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

news

Expand Messages
  • Christine Chumbler
    NGOs say Chilumpha behind anti-Bingu statement by Emmanuel Muwamba, 09 November 2005 - 07:53:14 Three Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in the country have
    Message 1 of 1046 , Nov 9, 2005
    • 0 Attachment
      NGOs say Chilumpha behind anti-Bingu statement
      by Emmanuel Muwamba, 09 November 2005 - 07:53:14
      Three Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in the country have said Vice President Cassim Chilumpha is behind a statement that appeared in Daily Times Tuesday which accused donors, the Judiciary and human rights organisations of shielding President Bingu wa Mutharika from public scrutiny for alleged acts of financial impropriety.
      The three*Civil Liberties Committee (Cilic), the Women's Lobby and the Blantyre Synod of CCAP* have since distanced themselves from the press release, entitled "The Grand Conspiracy to Strangle our Democracy" which had their signatures.
      Cilic Executive Director Emmie Chanika alleged at an impromptu press briefing Tuesday that Chilumpha and the UDF are behind the authoring of the statement.
      She alleged Chilumpha phoned her on Sunday seeking support on the statement.
      Chanika said she promised to get back to the Vice President after reading the statement.
      The executive director said she got a call from her deputy, Peter Chisi, who claimed had been visited by UDF executive member Hophmally Makande, seeking endorsement for the anti-Bingu statement.
      "As a matter of fact, Cilic received the draft release and was contacted by Mr. Hophmally Makande of the UDF who was soliciting our signature for the same. Having appraised ourselves of the contents of the press release, Cilic could not immediately commit itself to be part of the signatories since the contents are not reflecting Cilic's stand on the matter," said Chanika.
      She said she believes the UDF wants to use Cilic and other NGOs to amass support on issues that Cilic has nothing to do with.
      "We refuse to be used by any institution, especially political organisations. Our interests will be on the consequences that political bickering have on the poor and marginalised," said Chanika.
      She added that Cilic is seeking legal advice on the matter.
      Blantyre Synod of the CCAP Projects Officer Billy Mayaya also disowned the statement, saying the hierarchy of the church did not meet on the issue. "But maybe they think that by reading it we had accepted the contents."
      Women's Lobby Executive Director Faustace Chirwa also disowned the statement.
      She said in a press release: "As far as I was concerned the views expressed in the article were solely the views of a fundamental partner to government. At no time did National Women's Lobby authorise the author to append its signature to the said article."
      When contacted for his comment, Makande said he did not go to any office on Monday to deliver a document, let alone to seek support from Cilic.
      "What I know is that I asked [Chisi] 'Did you discuss with anybody contents of a certain document?' He said 'yes', meaning people discussed something," said Makande without naming the people.
      On how he came to know about the said document, Makande only said: "I saw the document because I am an interested citizen."
      Other signatories to the statement were the Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM), the Forum for Economic Justice and Development, the Association for Youths Advancement and Muscoma.
      MAM Secretary General Imram Sharrif refused to comment on whether or not the organisation endorsed the statement saying, "I'm currently teaching, talk to the chairman Sheik Yusuf Kanyamula."
      Kanyamula said he was driving and asked to be called later. He could not be reached.
      The Nation did not have contacts of the other organisations
      Chilumpha last week accused government of harassing two MPs who were arrested, Lucius Banda and Maxwell Milanzi, "for doing a good job in Parliament".
      The two were involved in the proposed impeachment of Mutharika. Sources say the advert was paid for by people close to the Vice President (names withheld).

      *****

      Kamuzu mausoleum to cost $500,000
      by James Chimpweya, 09 November 2005 - 08:56:06
      Government says the late Kamuzu Banda's mausoleum was now cost $500,000 as opposed to the original budget announced in July this year.
      Minister of Sports and Culture Jaffalie Mussa said government has accepted the additional K5.4 million for the mausoleum scheduled to be officially opened on December 3, 2005.
      Member of the Kamuzu family, government and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) on Monday agreed in Lilongwe to open and hold a memorial service of the first former Head of state the late Hastings Kamuzu Banda's mausoleum the first week of December.
      The agreement was reached after the three parties and the consultants saw the need to extend the opening due to some technicalities of the project that started late February this year.
      After Knight Munthali, Chief Architect in the Ministry of Transport and Public Works, who is also the project architect briefed the three parties of hiccups faced by the contractors that it would be difficult to meet the November 25 deadline as previously arranged.
      MCP president John Tembo proposed to the opening and memorial service to be on the date late Kamuzu was buried on December 3, 1997.
      But Kamuzu's nephew Kenani Kandodo decided the service to be conducted the first Sunday of December as was the custom ever since Kamuzu was buried.
      After wider consultations the three parties agreed to hold on the day late Kamuzu Banda was buried.
      "As government we want to hold the function on Saturday, December 3, 2005, the day late Kamuzu Banda was buried. Since the first Sunday will be December 4 we will hold the function on December 3, 2005 so that people can come in their large numbers," said Jaffalie Mussa, Minister of Sports, Youth and Culture.
      Mussa said when the three parties went to see the progress of the construction of the mausoleum since the days were almost around the corner.
      The minister informed Kamuzu family led by Kandodo and MCP delegate led Tembo that the project is in four phases with phase one was the coming up with designs, soil analysis, technical drawings and bill of quantities for the whole project.
      "Phase two consisted of mainly construction of the mausoleum. We are now almost complete with this phase. The third and fourth phases will be implemented as planned following the completion of the preceding phases," said Mussa.
      Mussa assured MCP and Kamuzu family that government has money for the project so the money should be the issue that should delay the opening of the mausoleum because the political will is there.

      *****

      Met predicts slim chances of dry spell
      by Olivia Kumwenda, 09 November 2005 - 08:52:42
      Department of Meteorological Services has said there are slim chances of the country experiencing a dry spell as rainfall prospects for the 2005/2006 season indicated that a greater part of Malawi will experience normal total rainfall amounts.
      Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) disclosed earlier this year that the current food crisis started by the shortage of fertiliser on the market was worsened by last year's dry spell.
      According to the forecast of rainfall probabilities from Met, there is a 35 percent probability that rain will fall below-normal amounts in the north and some parts of the centre and 25 percent probability that rain will fall below normal amounts in the south and some parts of the centre for the months of October, November and December.
      While for next year, the figures show that there is 25 percent probability that rain will fall below normal amounts for the whole country, 40% probability that it will fall normally and 35 percent probability that it will fall above the normal amounts.
      In an interview Tuesday deputy director of Met Grey Munthali said the smaller the number, the smaller the chances for it to happen.
      This means, according to the figures the chances of the country experiencing a dry spell are slim.
      "Normally in a good season, there are also problems of dry spells in some areas but according to the forecast most parts will have normal rainfall amounts, and fewer areas are likely to experience either below normal and above normal rainfall amounts," said Munthali.
      He said in a normal situation, rains start in most parts of the south and progress towards the north and that the rainfall season for the south and centre is from November to March and for the north is from December to April.
      According to a press release from Met, the forecast, which was compiled at the 9th Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum in September, does not fully account for all factors that influence the performance of the rainfall season, such as the development and movement of tropical cyclones in the Indian Ocean and climate change.
      As such, the department will continuously monitor the performance of the season and will issue bulletins every ten days and short and medium range forecasts with higher predictability.

      *****

      Cholera hits Mangochi
      by Henry Chilobwe, 09 November 2005 - 08:45:53
      Ten people were treated for cholera at Mbowani Health Centre in Mangochi last week while two are still in hospital at the district hospital, district health officer Suzgo Mzumara has said.
      But Mzumara said the situation is under control as all cases were treated but urged people to quickly take to hospital any patients that are suspected to have the disease.
      He said at the moment the hospital has enough drugs for treatment of the disease but still asked well-wishers to help with chemicals and fuel for the ongoing anti-cholera campaign that has been intensified because of the forthcoming rainy season.
      "We have treated all the cases that we registered but we are appealing for more aid in terms of fuel, chlorine and disinfectants so that we should be able to conduct our anti-cholera campaign smoothly," said Mzumara.
      He also expressed optimism that the outbreak may not be very severe this year following the intensive campaign that was started four years ago. He said cholera cases have been dwindling since the year 2,000 when anti-cholera campaign was introduced.
      His office recorded a total of 200 cases in the year 2,000 and only 70 cases at the same time last year.
      Meanwhile, Secretary for Health Wesley Sangala has said the ministry has adequate resources for treatment of cholera if there is severe outbreak this year.

      *****

      Parliament want Bingu investigated
      by Mabvuto Banda, 09 November 2005 - 07:59:38
      The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (PAC) has recommended that President Bingu wa Mutharika and his cabinet be investigated for alleged corruption and paying bribes to entice MPs and traditional leaders to support government.
      The recommendations also include an investigation on two senior ministers and a top civil servant, namely Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe, former Education Minister Yusuf Mwawa and former Secretary to Treasury Milton Kutengule.
      "The appropriate authorities should investigate the State President and Cabinet for engaging in corrupt practices of bribing members of Parliament and traditional leaders with the view of securing support for government," reads a report released last week Wednesday.
      The controversial report, circulated to MPs, was not debated in the House following a court injunction stopping any deliberations on issues to do with the impeachment motion.
      By law, the Auditor General and the Anti-Corruption Bureau are mandated to carry out investigations on any public officer suspected of impropriety.
      This week ACB Director Gustave Kaliwo said he would only go ahead with investigations after he receives the report.
      "We will only take necessary action when we see the copy and determine whether there are issues we need to pursue," he said.
      Mutharika, who enjoys immunity from prosecution in court as a sitting president, is not protected from any investigation by any body tasked with the exercise.
      Malawi Law Society President Alick Msowoya said last Wednesday the President can be investigated by a body like the Anti-Corruption Bureau if they see any cause to do so.
      "According to Section 91 of the Constitution, what they cannot do is to charge him and prosecute him in court," said Msowoya.
      "If they find any impropriety by the President in their investigations they have two options, to tell Parliament to impeach him and then charge him after he is removed or wait until his term of office expires," he said.
      Under the revised Corrupt Practices Act, the definition of a public officer includes the President and his vice who can be investigated if there is any suspected abuse of office.
      The committee also recommended that the President and Cabinet refund K300,000 and K2.5 million said to have been used to entice MPs to support Mutharika's Democratic Progressive Party.
      "They should also provide documentary evidence through the Accountant General before the end of this calendar year," reads the report.

      *****

      Civil society wants all MPs probed
      by Zainah Liwanda, 09 November 2005 - 07:57:16
      Political analysts and the civil society have asked government to probe qualifications for MPs to ensure that fairness prevails, arguing that picking on a few can be seen as harassment.
      The commentators have also condemned President Bingu wa Mutharika's remarks on Monday upon arrival from Scotland that impeachment architects, Balaka North MP Lucius Banda and Mangochi Malombe MP Maxwell Milanzi, were paying dearly through arrests as it was "a tit for tat" game.
      Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) Chairman Rodgers Newa said Tuesday it was unfair for government to target only those who were for Mutharika's impeachment, saying it would be wise to probe all MPs for justice to prevail.
      "The arrests have been wrongly timed. It would be good if government assessed all MPs so that all those with fake certificates are brought to book otherwise this is more less like witch-hunting," said Newa.
      Newa said he was neither siding with Banda nor Milanzi, saying if indeed they committed the crimes, the law was supposed to take its course. But he wondered why it took government so much time to bring the two MPs to book.
      He said it was wrong for the President to use government machinery to silence his opponents, pleading with him to allow the rule of law take its course rather than persecuting those with dissenting views.
      Chancellor College political science lecturer Mustafah Hussein concurred with Newa, saying if government was to show fairness in its efforts to ensure that those who presented fake certificates face the law, it should not be segregative.
      "The issue of submitting fake certificates should apply to all, because the arrest of Lucius came in the aftermath of the impeachment, and this raises questions on how many MPs do not have appropriate qualifications," said Hussein.
      Commenting on the president's remarks that he was hitting back at impeachment proponents, Hussein said it showed that personal rule is at work and that it is not good for democracy.
      He said the President should not practise politics of revenge, arguing that people should not be punished for what they did in Parliament.
      "His statement also shows that he is interfering with the operations of institutions such as the ACB which are supposed to be independent," he added.
      Political analyst Nandini Patel said by saying that it was a "tit for tat", Mutharika admitted that he was interfering with prosecuting bodies, a thing which he was not supposed to be doing.
      Patel said confrontational politics will not take the country anywhere, saying that it was unfortunate that it was coming from a head of state.
      "The President should always mind his language. As head of state, he should avoid confrontational politics and rather concentrate on more serious issues like the hunger crisis," said Patel.
      Malawi Law Society president Alick Msowoya declined to comment on the President's remarks.

      *****

      Pac changes mediation strategy
      by Henry Chilobwe, 09 November 2005 - 07:55:59
      The Public Affairs Committee (Pac) has said it has decided to lie low on mediation talks between President Bingu wa Mutharika and his predecessor Bakili Muluzi to avoid being derailed.
      Pac chairperson Father Boniface Tamani said Tuesday the religious body has not given up on efforts to mediate between the two although some quarters, especially the United Democratic Front (UDF), have questioned its neutrality.
      Tamani said he has changed his contacts from both government and opposition sides and that the response he has got so far is encouraging.
      "At the pace we are going now I hope we will succeed. We decided to avoid not to expose ourselves to the public because we were being derailed by some forces who only looked at our 'mistakes' to pounce on us and ridicule us," he said.
      UDF spokesperson Sam Mpasu is on record as having said Pac is not a neutral body to conduct the talks and that earlier efforts failed because those behind the talks did not know the real cause of the problem.
      Tamani said the role of the mediators is not to bring solutions to the problem but to provide a forum where the warring parties can resolve their differences.
      Asked whether their involvement in the impeachment does not mean Pac favours Mutharika, Tamani said the lawsuit Pac filed against the impeachment procedures was for national interest. He said his body has no grudges against the UDF and that the party should not misinterpret their involvement as being against the party.
      "Filing a lawsuit against impeachment is not filing a lawsuit against the UDF. We did not do that because there is Bingu or because there is UDF. We did that for the sake of national interest. We hope the UDF will understand us in that regard," said Tamani.

      *****

      Government snubs civil servants
      by Henry Chilobwe, 09 November 2005 - 07:55:13
      Government has lifted the suspension of a five-year averaging method for calculating civil servants' pensions and has said it will not go back to an old method because it (government) does not have adequate money.
      In a circular dated 27 October, Secretary for Human Resource Management and Development Samuel Madula advised all principal secretaries and heads of departments that the suspension had been lifted following a clarification that government made through a press release.
      The five-year averaging method was introduced in July this year to replace the old one that used consolidated salaries but it was heavily challenged by the civil servants, saying the method was getting more money from them.
      The Civil Servants Trade Union (CSTU) organised a nationwide strike early September which forced government to temporarily suspend the circular until negotiations are through.
      CSTU President Thomas Banda complained on Monday that by lifting the suspension government has violated their negotiations agreement, but Madula said government has no option but to follow the new method.
      "How can we trust our friends in government if they lift the suspension and start paying using the new method? We agreed to end our strike on condition that the new method be suspended first. But we are not giving up. We will call them to a negotiating table because we want justice to prevail. The five-year averaging method is stealing our money," said Banda. He ruled possibilities of another strike, saying it does not help solve problems.
      Madula insisted that the new method is in line with international standards and that it has been approved by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
      "My friend let me be frank with you, government will not go back to the old method because the bill is too high and there is no money for that. It's not that we hate the civil servants...I am one myself and will be subjected to the same method," said Madula.
      He further disclosed that plans are underway to introduce a contributory pension scheme where a small part of the employees salary will be deducted towards their pension in order to ease government's pressure.
      He said government has engaged a South African firm, Alexander Forbes, to work out the scheme so that it does not meet obstacles once it is adopted.
      "This will ease government's pressure that is there now. When somebody dies or retires it takes it takes a long time to process their benefits because it is government alone that shoulders the cost with its own revenue. But when the contributory scheme is in place there will be some money elsewhere and the retirees will be able to get their money in time," said Madula.

      *****

      Party, government clear First Lady
      by Nation Reporter, 09 November 2005 - 07:54:31
      DPP spokesperson Dr. Hetherwick Ntaba and the Director of Public Prosecutions Ishmael Wadi have reiterated that First lady Ethel Mutharika did not buy anything when she went to Harvey Nichols store in Edinburgh last week.
      The reaction comes after The Nation, quoting the Scottish Daily Record, reported that the First Lady and her escorts went shopping while President Mutharika was negotiating aid with his Scottish hosts.
      "The First lady did not go on a shopping spree as you reported," said Ntaba on Tuesday. "She walked into this shop because it was raining and she wanted to buy a raincoat. It was rainy, completely cold and wet. She didn't buy anything."
      Ntaba said the story was "a fabrication" and that the shop officer quoted in the story was "fictitious".
      "In any case, the unidentified person [that both newspapers quoted] said she [the First Lady] did not buy anything," said Ntaba yesterday. He said the whole team that went to Scotland conducted itself well.
      The DPP spokesperson said the Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell, whose system conducted a check on the shop, apologised for the Daily Record story.
      Asked whether he had approached the Scottish newspaper on the issue, Ntaba said he had neither time nor respect for The Daily Record.
      "This is total trash. They are not worth recognising," he said, adding that what he said "is the truth."
      Later in the day, Director of Public Prosecutions Ishmael Wadi said the story gave a wrong impression of the First Lady, whom he said was not an extravagant person.
      In his letter to The Nation, Wadi said "preliminary investigations forwarded to my office establishes that Her Excellency, the First Lady of the Republic of Malawi, did not buy anything from Harvey Nichols in Edinburgh, contrary to the information as disclosed in the article above mentioned."


      *****

      Zimbabwe voices anger at US envoy

      Zimbabwe's foreign affairs minister has summoned the United States ambassador to explain recent critical remarks about the Zimbabwe government.
      Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi said he had summoned Ambassador Christopher Dell to convey to him the government's "extreme displeasure" at recent events.

      Last week, Mr Dell said the Zimbabwe government was responsible for the country's current food crisis.

      Democracy activists in Zimbabwe remain in jail after Tuesday's clampdown.

      "I have just summoned the ambassador of the United States, Mr Christopher Dell, to convey to him the extreme displeasure on the part of the government of Zimbabwe relating to the ambassador's recent activities here in Harare as well as in Mutare," Mr Mumbengegwi told reporters.

      During a lecture in the eastern Zimbabwean city of Mutare last week, Mr Dell said corruption was to blame for food shortages. The government blames Zimbabwe's economic problems on sanctions.

      Last month the ambassador was briefly detained after walking into a security zone near the presidential residence in Harare.

      Zimbabwe state media on Monday said Mr Dell risked expulsion from Zimbabwe, and on Tuesday quoted President Robert Mugabe as saying the ambassador could "go to hell".

      Relations between the US and Zimbabwe have soured in recent years, with Washington accusing Mr Mugabe's government of rigging elections and abusing human rights.

      The UN says up to three million people in Zimbabwe need food aid, and has criticised Zimbabwe for refusing aid.

      Detentions

      On Monday night and Tuesday, police detained activists from the pro-democracy National Constitutional Assembly and the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions in connection with demonstrations.

      On Wednesday the NCA said it was "extremely disturbed" by the continued detention of its chairman, Lovemore Madhuku, who the NCA says has been transferred from Harare Central Police Station to the "infamous" Stodart Police Station in Mbare township.

      The NCA also says Misheck Shoko, mayor of Chitungwiza, a dormitory town near the capital, is being held at Mbare police station, and three other NCA members were arrested up in Chitungwiza in Tuesday.

      At least 80 trade unionists, including top ZCTU officials, were arrested on Tuesday.
    • 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.