- UDF, MCP in Crisis
The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
January 11, 2006
Posted to the web January 11, 2006
Political crisis has hit the main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) as a number of Members of Parliament (MPs) are tipped to be on the move to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika.
Highly placed officials in UDF as well as the MCP have revealed the development saying that about 9UDF MPs and over ten of their MCP counterparts will be on the move to president Mutharika's party.
This comes barely a few days after MCP Member of Parliament for Lilongwe North North East Rodgers Sithole tender his resignation letter and announced his move to the DPP.
Publicity secretary for DPP Hetherwick Ntaba has confirmed the development and said that this was just the beginning as are many more than the said numbers changing sides including other top officials from the parties who he said are defecting to DPP too.
However, Ntaba could not be drawn to comment as to how many MPs are joining DPP saying he is not entirely sure on the exact figures because there are a lot of discussions currently underway. "I am aware that there are a lot of MPs from all parties in the country moving from their respective parties to the DPP. These are not only Members of Parliament but even top party officials and supporters, and people are responding to how Mutharika is delivering," said Ntaba.
Spokesperson for the UDF Sam Mpasu has questioned the veracity of the reports saying there is not even a single member of parliament who intends to ditch the party and join the DPP.
Mpasu said UDF has strong MPs who cannot easily defect to any party adding that defecting from a party that sponsored them into power to another political party is flouting the terms and conditions of the constitution. "I am not so sure that any of the UDF MPs can defect to DPP and I am not even sure that any MP can be stupid enough to flout the constitution with the existence of section 65. Our party is intact," insisted Mpasu.
Malawi Congress Party spokesperson, vice president Nicholas Dausi has chosen to remain silent on the matter and refusing to be drawn into making a statement.
Dausi said he could not comment on the matter on the basis that he is in Blantyre and the party headquarters is in Lilongwe. He suggested that people in the country should wait for some time to determine the truth about the matter.
Asked if his party is afraid of the said mass exodus of MPs from his party, Dausi said, "As of now, I can say 'no comment'. Let us wait and see." Some days ago, a Member of Parliament for Malawi Congress Party Rodger Sithole resigned from the party and openly joined the DPP.
In an interview with The Chronicle, he said he joined the DPP because he believes that the party is delivering on its promises to the nation and people from his constituency have given him the nod to move his allegiance.
But the MCP and UDF politburo insist that the DPP is persuading MPs from other parties to join the DPP. It has become current tradition for leaders in ruling parties to offer financial and other inducements to the opposition to join their numbers.
The political capital gained in a defection from the opposition is publicised often on the public broadcaster to give the impression that the party is gaining ground. The accusations have come after the DPP was able to sweep all 6 seats in the by elections held in December last year with those in the opposition crying foul and demanding a rerun.
Donors Demand Accountability In Projects Funding
The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
January 11, 2006
Posted to the web January 11, 2006
Donors have bemoaned the lack of accountability in the way funding for projects is utilised saying currently, government has no mechanism to report to Parliament how funding for projects was put to use, Alan Whitworth, Economic Advisorforthe British Department for International Development has said.
Whitworth further said there is need for government to give a greater accounting, through the Minister of Finance when presenting reports on development projects undertaken in any previous fiscal year, other than the state of affairs of the moment where there is no indication of how much donors contributed.
He was speaking in Blantyre in an interview minutes after presenting a paper on Malawi's fiscal performance and prospects for the future where he said; should government continue prudence on fiscal discipline by controlling "unnecessary public expenditure" Malawians would soon experience change for the better.
Whitworth saidaccountability was especially needed in areas of funding for recurrent expenditure which he said is the responsibility of government and that donors just come in, fully understanding the dire situation the country is in. "Traditionally, donors fund the development budget and not the recurrent budget. But asis the case with Malawi, donors are also funding the recurrent budget. But the problem is that they don't know how the funds are used because government does not indicate how much was donor-funded when the Minister of Finance is presenting his reportsfor the previous fiscal year in Parliament, "complained Whitworth claiming the trend leaves development partners in the dark.
To make matters worse, he said, donors just live on the assumption that they may be financing about 40 to 46 percent of Malawi's recurrent budget.
The DFID Economic Advisor, however, appealed todonors to help provide an exit strategy before handing over projects to the government of Malawi, pointing out that when donors just construct, "say hospitals", they should runit for some time, bearing the costs of staff salaries and other expenditure before handing it over to government.
Whitworth argued thatabrupt hand-overs of projects puts a strain on the national budget, a development he said which may result in unbudgeted for expenditurethereby impacting negatively on a country's development.
Opposition Reacts to Mutharika's Reconciliation Overtone
The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
January 11, 2006
Posted to the web January 11, 2006
The main opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the United Democratic Front (UDF) have separately reacted to reconciliation overtones in President Mutharika's New Year national address. The parties insist that pre-conditions do not auger well for any reconciliation and peace.
State President Dr. Bingu wa Mutharika placed conditions on the two camps if there was to be discussion between them that would lead to reconciliation in a speech broadcast to the nation on New Year's eve.
In his address, Mutharika said he was ready to talk to any members of the opposition whose agenda is to move forward with the development of the nation. "I am ready to listen to them if they have legitimate concerns. I am even ready to forgive them," he said without elaborating before attaching a series of conditions to any would-be negotiation talks. "In order to create a more favourable environmental for fruitful dialogue, the opposition must unconditionally withdraw the impeachment from the agenda of parliament," he said.
He said in the last sitting of parliament the country witnessed the attempts by some political heavy weights to use parliament to settle personal scores and to remove the legitimately elected government through unconstitutional means.
Ironically, in the same breath he declared he was not afraid of being impeached. "In that regard, I will not approach any such dialogue from a position of weakness or desperation. I am not weak and certainly not desperate," he said.
But the UDF Chief Whip in the Legislative Assembly Leonard Magnolia voiced concern with the path that Mutharika is attempting to take towards reconciliation. "I do not think preconditions for negotiations should be put in the newspapers or whatever," said Mangulama.
He said the issues raised are of national importance. If there is need for negotiations there is always a right way to negotiate. "If the president feels people have to negotiate then he has to initiate the process and it is until you've spoken to each other that you can agree or disagree with the points which one puts across," he said.
MCP Spokesperson Nicolas Dausi said his party has nothing to reconcile with Mutharika because it has completely nothing against him. "We only told him that he is presiding over a chair that was stolen from the Malawi Congress Party," he said.
Asked if this was not a sufficiently contentious issue for MCP to refuse to engage in dialogue Dausi said the issue was now water under the bridge since the courts dismissed the MCP challenge on the elections.
He said although some MCP MPs were advocating for Mutharika's impeachment they were only doing so in their personal capacities, insisting that from the beginning MCP had nothing against Mutharika.
Mutharika whose party has now made inroads in parliament with the six seats it grabbed in the December by elections said his DPP government is resolved and determined to move away from politics of acrimony and retribution. "We are moving towards great tolerance and understanding of those who oppose us. My government is determined to continue to exercise patience, tolerance and understanding of those in opposition whose definition of democracy is different from our own," he said.
Malawi: Malnutrition Rising As Food Shortages Bite
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
January 11, 2006
Posted to the web January 11, 2006
Preliminary results of a recent nutrition survey in Malawi have revealed alarming increases in malnutrition levels, with the central and southern regions hit hardest.
According to the study, conducted by the Ministry of Health with support from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the National Statistical Office and a number of local NGOs, there is a "serious nutrition situation", with global acute malnutrition (GAM) at 13 percent in some districts.
"Admissions to Nutritional Rehabilitation Units (NRU) increased by 63 percent from November to December, and we are still approaching the peak of the hunger season," UNICEF's Nutrition Officer, Roger Mathisen, told IRIN.
Children under five years and pregnant or lactating women with moderate to severe acute malnutrition were being treated at the NRUs and provided with supplementary food rations after they were discharged, Mathisen explained.
The survey results, now available for 23 of the 26 districts, showed GAM rates at above 10 percent in five districts, indicating a "severe nutrition situation", and GAM rates of between five and nine percent in eight districts, which signalled a "malnutrition warning alert".
Comparing the new 2005/06 figures to previous hunger seasons, Mathisen said "the rates are much higher than for 2004/05 and are reaching levels seen during the crisis in 2003/04."
The three most affected districts have severe acute malnutrition (SAM) levels of between five and seven percent.
"SAM is a serious medical condition associated with high mortality, but once a child has developed SAM we manage to save 85 percent of the children admitted to the NRUs," Mathisen said.
With an estimated 4.9 million people in dire need of humanitarian assistance, Malawi is going through a grinding food crisis after the worst harvest in a decade. But a lack of food is only one of the underlying factors leading to acute malnutrition.
"This certainly aggravates the situation, but malnutrition is the outcome of not only food shortage, but also of inadequate quality and access to health services, and water and sanitation," Mathisen explained, "and the increasing incidence of diseases such as cholera, malaria and diarrhoea, brought on by the rainy season, is currently making matters worse."
Children Having Children, Missing Out On Their Childhood
The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
January 11, 2006
Posted to the web January 11, 2006
If we can get it right for children by delivering on our commitments, we can get it right for everyone". This is a statement made by the UNICEF" Representative in Malawi, Aida Girma.
Referring to the state of the World's Children report for 2006, Grima said the theme for the report "Excluded and invisible" highlights the plight of millions of children who have not been beneficiaries of past gains.
Because of cultural beliefs and practices, abuse, peer pressure, financial difficulties and other reasons, girls as young as thirteen and sadly sometimes even younger, have become pregnant.
This has been instrumental in girls dropping out of school and getting married at an early age.
Becoming the wife of, oftentimes a much older man means the girls miss out on the chance of a better education and on benefiting from programmes that aim to enhance the life of the girl child.
Taking on the responsibilities of a wife excludes her from accessing programmes which organisations such as UNICEF, UNFPA, government and others provide to benefit the girl child.
Loveness* is a very young mother. Her baby is about eight months.
Looking at her with the baby one would be forgiven to think that she is taking care of her sibling.
It is not until she pulls out her breast to feed the crying baby that you realise the baby is her own.
Sitting and chatting with Ida* the mother of Loveness and other women close by, we marvel at the way Loveness is such an able mother at this tender age. The women agree that Ida has done a good job of teaching Loveness to be a good mother.
Ida says, where it should be a pleasure to be a grandmother; the birth of the baby has brought on added hardship for her family. "Loveness is very young and she had many problems to deliver the baby.
She had the baby last year and she just turned fourteen years after the baby was born," she says.
Ida explains that the birth was very difficult and has left Loveness with other problems. A cut (that was made in order to help her deliver continues to cause problems.
She is also has constant pain in the back which at time makes it difficult for her to walk.
According to Ida, her daughter went to school one morning and never came back home. Through the grapevine her mother heard that she was pregnant and living with a man. Asked if she knew the man. Ida chooses not to answer. One of the other women responds saying: "A phunzitsi a anawa opanda kalidwe ndithu," (some teachers have no respect). "The father to the baby is too busy to take care of her because he found she is constantly not so well. When she continued to be sick after the baby, he just returned her to me like she is just katundu (a chattel)," Ida explains
Loveness spends most of her time sitting outside on the khonde with the baby nearby, watching other young girls her age play games, chat amongst themselves and have fun One cannot resist the urge to wonder what Loveness truly feels about the whole thing.
"I miss going to school and the chance to be with other people my age.
My friends feel that I am now a mother and we have nothing to talk about," Loveness says. She adds that she is even excluded from games they always played together. Her wish is to return to school and continue with her education. "I wish to go back to school and learn new things, but even if my mother helped me with caring for the baby, the pain in my back and the discomfort of the wound will make it difficult for me to learn properly" she says.
The future for Loveness dose not look very bright and the expression on her face tells a story of hopelessness and despondency.
Loveness is a casualty of the dangers of early pregnancy. Her young body did not respond well to the strain of carrying a baby. If she is to get better, she will have to pay endless visits to the hospital and spend resources and finances to correct the damage done.
Encouraging young girls to stay in school and delay, for as long as possible their first sexual experience and relationship is one strategy to stop young girls from becoming pregnant at such an early age.
Early pregnancies are common in much of sub-Saharan Africa. Preventable deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth continues unabated in the region and a concerted campaign to right the wrongs to the innocent girl child needs to be undertaken with some urgency.
Indeed, if we can just get it right for children by delivering on our commitments made on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) relating to children and the girl child, then we can all agree with UNICEF's Aida Girma that we can get it right for everyone - far into the future.
HRCC Suspicious of Mutharika's Invitation
The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
January 11, 2006
Posted to the web January 11, 2006
An invitation extended to all MPs to join State President Bingu wa Mutharika's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has been described by the Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) as "dangerous" as it could lead the country back to the politics of the single party rule.
On New Year's Day, while recounting how his government performed in 2005, Mutharika pleaded with the people not to allow their MPs to waste another whole year bickering on political issues. He then turned and appealed to parliamentarians to join his DPP so that together, they could serve the people who elected them. "We are continuing to open our doors to those Members of Parliament who wish to work with the government to bring about development and prosperity to their constituencies," said Mutharika.
HRCC says the response to Mutharika's invitation could be a heavy influx of MPs from various opposition political parties to the DPP.
HRCC's Rogers Newa said in a Press Release (full text published on page ) last Thursday that while the committee beholds that policies of the Mutharika administration require the support of parliament, the committee position is that it is not necessarily that there should be a movement of MPs from other parties to the DPP that matters. "It is disturbing to see a heavy exodus of MPs from the political parties that sponsored them to the new DPP," said Newa.
He argued that the tendency of defecting to DPP will in the end render the opposition in parliament weak and useless. "Such blind influx would in the end make the DPP the only serious party in Malawi. Effectively, the current political direction has the potential of making Malawi a one party state," he said.
He argued that since 'supporting the government' is the reason all the MPs who have moved to DPP are giving, the view of HRCC is that all the MPs, whether sponsored by opposition political parties or not, are, in the legislature and effectively constitute and are part and parcel of government. "They can support government without necessarily defecting to the DPP," contends Newa.
Rumphi West MP Edward Zizwa Munthali, one of the latest legislators to say he will work with government told The Chronicle that it was wrong to conclude that one has to defect to DPP when he says he will support government. "I was summoned by chiefs in my constituency who told me that I must join the government and I told this to my party who deliberately distorted and confused the whole thing," he said.
Munthali insisted that he remains an Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) MP despite his party saying otherwise.
Nonetheless, HRCC claims the main reason for the exodus is rooted in greed and prostitution. "Those MPs that abandon their parties for DPP are not necessarily doing so with the interest to serve in Government. The majority of such MPs are the same that moved about, even during the Muluzi administration," he said.
HRCC said the other major source of exodus is the immature leadership in some of the opposition political parties like that in AFORD and argued that it is not true that effective opposition means pulling down a legitimate Government.
Newa argued that an effective opposition means the ability to isolate bad from good and wrong from right and to offer an effective alternative to enable Government to serve the people better. "An effective opposition is that which is constructive. It is essential in the oversight role of Parliament which has a responsibility to provide effective oversight to the dealings of the executive arm and the judiciary." Newa therefore applauded what HRCC called 'brave MPs' who have resisted the temptation for political opportunism and encouraged them to continue exercising what it called 'their freedom of conscience' and offer constructive opposition to Government.
Government Demands Apology
The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)
January 11, 2006
Posted to the web January 11, 2006
Government is demanding an unconditional apology from the National Institute for Southern Africa (NAMISA) and Church and Society of CCAP, Blantyre Synod for accusing it of initiating the arrest of the Nation Publication Limited Senior Reporter, Mabvuto Banda on January 2 without verifying circumstances behind the alleged arrest.
Information and Tourism Minister, Patricia Kaliati told MANA in an interview on Wednesday, it was surprising that the issue, which involved Mabvuto Banda and owner of a car hire company, was surprisingly being blamed on government.
Kaliati said it was unfortunate for NAMISA and the Blantyre Synod to accuse government of infringing on press freedom when the issue had nothing to do with press freedom or journalism practice. "Can you tell me that defaulting payment for hiring a car is the same as practising journalism? Should police fail to carry out their duties because someone is a journalist", she questioned. "The law does not see that this person is a journalist or a minister like my self. Whoever is found on the wrong side of the law, the police deal with that one, as was the case with Banda," she added.
Kaliati also said government has no problem with Banda although NAMISA and Blantyre Synod wish to cry foul without establishing the real cause of the alleged arrest.
The outspoken Minister advised the two organizations to stop interfering with the work of the police as they are the ones who cry foul whenever there is a security problem.
In their Tuesday editions, The Daily Times and The Nation carried stories on Banda's arrest. The two newspapers reported that police in Lilongwe on Monday forced Banda to disembark from an Ethiopian Airlines plane at Kamuzu International Airport as he was about to fly to London in the United Kingdom because of an outstanding compliant lodged against him on an unpaid bill for car hire services he had enjoyed.
The Daily Times of Wednesday quoted the Church and Society Executive Director, Billy Mayaya as condemning the arrest and calling on the police to show more restraint before arresting people anyhow.
NAMISA also condemned the arrest saying police harassed and infringed on Banda's rights.
Kaliati challenged the Church and Society saying they need to apologize without reservations if it is a truly Christian organization that preaches truth and honesty.
NAMISA's Research and Information Officer, Innocent Chitosi declined to comment on the demand for an apology by the government, saying NAMISA will come up with a statement on the issue.
Tembo blames MCP confusion on Kutsaira, Kalebe
by Gedion Munthali, 12 January 2006 - 04:43:48
MCP President John Tembo has reportedly accused two of his close allies Binton Kutsaira and Ted Kalebe of bringing confusion in the party through their dealings with the Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) a body of all parties in Parliament.
An MCP MP confided in The Nation on Monday that Tembo levelled the accusations against the two MPs*Kutsaira for Lilongwe Nsinja North and Kalebe for Lilongwe North East* at a caucus of MCP MPs he held at his Area 10 residence in Lilongwe on Friday last week.
The two were among the MPs that did not attend the four-hour caucus, according to the MP.
We corroborated the information with four other MPs who attended the caucus.
Sources close to the duo said they were in Mangochi attending a meeting of CMD.
Tembo called the meeting, according to the MPs, following a letter purportedly written by 39 of the party's MPs a fortnight ago expressing their misgivings with his leadership and management style.
"He said the letter was the work of confusionists being led by Hon. Kutsaira and Hon. Kalebe," said one MP. "He claimed the two were working under some outside forces to bring trouble in the MCP by wooing MPs with money."
The meeting was attended by nearly 40 MPs.
Another MP said Tembo told the meeting that as part of his gimmicks to cause confusion in the party, Kutsaira at one point last year brought a list of 20 MCP MPs to attend a meeting sponsored by the Institute for Multiparty Democracy (IMD), an institution that sponsors CMD.
"He said he trimmed it to 10 MPs because he did not understand where the MPs were going," said the MP who is also a member of the national executive committee of the party.
The MP added that Tembo also told the caucus that Kutsaira had poisoned even the mind of his wife who, he said according to the parliamentarian, was speaking against his leadership.
"He said that Kutsaira's wife has been telling people that he (Tembo) is a bad leader," said the MP.
Kutsaira declined to comment on the issue.
Another MP who is Kutsaira's close ally said the way Tembo spoke at the meeting showed the relationship between he and the two MPs had soured.
"He spoke quite harshly about the two honourable MPs," said the MP.
Problems with Kutsaira, the MP said, started once he got involved with CMD. He chairs it.
"It appears the president has deliberately chosen to misunderstand the initiative or he just has other problems with the two. I am saying this because CMD's objectives are quite clear. They include providing funding to political parties through projects they submit to IMD," said the MP.
He added: "Actually four MCP projects, including our last convention, have been funded by the institution."
The MP confirmed that Kutsaira, who is a projects coordinator for MCP projects under the IMD Initiative, drew a list of 20 MPs to attend a strategic planning workshop in Liwonde which was aimed at coming up with potential projects that could be submitted for funding.
"The list was indeed trimmed to 10, and I was lucky to have been one of those who attended it," said the MP.
The MP also wondered why the issue of Kutsaira's wife was brought in the caucus.
"I mean how could our leader bring an issue of gossip into the meeting," wondered the MP.
Kalebe could not reached for his comment as his phone was out of reach for two days.
Tembo also could not be reached for his comment on the issue. But he spoke through the MCP spokesman Nicholas Dausi who confirmed that the caucus indeed took place in Lilongwe at the said venue and day.
"According to the president, the meeting went well. There were no problems. He has also said apart from Kasungu North East MP Rodger Sithole who declared himself independent, the party is intact," said Dausi.
Dausi said his party boss declined to comment on the allegations against Kutsaira and Kalebe.
"He said internal matters of the MCP are not for public consumption. But rest assured, he said, the party is intact," said Dausi.
Some lecturers get K18,000
by Isaac Masingati, 12 January 2006 - 05:47:00
Some lecturers of the University of Malawi receive a gross salary of K18,375 per month, it has been learnt.
Representatives of the University Academic Members of Staff and Welfare Committee made the revelation at a press conference in Blantyre on Wednesday.
The representatives have also accused government of playing hide-and-seek with their salary increase and have warned that only a rise will persuade them not to go on strike next week.
The press conference was organised to dispute a government statement that the university staff were being unrealistic in demanding a 500% salary increase.
Chancellor College Academic Staff Union president Jessie Kabwila-Kapasula said it was evident that lecturers in Malawi were living below the poverty line and that they were struggling to survive.
She said a starting gross salary for an associate staff was K18,375 per month; a lecturer receives K27,722 and that the highest position for academic staff, that of professor, attracts K62,819 while the lowest is K2,452 for support staff.
All academic and administrative staff also get a K11,000 professional allowance and housing allowance.
Kapasula wondered how government could always blame national calamities like hunger on its failure to review university salaries when it was wasting resources paying for ministers trips within and outside the country.
Polytechnic Academic Staff Committee On Welfare (Pascow) president Benard Thole said university employees had been too patient for their salary rise to be called unrealistic.
Thole said government should blame itself for failing to meet its obligations of providing right remuneration to its employees, saying for three years now they had no salary increase.
"It is government that hired a consultant to find out right salaries for staff. The consultant says we are 1000% below our wages and when we demand half of that you say we are being unrealistic?
"We trust we have been as good as any other patriotic citizen and we believe this matter could be resolved without the strike if government was willing to do so," said Thole.
Thole said despite their attempt to meet with government through Ministry of Labour, there had not been any indication from government to resolve their differences peacefully.
Registrar of the University of Malawi Benedicto Wokomaatani Malunga said he was concerned with the strike but that there was very little his office could do because all salary recommendations were with Treasury.
But he said the complications were too serious to risk a strike.
Malunga said the strike may delay the calendar of Chancellor College and Malawi Polytechnic by two years and that education students currently on teaching practicals could be withdrawn thereby delaying their graduation.
"Already the two colleges are a year behind schedule and we cannot afford another delay," said Malunga.
Malunga said in the case of Bunda, students will miss the growing season and will end up with graduates of less quality.
The university registrar said the College of Medicine would lose revenue from international students should they consider not to come again once the strike delays the college opening.
"These are but a few of the effects the impending strike could bring and the main victim is the nation," said Malunga.
"The key to resolution of this issue rests with government," said Malunga.
Acting secretary to Treasury Patrick Kabambe could not be reached for comment on his cell phone but he said last week he had made recommendations to Ministry of Finance.
Stansfield powers Likoma boat
by Nation Reporter, 12 January 2006 - 05:42:08
Stansfield Motors Limited has powered an 80-seater boat built by Mpwepwe Boatyard Company under the Malawi Social Action Fund (Masaf) project to be used in ferrying people between Likoma Island on Lake Malawi and the mainland.
Stansfield Motors said in a statement on Wednesday the boat, measuring 10.6 metres long, is the largest transport boat to be built by the privatised Mpwepwe Boatyard Company.
The boat, according to Stansfield Motors, is powered by a 60HP Yamaha inboard engine
The launching commissioning ceremony, held in Mangochi, was attended by Trade and Private Sector Development Minister Martin Kansichi, Stansfield Managing Director David Grimes and Yamaha Sales Representative Gertrude Luhanga, among other dignitaries.
In a related development, Luhanga said in the statement Stansfield is currently discussing with Mpwepwe Boatyard to appoint it as Yamaha outboard and inboard engines dealer to service customers along the lakeshore.
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