- Mec postpones announcement of election results
by Zainah Liwanda, 09 December 2005 - 04:35:40
The Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) Thursday postponed the official announcement of Tuesday's by-elections conducted in six constituencies across the country because commissioners were locked up in a day-long meeting assessing complaints from political parties and independents who claim the elections were rigged.
But Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Second Vice-President Uladi Mussa, whose party was unofficially reported to have swept all the six seats, said he was optimistic the results would be endorsed.
He also said his party was not afraid of a re run.
Mec spokesperson Fegus Lipenga said there were numerous complaints from various quarters such as the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP), the United Democratic Front (UDF), monitors and independent candidates from Zomba, Nsanje and Chiradzulu.
"There are a lot of complaints so we have to look at each one of them before announcing the results. Officially, we are announcing the results tomorrow morning," said Lipenga.
But he could not disclose the specific complaints, saying doing so would pre-empt what the commissioners were discussing.
Mussa said it was not surprising that some parties, especially the UDF and MCP, had lodged complaints, saying they had got the shock of their lives because they thought DPP was a small party that could not win.
"This is African politics, losers will never accept defeat unless they win themselves. I know it's a surprise to them, they never expected it, they took us for granted, and these are just tricks," said Mussa.
Asked whether DPP was ready for a rerun should the Mec nullify the results as demanded by the MCP and UDF, Mussa said he was very sure that if a rerun was conducted, his party would sweep all the seats, saying he did not see the reason why those who voted for them would change their minds.
Mussa claimed the DPP as a blessed party, arguing it has a mixture of personalities with membership from UDF, MCP, Mgode, Aford, RP and that it is difficult for the party to lose because it has the confidence of the people.
Mussa wondered why the complaints were coming now, saying all candidates had monitors at polling centres.
On complaints that Irrigation and Water Development Minister Sidik Mia bribed polling staff with K1,000 each in Nsanje, Mussa wondered whether the staff voted to warrant a complaint of rigging.
Analysts have branded DPP's victory as a vote of confidence for President Bingu wa Mutharika and a wake up call for the opposition parties, especially the UDF. They have since urged the party to go back to the drawing board.
Jubilant DPP supporters in Lilongwe on Wednesday took to the streets to celebrate the victory.
The commission is supposed to announce results of any election within 72 hours after the close of voting. That period expires Friday at 1600 GMT.
TVM boss denies corruption charge
by Olivia Kumwenda, 09 December 2005 - 04:42:45
Television Malawi Director-General Rodrick Mulonya has pleaded not guilty to a staff recruitment corruption charge levelled against him by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).
Mulonya took the plea Thursday morning before Limbe Senior Resident Magistrate Kingsley Mlungu.
The state, represented by Bernard Mulozawa-Phiri of the ACB, told the court that Mulonya is facing one count of failing to comply with a restriction notice contrary to Section 49 (A) of the Corrupt Practices Act.
But Mulonya's lawyer Ralph Mhone argued that the charge sheet has not specified which part of the Act Mulonya failed to comply with.
"The Act only has general charges, as of now we are not sure under which section of the Act this charge is placed," said Mhone, who is representing Mulonya with Hlupekire Phiri.
Mulozawa-Phiri said he had noticed the shortfall and that he would make the necessary amendment before end of business Thursday. He then asked for adjournment because his witnesses were not present.
"When a case goes for a plea, you don't know whether the accused will plead guilty or not guilty, it's only after taking a plea of not guilty that the state can call for witnesses," he said, adding that the state will parade seven witnesses.
In his ruling, Mlungu adjourned the case to December 16, 2005 and advised the state to bring witnesses.
The ACB alleges that Mulonya*in August 2004 being the director-general for TVM*failed to comply with a restriction notice served on August 3, 2004 by the ACB, restricting him from proceeding with any employment contract, transaction agreement or other arrangement with Mary Mbwana, Chimwemwe Festino, Aubrey Nkata, Rhosarius Mainesi and Isabel Mangulenje.
The case had earlier been dismissed by the Blantyre Magistrate's and High courts where it was argued, among others, that ACB Director Gustave Kaliwo could not handle the matter because he was not yet confirmed by Parliament.
Cholera outbreak hits Dedza
by Henry Chilobwe, 09 December 2005 - 04:46:07
A cholera outbreak has hit the eastern parts of Dedza that lie parallel to Lake Malawi with about 51 people suffering from the disease.
Dedza District Health Officer Isyu Mwakasungura confirmed the outbreak in seven villages along the shores of lake Malawi but said his office had deployed emergency teams to help the patients.
He said the outbreak was first reported towards the end of last week with 31 cases at Kaundu and Nakaladzi hospitals. He said the outbreak had affected 51 people by Thursday.
"The figures are cumulative. It started with 31 cases last week and today we are talking about 51 but what is more worrisome is that a seven-year-old-boy has died from the disease," said Mwakasungura.
He suspected the disease might have been caused by contaminated water since all the villages affected lie on the Lake Malawi coastline.
"These are some of the episodes of the rainy season. We are surprised it has come so powerfully. We did not have this outbreak last year," explained Mwakasungura.
He said the United Nations Children Fund (Unicef) and the Ministry of Health have also sent various drugs and other medical equipment to health clinics in the affected areas so that patients should not travel long distances to access treatment.
Some of the patients are being treated at Mtakataka, Golomoti, Nakaladzi and Kaundu.
Other reports also say another person has died from cholera in Mangochi but district health officer Suzgo Mzumara refused to confirm the reports "because the media have always misquoted him."
Ten people suffered from the disease in Mangochi last month but they were all treated at Mbowani Health Centre in the district.
Commission content on child rights
by National Reporter, 09 December 2005 - 05:21:13
Malawi has made some strides in child rights despite rampant media reports of child defilement, child trafficking and increased cases of men marrying small girls.
In an interview on Wednesday, Commissioner John Kapito of Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) said the country has made efforts to step up initiatives to improve the rights of a child.
In 2003, Kapito said the country formulated policies on early childhood and development and other vulnerable children.
"In June, 2005 Malawi launched a National Plan of Action for Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children," he said, adding that in June the same year the country launched a zero-tolerance campaign against child abuse under the abuse project.
Kapito, who together with commissioners Samuel Tembenu and Ollen Mwalubunju visited Thyolo Juvenile, Chichiri, Zomba and Mikuyu prisons, said the theme for this year's World Human Rights Day which falls on December 10 zeroes in on the protection of a child from all forms of abuses and human trafficking.
Malawi has also joined the world global campaign called 'Unite for Children, Unite Against Aids.'
"Despite the strides the country has taken, there has been an increase in cases of incest, child defilement and other forms of sexual abuses in the media but that does not erase what the country has been able to achieve over the years," said Mwalubunju.
Tembenu said most analysts only consider political rights and cast a blind eye on social and economic rights of people when assessing the country's human rights record.
"As such, the assessment does not reflect the situation on the ground," he said.
Some of activities to curtain raise the day, whose theme is: 'Children are the future of our nations: Let's create a safe environment for them', include child rights campaigns and a march which will be held this morning from Kawale to Kamuzu Institute for Youth where World Aids Day will be celebrated tomorrow.
Mozambique: First floods, now drought
09 December 2005 06:00
Mozambique has to develop a more systematic response to chronic drought, which is having a devastating effect on the food security and livelihoods of around 800 000 people, according to a recent assessment.
The government, with help from bilateral partners, the United Nations and NGOs, has been carrying out relief operations, including distributing food aid to 257 000 drought-affected people, and plans to expand the number to 534 000 this month.
About 127 water points in six provinces are being rehabilitated or constructed, and water has been trucked in for 22 000 people.
The Ministry of Health, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN children's fund (Unicef) have also prepared an integrated supplementary feeding programme to support up to 10 000 malnourished children.
But the development of medium- to long-term strategies to adapt to drought conditions was key to addressing the problem in future, said Peter Vandor, country representative for the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Mozambique.
"Water resources are drying up, people are walking further with their livestock in search of water," he noted.
Although people in the drought-prone provinces had developed methods of coping, Vandor commented that "it has not been done in a systematic way", and years of little or no rainfall had steadily eroded their ability to withstand shocks.
As a result, chronic malnutrition, especially among children, and the impact of HIV/Aids -- now officially at over 16,2% prevalence in adults -- has taken a toll on lives and livelihoods.
Family incomes have also fallen, as many men who traditionally worked as migrant labour in South African mines have been retrenched.
The government and UN system in Mozambique noted at a recent development meeting that although there was a need to alleviate the short-term effects of food insecurity and lack of water, medium- and longer-term interventions were needed.
Mozambique has experienced a major drought in three of the last four years.
The Limpopo basin area, covering the southern and central provinces of Maputo, Gaza, Inhambane, Manica and Sofala, usually has a short rainfall season, with 75% of annual precipitation concentrated between January and March. This often leads to floods, as witnessed dramatically in early 2000 when around 700 people lost their lives.
While there are many interventions that can be introduced to better cope with drought, it was becoming increasingly clear that water management was a key factor.
Besides the lack of rain during most of the year, salinity was a major problem in the Limpopo basin, with much of the groundwater too salty for human and animal consumption or food production.
Vandor said there had to be a more creative but systematic way to conserve potable water and cited the example of the Atlantic Ocean island of Cape Verde, where it was law that all public buildings had to be built with rainwater collection structures on their rooftops. This could be replicated in drought-affected provinces in Mozambique, and communities could be encouraged to construct earth dams and build low-cost irrigation schemes.
The country should also review the use and management of its international rivers with its neighbours.
"Mozambique is the last country to use these waters, and we're not getting the full benefits, we're getting floods," said Vandor.
There was also a need to upgrade livestock agriculture in arid rural regions, for example, by building more hygienic slaughterhouses and improving veterinary inspections.
Vandor pointed out that the tourist lodges mushrooming along the beautiful coastline of the drought-prone provinces were importing quality meat at high prices from South Africa. If the quality of livestock farming was raised, the money spent by lodges could be supporting the local economy instead. -- Irin
AK-47: The surgeon
Guns are placing a great strain on Zambia's health system
All this week, BBC World Service's The World Today programme is looking at the stories behind one of the world's most iconic weapons, the AK-47.
Throughout the week we are speaking to the people who trade in it, the people who carry it, and the people whose lives have been affected by it.
Dr Robert Mtonga is a trauma surgeon in Zambia. He explains what happens when a gunshot victim comes to the operating room.
" Trauma is a big chunk of the work here. In respect to gunshot injuries, the most important thing, obviously, is to keep them alive.
So we maintain the airway - make sure they are breathing; make sure the blood is circulating. These are the first things you look at, the first so-called "Golden Hour". Then we sort out the wounds.
You then have to locate the bullet - if necessary by doing an x-ray - and then you go in and try to remove it. If it's in a place that is inaccessible, you can leave it inside.
There was one guy who has 18 bullets in place. He was some sort of criminal, according to the police.
He's still alive - 10 years down the line, he is still here.
These things don't cause problems, because the way they are sitting, they are essentially like foreign bodies, but not causing problems.
Another case is a driver for one of the banks in Zambia. He has a bullet lodged in his right shoulder. It's not causing problems.
But there is also the mental damage. This driver still relives the memory of when he was attacked by thieves.
He has this post-traumatic stress, he wakes up in the night sweating, dreams and so on.
If someone has a spinal cord injury, they will stay for a long, long time in the hospital. Also the follow-up is extended. Some people have been followed up for years and years.
Now they have to be rehabilitated, they might be confined to a wheelchair, they might have difficulties in movement, difficulties in speech.
So on average you would say a few hours to anything up to 10 or more years. That is part of the hidden cost of guns.
Those that are severely injured tend to lose a lot of blood, and obviously they need replacement blood.
But with HIV/Aids in the city these days, one has to be very careful - especially for those cases that are urgent, where you need to do something immediately within the first golden hour.
Another aspect to this, in terms of the social impacts, is that money is coming from a limited pot. In fact, the Zambian budget is $18 per capita per year.
That means somebody who is injured from a bullet shot who needs $1,000 would take money out of 500 Zambians.
One bullet can wreck societies.
The message is very simple, guns are bad for health. "
Zimbabweans must 'celebrate' return of land
9 December 2005 09:02
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe on Thursday called on his country's citizens to "celebrate" the return of their land at the start of a three-day ruling party conference.
Addressing members of his ruling party's central committee in the small southern Zimbabwe town of Esigodini, Mugabe said the country needed to boost harvests.
"Now our people can celebrate the final return of their land," Mugabe said.
"Our collective challenge is to give impetus and support to the economic turnaround effort by making sure that we should grow and grow in a big way, so our harvests from our fields can be enhanced," he added.
Agricultural production plummeted after the authorities started seizing white-owned land for redistribution to new black farmers five years ago. Once a regional breadbasket, Zimbabwe will this year have to import 1,8-million tonnes of maize.
Mugabe's call comes after a UN envoy this week described as "very serious" Zimbabwe's growing humanitarian crisis. The country is suffering acute food shortages, high rates of HIV/Aids infections and homelessness.
At least 3 000 Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) supporters are expected to attend the conference in Matabeleland South province, traditionally a stronghold of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
But Mugabe's party took all five seats there in senate elections last month. The polls were marred by record low voter turnout and a major split in the MDC, which was divided over whether or not to participate.
The theme of this year's conference, which will be officially opened Friday, is "Consolidating Our National Gains".
Ruling party officials say the conference will also look at ways of arresting Zimbabwe's economic decline. The country's annual rate of inflation is more than 411 per cent, one of the highest in the world.
The ruling party is reported to have spent billions of Zimbabwe dollars refurbishing Umzingwane High School, the main venue of this year's party conference.
Trenches have been dug, a clinic set up, classrooms painted and a borehole sunk, reports say. Roads in the area have also been upgraded.
The meeting is also set to have its lighter moments. Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere on Thursday presented "samples" of a proposed national dress to Thursday's central committee meeting, state radio said.
"The proposal has come after intense research," Chigwedere was reported as saying. - Sapa-dpa
Zimbabwe critic's passport seized
The Zimbabwean government has seized the passport of a prominent critic, newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube.
The action was apparently under a new law which allows the government of Robert Mugabe to block the travel of its critics.
Mr Ncube owns Zimbabwe's largest private newspaper group.
He told Reuters his passport was seized by a man claiming to be from Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organisation when he landed at Bulawayo airport.
Mr Ncube was not arrested, but the seizure means he is unable to leave the country.
He said he was later told his passport had been taken because he was on a list of 64 government critics.
Mr Ncube is based in South Africa and owns the Standard and the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper, which have both heavily criticised Mr Mugabe in the past. He also owns South Africa's Mail & Guardian newspaper.
Mr Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party pushed through a range of constitutional changes in August, among them a new provision to ban its critics from international travel.
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
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
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.
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.
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