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  • Christine Chumbler
    Drop impeachment or forget talks, Bingu tells opposition parties by Bright Sonani, 03 January 2006 - 06:10:36 President Bingu Wa Mutharika has demanded an
    Message 1 of 1046 , Jan 3, 2006
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      Drop impeachment or forget talks, Bingu tells opposition parties
      by Bright Sonani, 03 January 2006 - 06:10:36
      President Bingu Wa Mutharika has demanded an unconditional withdraw of the impeachment charges against him as a condition for him to engage in dialogue with the opposition parties in the country.
      But the UDF has said the issue of impeachment was not between political parties and the President but rather between the legislature and the executive. The party has added that it would be impossible on its own to drop the charges.
      In his New Year statement Mutharika said although throughout the past year the opposition set "political booby traps" at every corner to blow him up, he was ready to talk to any member of the opposition whose agenda is to move forward in the development of the country.
      "I am ready to listen to them if they have legitimate concerns. I am even ready to forgive them," he said.
      But he warned that he would not approach any such dialogue from a position of weakness or desperation as he was not afraid of impeachment.
      "I am not weak and certainly not desperate. Therefore, in order to create a more favourable environment for fruitful dialogue, the opposition must unconditionally withdraw the impeachment from the agenda of Parliament," said Mutharika.
      He said it was sad that the opposition has been using its numerical advantage in Parliament to destroy him instead of concentrating on building the nation throughout the year.
      Mutharika said his understanding of democracy was not about majority ignoring the interests of the minority.
      "(Democracy) is about the majority learning to work with the minority and carrying them along in implementing decisions that affect everyone," he said.
      He added: "Within that broad understanding of democracy, the DPP government is resolved and determined to move away from politics of acrimony and retribution. We are moving towards greater tolerance and understanding of those who oppose us."
      UDF spokesperson Sam Mpasu on Monday said although the President was saying he was ready to talk with the opposition, his party has never refused to talk to him but rather it was the head of state who had refused to talk with them.
      Mpasu also said dropping the impeachment was not a mandate of individual political parties.
      "Impeachment is a national agenda, it is directly reflecting relationship between the legislature and the executive. Even if the UDF wanted to drop the impeachment, is it in the hands of the UDF?" he said.
      Mpasu also accused the President of mixing constitutional matters with inter-party political matters.
      He said the powers of Parliament, the Executive and the Judiciary are all constitutional arrangements and what one party says does not reflect on what the Legislature would say.
      MCP President John Tembo, who joined the UDF leadership at a recent Global Leaders Forum, where various leaders asked the two opposition blocs to drop the impeachment charges, could not immediately comment on the President's statement as he said he was travelling.

      *****

      MP kicked out of meeting
      by Edwin Nyirongo, 03 January 2006 - 07:32:03
      Rumphi North Member of Parliament Zizwa Munthali was last Wednesday ordered out of a meeting organised by the Centre for Multiparty Democracy in Mangochi by his party, the Alliance for Democracy (Aford) a day after he announced that he had joined government.
      Munthali said on Thursday that Mzimba West MP Loveness Gondwe and Aford Publicity Secretary Norman Nyirenda told him to leave after reading a newspaper report that he was now working with government.
      But Gondwe said no man can serve two masters at a time and that it was logical to send him back.
      However, Munthali maintained that he was still Aford and that he just wanted to help government in its development activities.
      The MP claimed that the decision to join government came from constituents and chiefs and that he only followed what he was ordered to do.
      Gondwe said the Mangochi meeting was for representatives of political parties and that Munthali went there by virtue of being an Aford member.
      She said the decision to send him packing was prompted by press reports about his joining government.
      When put to her that the MP is still Aford and that he is only helping government, Gondwe said that cannot work.

      *****

      Muslims petition Mutharika
      by Chikumbutso Ndaferankhande, 03 January 2006 - 06:22:17
      Islamic Voice for Peace, a Muslim organisation, on Friday petitioned President Bingu wa Mutharika through the Blantyre City Assembly asking him to address some issues pertaining to their faith.
      The marchers, about 25 of them, marched from Chichiri Upper Stadium to Blantyre City Assembly offices where they were welcomed by Violet Whisky, an Administrative Assistant who received the petition on behalf of the Chief Executive.
      They carried several banners some of which read 'Muslims march against discrimination', 'Islam is not a political party' and 'Everybody has freedom to enter any party'.
      Secretary for Islamic Voice for Peace Yusuf Malisye said the aim of the petition was to tell Malawians that Muslims are not happy with the conflict between Mutharika and his Vice Cassim Chilumpha and that Islam is a religion hence should not be used as a political party.
      He also said in a democracy, everybody is free to enter any party.
      "We are appealing to the President to work with Muslims, and not discriminate against them as is the present case," said Malisye.
      Asked why they were still taking up the issue of Muslims being discriminated against in public positions when government already dismissed the accusation, Malisye said:
      "The proportion of Muslims in government posts is still small. People might think we're siding with Chilumpha in the Mutharika-Chilumpha wrangle, but we are not taking sides. We are ready to support Mutharika's government."
      Government is on record to have said that it was not discriminating against Muslims as evidenced by, among others, appointments of Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Uladi Mussa, Minister of Sports, Youth and Culture Jaffalie Mussa and Director of Public Prosecutions Ishmael Wadi who are all Muslims.
      Whisky said she would not comment anything on the issue but assured the marchers that the petition will be delivered to the President.
      The petition comes in the wake of a sour working relationship between Mutharika and Chilumpha who has remained in United Democratic Front while the President formed the Democratic Progressive Party.
      Government, through Attorney General Ralph Kasambara has since filed a case against Chilumpha, accusing him of absconding from his executive roles, thus constituting "constructive resignation."

      *****

      Malawi hunger shocks Jordanian princess
      by Isaac Masingati, 31 December 2005 - 04:07:19
      Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan Thursday said she was shocked with the extent of the food crisis in the country.
      Princess Haya was on her first field visit as a United Nations World Food Programme's Goodwill Ambassador to see the impact of the food crisis in the country.
      Speaking after visiting a WFP food distribution centre in Chiradzulu and a children's nutrition and rehabilitation centre at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre, Haya said she was touched to see how people, particularly children, were affected by the food shortage.
      She said she would raise alarm for international awareness now that she had seen how children were suffering from the food shortage and how people were affected by HIV and Aids.
      "Much of the world's attention is focused on major crisis areas, but Malawi experiences food shortages every year, and the cameras are not always there to tell the world," said Haya.
      She said she was touched by the food crisis in Malawi because of, among other things, the high prevalence of HIV and Aids which has made people's livelihood extremely fragile.
      Haya, who was made WFP's Goodwill Ambassador last October by WFP's Executive Director, James Morris, said it was sad that the world had become used to seeing the faces of hungry children on television clips yet no one does anything to change that.
      "What we see on the screen is nothing compared to what is actually on the ground and I feel that it is my duty to experience that myself and relay it to the world," she said.
      Up to 4.9 million people in the country need food assistance and the WFP is providing half of the requirement.
      Haya, who came with a tight security of six officers and five officials, flew in on a 200-seat American Arab Emirates (UAE) chartered plane and left for Dubai the same day.
      She is daughter of late King Hussein Bin Talal of Jordan and wife of General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, crown prince of Dubai and defence minister of the UAE.
      In his remarks, WFP country director Momenico Scalpelli said his organisation would scale up food distribution from the current 1.3 million people to 2.4 in January.

      *****

      Civil society welcome proposal for fresh polls
      by Joseph Langa, 31 December 2005 - 03:40:50
      Civil society organisations have welcomed President Bingu wa Mutharika's proposal to hold fresh elections as a way of ending the current political impasse between the President and the UDF.
      DPP Publicity secretary Hetherwick Ntaba told The Nation last Monday that Mutharika is ready to hold elections.
      Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) Chair, Rodgers Newa and Public Affairs Committee (Pac) spokesperson Maurice Munthali agreed in separate interviews fresh polls would end the bickering.
      "The feeling is that the President and his party are ruling through the back door. It's more of a betrayal for him to come out of UDF and form his own party. That's why they are disgruntled because they feel he cheated them," said Newa.
      He said such polls are provided for in the Constitution if the President feels he is failing to rule the country because of certain problems and he needs fresh elections.
      Newa said if Mutharika could win after the fresh polls it would also help him to freely implement his policy of zero tolerance on corruption against UDF officials, which he claims he is failing to fully implement because he is conscious since he also came from the same party.
      "We might do away with some of the things that are boggling the political situation in the country," said Newa,
      But Newa said elections would be held only if donors who normally fund the elections believe the issues have really caused political unrest in the country and agrees to fund the polls.
      Munthali said although Pac is still advocating for dialogue, the issue of fresh elections is a welcome idea adding that one would become suspicious of the opposition's agenda if they backtrack on the idea now which they have all along been advocating.
      "It's a welcome idea but if these people [the opposition] backtrack then they had a bad intention," he said.
      But Munthali said the polls should not be rushed, saying all parties should be given a chance to prepare themselves for the task.
      Asked if UDF*which has been asking Mutharika to get the mandate of the people to rule by holding fresh elections*welcome the proposal for early elections, the party's publicity Secretary Sam Mpasu said as a party they do not have a position now. But he said if it became necessary to hold elections, his party would be involved in the process of amending the Constitution to provide for early elections.
      MCP president John Tembo yesterday could not be drawn to comment if his party welcomes the proposal for early elections. But in an earlier interview on Wednesday he said in a democracy no party would be ready for elections within a day. He did not elaborate.
      Malawi Electoral Commission spokesperson, Fergus Lipenga said they have no problems conducting the elections as long as the money is ready in time mainly for the registration process.
      "If the money is ready in good time, we don't have any problem," said Lipenga adding that the Commission would require over $20 million (over K2.5 billion) for the polls as per the budget of the May 2004 general elections if the polls will also include electing MPs.
      But Malawi Law Society spokesperson Linda Ziyendammanja said there is no provision in the Constitution that provides for fresh elections unless through a referendum to seek a popular opinion from the people.
      She said the Constitution stipulates that elections will only be conducted in May after every five years and there is no provision that gives the President power to change that.
      "Even if the opposition agree to have fresh elections, they will need a specific provision that early elections should be held. There is no provision that gives the President powers to decide when elections should be held," she said.
      But Ziyendammanja said Section 12 of the Constitution could be used to call for fresh elections by arguing that the DPP does not have the mandate of the people to rule the country. She, however, said this would only be possible if a popular opinion is sought from the people through a referendum or other means.
      Efforts to seek comments from the donors who sponsor elections on whether they would be willing to fund fresh polls failed because most of them were on leave.

      *****

      Muluzi's fate January 10
      by Gedion Munthali, 31 December 2005 - 03:37:20
      The Anti-Corruption Bureau will by January 10, 2006 know whether or not it has a case against UDF national chair Bakili Muluzi in relation to K1.4 billion he is alleged to have received from donor countries, foreign organisations and local private firms and deposited into a personal account during his 10 -year tenure of office.
      Bureau Director Gustave Kaliwo said on Tuesday a decision will be made that day after a computer expert analyses data in computers the bureau seized from Muluzi when its officers raided his residences at BCA in Limbe, Area 43 in Lilongwe and Kapoloma in Machinga on October 28, 2005.
      "I think we will know the position around January 10, 2006," said Kaliwo when asked what progress had been made on the issue.
      Kaliwo said the computer expert could not come earlier because of other pressing commitments elsewhere besides the festive season.
      "He is expected in the country after the festive season," he said. "After he analyses the data, we will know how to proceed."
      The bureau, according to Kaliwo, raided Muluzi's houses after he obtained a court injunction stopping his appearance at the ACB offices where he was required to answer questions and produce documents or certified true copies of documents in his possession or under his control in respect of transactions he had with Taiwan, Libya, the Kingdom of Morocco and some foreign organisations.
      Other items confiscated included bank cheques, bank statements, bank instructions and letters.
      These items, including the computers, are under the custody of the Lilongwe Magistrates Court.
      According to Muluzi's lawyer David Kanyenda Senior Resident Magistrate Mzondi Mvula ordered that each party should give the other a 36 -hour notice when it wants to have access to the items.


      *****

      Rains wreak havoc in Southern Africa

      Benita Van Eyssen | Johannesburg, South Africa

      03 January 2006 03:40

      Heavy rains in parts of Southern Africa have left more than 1 000 people homeless, caused structural damage, and played a part in spreading cholera .

      In Zambia more than 1 000 cases of cholera have been reported since August with at least six deaths amid an escalation in the number of infections in recent days.

      Sprawling urban areas, like the capital Lusaka -- where about 210 new cases a week were being recorded -- were listed as the worst hit, with poor water and sanitation blamed for the outbreak.

      The rains also damaged the country's main hydroelectric power station at Kafue Gorge in late December, causing a power outage for several hours in most parts of the country and triggering fears of a total blackout.

      The country has been forced to import power from neighbouring Zimbabwe and South Africa.

      In Malawi as many as 1 000 people have been reported displaced in the wake of flooding in recent days when several rivers around the country burst their banks.

      The Ruo River along the country's border with Mozambique flooded at least six nearby villages, sending inhabitants fleeing to higher ground.

      Malawi's floods also swept away livestock and crops, according to the Blantyre-based Daily Times newspaper.

      In neighbouring Mozambique, hundreds lost their homes in heavy thunderstorms while several people were reported injured as a result of harsh weather conditions on New Year's Eve.

      Rains and strong winds caused severe structural damage and also fuelled fear of a cholera outbreak in the worst affected districts -- including the central Sofala Province and Beira along the coast.

      Zimbabwe on Tuesday reported seven deaths from cholera and 114 new cases amid a sharp rise in infections over the last two days in its central Chikomba and Chivhu districts.

      Zimbabwe Health Minister David Parirenyatwa warned people avoid travelling to or from the affected areas and to practice high levels of hygiene.

      South of the border in South Africa's Limpopo Province the number of cases of malaria has risen to 58 -- 22 of which were regarded as critical -- health officials said on Tuesday.

      High rainfall throughout December and an increase in the number of people in the province had contributed to the number of cases, according to national Health Department spokesperson Phuti Seloba. He said that the situation was under control.

      Traffic authorities meanwhile said heavy thundershowers causing poor visibility had brought about a general increase in accidents on South Africa's roads where more than 1 000 people have died since December 1.

      Traffic officials on Tuesday warned motorists returning from their summer holidays to drive with care in wet conditions as the country's weather bureau predicted further downpours for the remainder of the week.

      The heavy rains and flooding comes as most of Southern Africa battles chronic food shortages caused by severe drought in recent years. Zambia and Malawi declared the food crises national disasters in 2005. - Sapa-DPA

      *****

      US boosts Zambia with debt relief
      By Martin Plaut
      BBC Africa analyst

      Zambia has announced the United States has agreed to cancel debts owed by the country worth $280 million (£163m).
      Zambia's Minister of Finance, Ngandu Magande, welcomed the decision, saying the debt relief granted in the last few days was a major boost to the economy.

      It is the latest sign that promises made to Africa by the international community in 2005 are bearing fruit.

      Coupled with similar decisions by Japan and France, the US move means Zambian debts have fallen by over $1 billion.

      Before this, running the Zambian economy must have seemed an unenviable burden.

      Now Mr Magande has some real options before him.

      Once all lenders write off their debts, Zambia's external borrowings are expected to drop from around $7bn to a much more manageable level of $500m.

      This comes in a year in which Zambia's main export - copper - has seen strong demand, particularly from the burgeoning Indian and Chinese economies.

      So after years of managing decline, Mr Magande will be able to think about where to spend the extra revenue at his disposal.

      Nigerian exception

      And the Zambian experience is not unique.

      Ten days ago the International Monetary Fund announced that it had written off all the debts owed to it by 19 of the poorest countries - most of them in Africa.

      This decision alone was worth a total of $3.3bn.

      But some countries still have debts to pay.

      Nigeria has had more than half of the money it owes cancelled, but this still leaves $12bn that it has to repay.

      Campaigners have called for this too to be written off but not everyone agrees.

      Nigeria's main export is oil, and given the near record prices for crude it should have little problem in servicing its debts.

      Corruption, rather than debt, is cited by critics as Nigeria's main obstacle to progress.

      So as the year comes to an end, it is possible now to conclude that at least one of the promises made to Africa by the international community is being kept.

      The continent's unscaleable debt mountain is being reduced to much more manageable levels.

      *****

      Zimbabwe food prices 'up 10-fold'

      The cost of buying groceries in Zimbabwe increased almost 10-fold in 2005, according to the country's independent Consumer Council.
      Its report found that the price of a loaf of bread rose by 1,157% throughout the year to 44,000 Zimbabwean dollars (55 US cents; 32p). Milk rose 1,718%.

      The runaway prices have caused living standards to plummet, especially since unemployment has risen to 80%.

      The Zimbabwean government's own figures put the inflation rate at 502%.

      Yet this figure is calculated on a broader selection of goods and services, some items of which have recorded smaller price hikes than essential food products.

      Land seizures

      Zimbabwe's economy has now been in sharp decline for six years, with severe fuel and food shortages contributing to the sky-high inflation.

      While the United Nations says this is because of mismanagement by the government, Mr Mugabe instead puts the blame on sanctions imposed by Western nations following his controversial seizure of white-owned farms.

      More recently, the UN and Western nations have attacked the demolition of thousands of homes and market stalls, a move strongly defended by the government as an urban renewal drive.

      The Consumer Council's end-of-year report said 2005 had been an "agonising" year for Zimbabwean consumers.

      Aid agencies estimate that 70% of Zimbabwe's 12 million population now survive on one meal or less a day, while the UN World Food Programme expects to feed some three million Zimbabweans next month.

      The Consumer Council is now urging people to shop around for the best price and engage in "lawful informal trade, small-scale business and other income-generating activities".
    • 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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