that it did not return to Lupane.

      "The message to him was loud and clear: he is not welcome here in Matabeleland with his anti-Senate views," said a high-ranking member of the MDC.

      Tsvangirai is on a tour of Matabeleland North to address party supporters and campaign for a boycott of the Senate polls scheduled for November 26.

      Tsvangirai's spokesperson, William Bango, said the MDC leader boss did not flee Lupane.

      "There was no plan to address a rally in Lupane. The only rally was at Dete. After addressing that rally, he [Tsvangirai] left." -- Sapa
    • 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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