- BJ risks bankruptcy by Henry Chilobwe, 24 January 2006 - 04:50:27 UDF co-opted executive member Brown Mpinganjira, one of the presidential candidates in theMessage 1 of 1046 , Jan 24, 2006View SourceBJ risks bankruptcy
by Henry Chilobwe, 24 January 2006 - 04:50:27
UDF co-opted executive member Brown Mpinganjira, one of the presidential candidates in the 2004 general elections, risks being declared bankrupt if he does not settle a sum of K400,000 ( about $3,000 )in rentals owed to Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) which have accrued over an unspecified number of years.
James Masumbu, lawyer representing MHC, confirmed on Monday that he filed the bankruptcy notice against Mpinganjira on Friday.
If MHC succeeds in its cause, Mpinganjira*who is also Mulanje Central MP (independent)*risks being barred from contesting for any election for a public office for seven years, according to Section 51 (2) (d) of the Republican Constitution.
In part, the said section says that "any person who is an undischarged bankrupt, having been adjudged or otherwise declared bankrupt under any law in force in Malawi shall not be qualified to be nominated or elected as a Member of Parliament."
Masumbu said Mpinganjira said has 21 days from the day he was served with the notice to pay back the money and other legal fees or be declared bankrupt.
"This is the money that he owes Malawi Housing Corporation through unpaid rentals for a house he occupied years and years ago. But, as of now, he has not indicated to us any intention to challenge the notice," he said.
But Mpinganjira yesterday denied owing MHC any money and branded the bankruptcy notice as a form of political persecution.
He said the issue of unpaid rentals was resolved a long time ago and that the person who owes MHC rentals for the said house is already paying the corporation by instalments.
"When you look at the timing, it is very interesting, especially when you speak what you want and do not toe somebody's line. But, at my age and level, I cannot stoop so low as to dance to somebody's whims," said Mpinganjira in a telephone interview from the High Court where he went to meet his lawyers.
He said he would also issue a statement on the issue by Monday evening.
A bankruptcy noticed filed at the High court and published by The Nation and The Daily Times on Monday read: "Take notice, that a bankruptcy notice has been issued against you in this court by Malawi Housing Corporation...and the Court has ordered that the advertisement of the bankruptcy notice together with a sealed copy of the order for substituted service by publication of this notice in The Daily Times/The Nation newspaper shall be deemed to be service of the bankruptcy notice against you. The bankruptcy notice can be inspected by you upon application."
MHC Public Relations Officer Lucy Kapito also confirmed that the corporation instructed its lawyer to file a notice of bankruptcy following Mpinganjira's failure to pay rentals that "have accumulated since a long time ago."
She said Mpinganjira rented a house from one of MHC's estates in Lilongwe but pointed out that he no longer occupies it.
She did not have details on how long Mpinganjira occupied the house or the year he moved out of it.
Govt proposes bill to curb domestic violence
by Lucas Bottoman, 24 January 2006 - 05:03:59
Government has said it has proposed a new bill to curb domestic violence perpetrated to women and children by, among other things, suggests opening households to public scrutiny in a bid to prevent cases of domestic violence which have been on the rise in recent weeks as evidenced by media reports.
Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Henry Phoya told a news conference on Friday that his ministry and the Ministry of Gender, Child Welfare and Community Services, moved by the number of incidences of violence against women and children, decided to take up the issue to combat this menace in societies.
"It is for this reason that government will, subject to cabinet approval, soon propose to Parliament a Bill to curb domestic violence. The Bill, if passed into law by Parliament, is intended to open households to public scrutiny for purposes only of preventing domestic violence and holding offenders accountable to the law for their violent acts or omissions," said Phoya.
He said the proposed new bill comes in because traditionally domestic disputes are regarded as private matters even if they result in physical or sexual abuse, hence there has been very little done by civil law on such cases.
"The bill will seek to change the perception which considers as culturally inappropriate for an infringed spouse to disclose family problems to outsiders as this embarrasses the victim, her family and community. It will empower the victims to seek the protection of government and the courts in times of either physical or sexual abuse," said Phoya.
Phoya said the new law shall complement the existing criminal laws contained in the Penal Code such as Section 235 which deals, among other things, with acts intended to cause grievous harm.
"So the man who chopped off the arms of the woman from Dowa could be liable under this section. There is no doubt in my mind that the act amounted to causing grievous harm. The punishment for this offence is life imprisonment. As soon as he is arrested, the case will be referred to the Director for Public Prosecution for action," said Phoya.
Gender, Child Welfare and Community Services Minister Joyce Banda expressed sadness that the man who hacked his ex-wife's arms is still at large.
"There could be nothing more pleasing to a victimised woman or girl than to see the culprit behind the bars," said Banda.
Banda said her ministry has embarked on a sensitisation campaign to let the communities be aware of the major causes and effects of violence against women and children.
"In addition, my ministry has also embarked on a project to establish three rehabilitation centres, one in each region to operate as drop-in centres fro victimized women and children. These centres will offer multi-pronged trauma related treatment to victims of various forms of abuse," said Banda
Banda said the major services to be offered in these centres will include a 24-hour toll-free hotline phone for victims to report incidences of abuse; counselling, psycho-social care and support to the victimised women and children; life skills and income generation training and rehabilitation as well as resettlement through economic empowerment.
Banda also said her ministry has set aside a special K22 million fund to be given to victims after rehabilitation either in form of loans or grants depending on the nature and magnitude of harm caused to them.
Speaker, House out of Section 65 case
by Olivia Kumwenda, 24 January 2006 - 05:03:01
The Constitutional Court in Blantyre on Monday ruled that the Speaker of Parliament and the National Assembly cannot be allowed to be heard in the case where President Bingu wa Mutharika asked the court to interpret Section 65 of the Constitution as they are not legal or juristic persons.
The court also ruled that Speaker Louis Chimango had no authority to hire private lawyers*Titus Mvalo and Kalekeni Kaphale*to represent his office and the House in the matter without being instructed by the Attorney General (AG) Ralph Kasambara as stipulated in Section 98 (2) of the constitution.
Mutharika asked the court to interpret Section 65 (i) of the Constitution which empowers the Speaker to declare vacant a seat of an MP who has voluntarily ceased to be a member of a party that sponsored him/her into the House or who has joined another political party represented in the National Assembly or any grouping of political nature.
Chimango was to pass a verdict on MPs deemed to have crossed the floor but was stopped by the court after government obtained an injunction seeking interpretation of the said Section.
However, the Speaker and the National Assembly applied for the dismissal of the application to interpret the Section.
But before the hearing on the application started, preliminary issues were raised including whether the Speaker, in that capacity and the National Assembly, had proper standing to be heard in the matter and whether the two can be heard through lawyers other than those acting on the instructions of the AG.
In their ruling, the three-judge panel Edward Twea, Healey Potani and Jane Ansah unanimously agreed that the Speaker and the National Assembly cannot be heard in the matter.
"The Honourable Speaker and the National Assembly, as opposed to the Speaker as a person and the various political parties in the National Assembly, are not legal or juristic persons, as such this court holds the view that they have no standing to be heard in the matter," said Potani who read the judgement on behalf of the trio.
He also said that the AG had demonstrated that he had not instructed lawyers appearing for the Speaker and the National Assembly in the matter.
"There is need to follow certain procedures as laid down in the Public Procurement Act which was not complied with in this case. Counsel appearing for the applicants cannot act for the applicants they purport to represent in this matter," ruled Potani.
After the ruling, lawyer Tamando Chokotho*who was standing in for Kaphale and Mvalo*applied for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court which the judges granted him.
Man in for infecting girl, 14, with HIV
by Lucas Bottoman, 24 January 2006 - 05:49:06
Police in Mchinji have arrested a 35 year-old businessman for allegedly deliberately infecting a 14-year-old girl with HIV*the virus that causes Aids.
Mchinji Police Station spokesperson Felix Chisakasa said on Sunday the accused, Geoffrey Steven, who owns a grocery shop at Kapiri Trading Centre in the district, is alleged to have been having unprotected sex with the victim while he knew of his sero-status.
Chisakasa said it is further alleged that the accused used to give the girl K100 every time he slept with her.
Police quoted the victim as saying that she was first enticed when she was sent by her aunt to buy groceries from Steven.
"The first day the accused grabbed the girl and had sex with her. At the end of it she was given K100 so that she could keep it as a secret," said Chisakasa.
He said the aunt decided to take the girl for an HIV test because she fell ill frequently, a thing that raised suspicion in the aunt about the girl's sero-status.
"After the test, the girl was found HIV positive," said Chisakasa.
A day after the HIV test, the aunt found the girl with the businessman and when pinned down, the girl revealed she had a long sexual relationship with the man.
Chisakasa added that the girl's guardian claimed to have confronted the man and he allegedly boasted about his sero-status saying that he intentionally infected the girl.
The police have a copy of the HIV test results.
Police said Steven will answer the charge of knowingly transmitting sexually transmitted disease to the victim.
Malawi Unveils Us$8.3 Million Science Plan
January 23, 2006
Posted to the web January 23, 2006
Malawi has launched a comprehensive five-year plan intended to foster rapid industrialisation through the use of science and technology.
The plan, announced on 19 January, is the first of its kind, has a budget of one billion kwachas (US$8.3 million), and places a heavy emphasis on popularising science.
The money will be spent in four main areas: capacity building (US$3.5 million), promoting and popularising science (US$2.3 million), developing and commercialising research (US$1.5 million) and administration (US$1 million).
It will be in addition to the ministry of science's annual budget, and Malawi will ask international donor agencies to partly fund the activities.
Under the plan, the ministry will develop policies to support research and development and the transfer of technology from industrialised nations. In particular, public-private partnerships will be encouraged to achieve these goals.
The way that science is taught in Malawi's schools and universities will also be reviewed and improved.
Launching the plan, science minister John Khumbo Chirwa said the time had come for Malawi to use science and technology as a tool for creating wealth. But he added that for science to become a driving force behind Malawi's development, his ministry would need both additional funding and greater political support.
The ministry, which was created in 2004, will ask the finance ministry to increase Malawi's research spending to one per cent of its GDP -- to about US$2 million -- in the 2006 budget. Currently Malawi spends around US$1.2 million on science.
In a related development, Malawi will in the coming year begin building its first university dedicated to science and technology.
Zimbabwe makes another payment to IMF
24 January 2006 09:14
Zimbabwe has paid another $15-million toward clearing its overdue debt with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a state-controlled newspaper reported on Tuesday as a fact-finding team from the international lender was due to arrive in the country.
The Herald reported that Zimbabwe paid $10-million at the end of December and another $5-million last week as it fights to pay off its IMF obligations during an economic crisis.
The payments left Zimbabwe owing $14,6-million under the IMF's general resources account, which has to be paid by March. Arrears under the account can result in expulsion of a member country.
The Herald said the payments were made ahead of Tuesday's IMF visit as well as the March meeting of the IMF executive board, during which Zimbabwe and any sanctions against it are expected to top the agenda.
Zimbabwe owes another $125-million under the IMF's poverty reduction and growth facility. Last year, the Southern African country paid $169-million toward clearing its overdue debt, which dates back to February 2001.
"Given the intricacy of the pressures confronting the country, particularly on the foreign-currency front, the tremendous efforts to meet the IMF payments have been a long-range marathon which Zimbabwe has to push through to the touch line," central bank official Munyaradzi Kereke told the Herald.
Zimbabwe is keen to resuscitate lines of credit from the IMF, which last loaned money to Zimbabwe in 1999.
Hard-currency shortages over the past six years have resulted in damaging shortages of fuel and power, while the country has battled to pay for other vital imports required by nearly every sector of the economy.
Local economic commentators said Zimbabwe's chances of qualifying for more IMF loans are still a long way off. The government's programme of seizing white-owned farms under a controversial land-redistribution programme launched in 2000 is seen as a major stumbling block because it has scared away investors.
The programme has seen a steep decline in agricultural production, once the country's economic backbone. The United Nations estimated that more than three million Zimbabweans are currently in need of emergency food aid. -- Sapa-dpa
- 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 byMessage 1046 of 1046 , May 22, 2006View Source
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