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  • Christine Chumbler
    Milanzi does not own Bingu s ouster motion*UDF by Bright Sonani, 11 January 2006 - 06:00:32 United Democratic Front (UDF) has said Mangochi Malombe MP Maxwell
    Message 1 of 1046 , Jan 11, 2006
      Milanzi does not own Bingu's ouster motion*UDF
      by Bright Sonani, 11 January 2006 - 06:00:32
      United Democratic Front (UDF) has said Mangochi Malombe MP Maxwell Milazi does not own President Bingu wa Mutharika's impeachment motion and it was wrong for him to withdraw it on his own, saying it was a property of Parliament after it was tabled.
      A legal expert has also said it was only the House that would have powers to withdraw the impeachment motion.
      But Milanzi insisted Tuesday that he has authority to withdraw the motion since it was only a notice which was given to the House while he did not speak on the motion and was not seconded.
      UDF acting Publicity Secretary Sam Mpasu in an interview Tuesday said although the party was waiting for guidance from its Parliamentary caucus it was clear that Milanzi does not own the motion.
      "Once a motion has been debated in Parliament it ceases to belong to an individual MP and becomes a property of the House. How could Mr Milanzi, in his capacity summon the President to appear before Parliament? It was the House that had done that, not Mr Milanzi," said Mpasu.
      He added: "This is the matter of the House, it can only be decided by the House. Mr Milanzi was doing it on behalf of the House, Mr Milanzi signed (the notice) together with 70 others on behalf of the House. How can you say it was not adopted by the House after 70 members signed for it."
      Mpasu said it would now be up to the Speaker to decide on the matter following procedures on how motions are tabled and withdrawn.
      On the position of Milanzi in the UDF, Mpasu said that it would be up to the party's National Executive Committee (Nec) to decide.
      Dean of the Law Faculty at University of Malawi's Chancellor College Nector Mhura explained that legally and logically the withdraw was supposed to go through Parliament.
      "A motion was presented, the House considered it and if something is tabled before the Members it cannot be withdrawn without their consent," he said.
      Mhura cited Section 66 (2) and 67 of the Parliamentary Standing Orders which stipulate that a Member cannot withdraw a motion "without leave of the Assembly" and with the assent of the majority of Members present.
      Mhura said Milanzi's letter would have to be tabled in the House for the MPs to consider it.
      Speaker of the National Assembly Louis Chimango declined to comment on what action his office would take on Milanzi's letter.
      "I can only confirm that I have the letter, but I cannot comment beyond that," said Chimango who refused to take any more questions on the issue.
      Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Henry Phoya on Tuesday was quoted in the press as saying that the motion would not continue since the owner had decided to withdraw it.
      He said it was never a Parliament motion because the House never adopted it.
      Milanzi in an interview on Tuesday said what he knows is that a notice was given on the motion but the House never debated on it.
      "The Speaker only verified the signatures and government side walked out and then the Speaker sent that copy to the President. But the motion was not moved. If the President came in the House the motion could have been moved and somebody would have seconded it," he said.
      Milanzi said despite the tension that his move has created in the UDF he still regards himself as a member of the party "unless people would say you are no longer our member."
      He said if the party decides to disown him, he was ready to revert back to his original status as an independent.
      Meanwhile second deputy Speaker of Parliament Jones Chingola and Chikwawa North MP Alfeo Gobede have announced their resignation from the UDF and indicated that they would be supporting government.
      Mpasu, reacting to the resignation of the two said the party was not surprised that the two have declared themselves independent again since they won the 2004 elections on an independent ticket.
      Mpasu, who described those leaving as "political mercenaries", said although the leaving of the two was regrettable it has a "silver lining" since UDF supporters would now be serious in the way they choose Parliamentary candidates.
      "However, a question one would want to ask, what do they expect to gain with their new status in the House," he said.
      With the two, government is now assured of the support of more 50 MPs in the House.

      *****

      Mzuni to introduce nursing degree
      by Francis Tayanjah-Phiri, 11 January 2006 - 06:41:14
      Mzuzu University (Mzuni) is introducing a degree programme in nursing in a move officials say will help enhance quality in Malawi's health care.
      Mzuni Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Mwanza said in an interview on Saturday that the degree course will start in April this year.
      "Due to acute demand of highly qualified nurses, we are starting a four-year bachelors degree course in nursing. We will initially take 50 students, but we anticipate that the number would increase as we go on," he said.
      He said Mzuni decided to introduce the four-year nursing degree course after realising the big shortage of highly trained nurses in the country.
      "Ours is a demand-driven university and we introduce courses designed to meet the shortage of well qualified professionals that are vital for the development of the country. This nursing degree has been introduced following thorough consultations with other stakeholders, universities and government," said Mwanza.
      He said the university would shortly flight adverts in the print media calling for those interested to be trained as graduate nurses at the institution.
      Mwanza said the high prevalence of diseases and HIV and Aids demanded that medical workers be highly trained to properly understand the scientific challenges in administering medical care.
      He said training of more nurses would also assist in bridging the gap currently facing the country due to exodus of nurses to other countries.
      "Of course it must be pointed out that despite losing nursing to countries like the U.K., Malawi already has a shortage of nurses considering its population. It is very encouraging to note that government is doing a lot in ensuring that more nurses and doctors are properly trained and supporting institutions that trains such medical workers," he said.
      Established about six years ago, Mzuni has recently tailored in many courses targeting different professionals at degree or lower levels. Through its Centre for Continued Learning, Mzuni is also offering professional certificate and diploma courses for working professionals using distance learning, short courses and evening classes.
      Mzuni's degree in nursing will be the second to offered locally after the one at the Kamuzu College of Nursing, a constituent college of the University of Malawi.

      *****

      US group in K26m food aid programme
      by Joseph-Claude Simwaka, 11 January 2006 - 06:15:16
      US-based Global Aids Interfaith Alliance (GAIA) on Monday launched a K26 million (US$303,000) four-month humanitarian food aid programme to benefit 2,000 most vulnerable families in Blantyre and Zomba.
      The programme*covering chiefs Machinjiri and Kapeni in Blantyre and Malemia and Mwambo in Zomba*is being implemented by a local charity Churches Action in Relief and Development (Card) and is expected to end in March/April this year.
      Speaking during the launch at Chaweta Primary School in Machinjiri, GAIA Project Coordinator Pastor Fletcher Kaiya said it is a fact that the country is facing a critical food shortage affecting about 4.5 million people.
      "The country is passing through yet another very difficult time. Many people in the country are going to bed on an empty stomach and the programme we are launching today will assist home-based care patients and orphans in the specific GAIA impact areas," Kaiya said.
      During the launch, 270 targeted families in Chief Machinjiri's area received a bag of maize each weighing 50 kilogrammes and a bottle of cooking oil.
      Chief Machinjiri thanked GAIA for the programme saying his subjects were lucky to get such assistance at a time they are in dire need of food.
      But the chief warned that beneficiaries who would be found selling the relief maize will be removed from the register and replaced by those who are more deserving.
      "Some people are very ungrateful. This is a cancer that we must get rid of in our society by making sure that when such people are found they should be dealt with immediately," the chief said amid ululation and hand-clapping among his subjects.
      According to Card Director Jones Laviwa, GAIA has since 2003 been involved in a number of interventions in Blantyre and Zomba through his organisation on HIV prevention and women empowerment especially in areas that were hardest hit by drought.
      Laviwa said so far 10,000 people have gone for voluntary counselling and testing for HIV through with Card's help.
      To ensure the beneficiaries sustain themselves after the programme winds up this April, GAIA through Card has engaged them in income generating activities such as keeping dairy cattle, piggery and beekeeping, among others.

      *****

      Civil society demands apology from Milanzi
      by Olivia Kumwenda, 11 January 2006 - 06:14:26
      Malawi Watch, a political and economic non-governmental organisation, has asked Maxwell Milanzi to apologise to the nation for moving a notice of motion to impeach President Bingu wa Mutharika, saying the move, currently said to be withdrawn, made the country unstable.
      But Milanzi, who is Mangochi Malombe MP (UDF), has said he does not think he can apologise at the moment.
      The MP withdrew the notice this week, saying he has discovered that the proposed ouster in unpopular among both Malawians and international community.
      Malawi Watch executive director Billy Banda said Tuesday the organisation, while supporting the withdraw, is demanding a public apology from Milanzi as the notice to impeach Mutharika caused public disturbance.
      "He must humbly apologise to the people and accept that indeed he disturbed the society, the process caused a lot of misery to Malawians politically, economically and even development wise, Parliament wasted resources discussing the issue, he should therefore apologise for putting the country at ransom," said Banda.
      He also said his organisation realise that in a democratic society, a President can be impeached but the process should be done with support from the majority of people.
      "The impeachment issue was criticised from start by different quarters of society but he did not listen and went on to move a notice claiming it was popular and good for the country and now he is agreeing with us that it is not popular, who gave him the mandate at first?" Queried Banda.
      When contacted for comment Milanzi just said: "I don't think I can apologise at the moment."
      He refused to give further comments.
      But Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) executive director Rodgers Newa has said it is not right for institutions to demand an apology from Milanzi.
      "It's not for institutions to ask him to apologise, it's purely personal for him to decide on what to do, he did not do anything wrong because as an MP he is free to raise any motion in Parliament, but the problem is he did not listen when people were protesting against the impeachment," said Newa.
      But Banda said his organisation will not force Milanzi to apologise but morally he has to realise what his notice brought to the country and be liable for it.

      *****

      Zambians celebrate freedom to shop

      Olga Manda | Lusaka, Zambia

      10 January 2006 11:55

      Under the system of socialist one-party rule that ended in the early 1990s, commodities such as chocolate and Coca-Cola were beyond the means of ordinary Zambians.

      Such little luxuries were instead the preserve of the rich and powerful. Most citizens had to queue, sometimes for days on end, to get their hands on subsidised staple maize, cooking oil and poor-quality washing detergent.

      Strict exchange controls allowed high-profile business people with links to the government opportunities to shop abroad, buy imported foods, clothes and appliances locally or in better-off neighbouring states.

      Today, nearly 15 years later and under liberal economic policies, Zambians have choices.

      Imported foodstuffs are cheaper than locally produced foods. Shopping malls have sprung up in and around the capital, Lusaka, radically transforming the once-socialist Southern African state. Supermarkets, retailers and exclusive boutique shops have sprung up on land where bush and unused land once stood.

      These have brought not only chocolate and Coke, but a whole variety of never-before-available household commodities, brands and services and, as Zambians believe, "freedom".

      Growing middle class
      The impoverished and donor-dependent country has seen the rise of a new and growing middle class that has taken to internet caf├ęs, restaurants, coffee shops, fast-food outlets, hypermarkets, pubs and beauty salons with delight.

      With the advent of multiparty rule in Zambia came a raft of harsh economic reforms and liberal policies in 1991. These moves unleashed a steady inward stream of goods and services from South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Far and Middle East.

      Chinese, Ethiopian, Pakistani, Iranian and Egyptian traders have also found their niche in the Zambian consumer market, joining Indian traders with operations in Zambia that date back to the early 1960s.

      David Sampa recalls having had "the privilege" of life under the socialist state.

      "You had the money, but you did not find certain goods then. Now you have the money and are able to look for what you can afford," the civil servant says.

      A handful of city markets still attract most of Zambia's poor. But even here, variety has been boosted by cheap Chinese and other imports. High piles of used clothing and local agricultural produce are a common feature at the City or Soweto markets.

      Shopping malls
      People living in rural areas have increasingly included shopping malls such as Lusaka's Arcades Mall as a high point of their travel to big cities.

      Ackson Kaonga regularly travels the 720km from his home in Mpika, north of the Zambian capital, to shop at the Arcades Mall.

      "Some things are much cheaper here than other places and there is no need for me to spend more money getting from one place to another ... I can get everything under one roof," he says.

      For some Zambians who have tasted the pleasure of air-conditioned, indoor shopping, markets have become too grimy, inconvenient and "downmarket".

      "Town is too crowded," says Carol Mudenda, a Lusaka housewife. "And where would I leave my kids while I do my shopping? Here I can drop them at one of the fun centres and I don't have to worry much about my car. There is more security here," she says, speaking at Manda Hill Mall in downtown Lusaka.

      The government is considering an extension of daily trading hours beyond 5pm, reportedly in a bid to boost the economy.

      However, this looks set to result in a major showdown with trade unions that say Zambians don't have the money the state is targeting in the struggling economy.

      "In a liberalised economy, what we would like to see are more places like this catering for different economic groups," says Neo Simutanyi, a lecturer at the University of Zambia.

      Shopping malls, he notes, will cater for "a particular class", adding that the majority of Zambians may not be able to access such places.

      "They simply cannot afford it," he says. -- Sapa-DPA

      *****

      Zimbabwe judge convicted of corruption

      Harare, Zimbabwe



      11 January 2006 09:55

      A Zimbabwean judge who had ruled in favour of President Robert Mugabe's opponents has been found guilty of corruption, local reports said on Wednesday.

      High Court Judge Benjamin Paradza was arrested in February 2003 for allegedly trying to persuade a fellow judge to release the passport of a white business associate who was awaiting trial on murder charges, The Herald newspaper said.

      In what became a highly-controversial case, Zimbabwean judge Maphios Cheda secretly taped a telephone conversation he had with Paradza in which the latter allegedly explained that he stood to lose money if his French partner in a safari-hunting venture, Russell Labuschagne, was prevented from travelling to Europe.

      Labuschagne was later convicted of murdering a fisherman who was poaching on his property. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

      Handing down judgement on Tuesday, Justice Simpson Mutambanengwe said he "found the evidence of the two key witnesses overwhelming against Paradza to safely convict him on the main charges," the paper said.

      The first Zimbabwean judge ever to be convicted, Paradza maintained he was not guilty. He said he was being victimised for handing down judgements unfavourable to Mugabe's government.

      In February 2002, he ruled that eviction orders served on 50 white farmers were illegal, while in January 2003 he ordered the release of Harare's opposition mayor Elias Mudzuri after he was arrested for allegedly holding a meeting with residents without police permission.

      Mudzuri has since been suspended from office and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)-led council replaced by a state-appointed commission. Most of Zimbabwe's white farmers have also been forced to leave their farms.

      In a sign of just how sensitive Paradza's case was, fellow judges refused to try him and Justice Mutambanengwe had to be recalled from Namibia, where he serves on the Supreme Court bench.

      Mugabe set up an international tribunal two years ago comprising judges from Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi to investigate Paradza.

      Paradza's defence challenged the composition of the tribunal last year, but lost the case.

      Paradza risks a three-year jail term or a fine. The court is due to hear arguments in mitigation on Friday. - Sapa-DPA
    • 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

        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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