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  • Christine Chumbler
    Malawi Watch warns against Speaker s ouster by Henry Chilobwe, 30 January 2006 - 06:05:44 Malawi Watch, a civil society organisation, has said that the
    Message 1 of 1046 , Jan 31, 2006
      Malawi Watch warns against Speaker's ouster
      by Henry Chilobwe, 30 January 2006 - 06:05:44
      Malawi Watch, a civil society organisation, has said that the proposed impeachment of Speaker of the National Assembly Louis Chimango does not have the blessing of Malawians and has warned that the move will likely throw the nation into another political turmoil.
      The organisation's executive director Billy Banda said Sunday proponents of the said impeachment should have borrowed a leaf and learnt a lesson from what happened when some people wanted to impeach President Mutharika.
      He said the Democratic Progressive People's Party (DPP) which is said to be orchestrating the impeachment should not have been part of the plot, they themselves having been the target of an impeachment plot.
      "This will erode the sympathy they enjoyed from the people. If they want to impeach Chimango, people will not sympathise with President Bingu wa Mutharika if others draw the dagger against him. Surely the DPP should have been the last party to talk about impeachment and the nation needs a breather so that we can focus on development and nation building other than political bickering.
      "We agree that the Speaker has not conducted himself properly and has shown bias in the way he conducts Parliamentary business. We have written him to change that behaviour and he has not acknowledged our concern but the answer to that cannot be impeachment," said Banda and added that the period Chimango has been in office is too short for a fair assessment of his performance.
      The Weekend Nation on Saturday revealed that the DPP is planning the Speaker's downfall by impeachment allegedly because he frustrates government business in the House and that he leans more towards the opposition. DPP spokesperson Hetherwick Ntaba however denied there are such plans on the ground but said he would not be surprised if others are propagating Chimango's impeachment because of his bias.


      UDF gurus want presidency back
      by Bright Sonani, 31 January 2006 - 08:17:13
      United Democratic Front (UDF) senior members have proposed that the party should bring back the position of the president in its constitution which has not been there since the former head of state Bakili Muluzi became chairman.
      A highly placed source said during a meeting in Mangochi recently the senior members, however, resolved to maintain the position of chairman and that the one elected as president should not automatically qualify as the party's candidate.
      They also resolved that the position of vice president should be split into three to include vice president responsible for women affairs and also one responsible for the youths.
      But a political analyst has warned that if maintaining the chairmanship is meant to keep Muluzi in power then the UDF was creating a recipe for a disaster.
      Party Spokesperson Sam Mpasu in an interview on Monday confirmed that the party gurus held the meeting but declined to give details.
      "We met in Mangochi to have a strategic plan for the party. We will make submissions to national executive committee which would endorse what has been agreed. Nothing so far is concrete," said Mpasu.
      One of the senior members, who attended the meeting, said among the issues they discussed the forthcoming party convention which they have tentatively suggested that it should be either soon before the budget session of Parliament or soon after.
      "The main issue was that we want the presidency back in the constitution because all along it was taken for granted that the party's candidate was automatically its president and that is why we had a problem when President Bingu wa Mutharika left because he created a vacuum. This time around we are saying that the president should not be an automatic candidate," he said.
      The official said the meeting resolved that the party should hold a convention a year before every election to choose a candidate in which even an incumbent president would have a chance to contest against the other candidates.
      "If the president impresses then it would be easier for him," he said.
      The official said they have also proposed that the president should have three deputies, one as the first vice while two deputies would be responsible for women and the youths.
      He also disclosed that the meeting has decided to maintain the position of chairman, with Muluzi still holding the position while the elections at the convention will only be open for the position of first and second vice chairman.
      "The aim of the convention is to fill gaps and any other position which is vacant would be open for contest. The idea of the whole exercise is to clean up the party and give it a corporate image and allow new people to come in," he said.
      Chancellor College Political analyst Boniface Dulani said as much as it was a welcome idea to have a president and chairman in the party the idea would assist the party if the president is given more powers than the chairman.
      "The idea seems to give more powers to the national chairman and that is a recipe for disaster, it seems the party president is just a nominal position with nothing to do. If the party clings to the idea that UDF is Muluzi and Muluzi is UDF, I don't think the clean up exercise will clean the party. If anything it will end up bringing more dirt into their house," said Dulani.
      He said if the party wants real cleansing, it should undergo serious soul searching.
      According to two sources, those who attended the meeting among several others included Lilian Patel, who is chairperson of the organizing committee of the convention, Mpasu, Friday Jumbe, Phillip Bwanali, Lucius Banda, Aina Mezalumo, Hophmally Makande, Humphrey Mvula, Kennedy Makwangwala and Dr James Maida.


      Govt gives vendors one week
      by Henry Chilobwe, 31 January 2006 - 08:20:57
      Government has given vendors a one-week grace period before forcing them out of the streets, Local Government and Rural Administration Minister George Chaponda has said.
      Chaponda said Monday the government has not relented on its earlier stance to clean up the cities but said some of the vendors had asked for more time before they could get to their new business places.
      He said government has designated certain areas in the cities to accommodate the vendors that may not find space in the flea markets and warned that his ministry will not take any excuse after the expiry of the one week.
      "We are just acting on humanitarian grounds. We are negotiating with them to move out so when they ask for some favours we need to listen to them because we are not forcing them out. We are working with them to improve the faces of our towns because in the whole Sadc region Malawi has the dirtiest towns and cities but so far the process has gone smoothly and the vendors are very cooperative," said Chaponda.
      Chaponda said vendors in Limbe will be removed from the streets and ply their trade at the open ground adjacent to the main market while in Blantyre the vendors are expected to occupy the flea market.
      He also said people who own carpentry and other metal workshops and hardware stalls in Blantyre market will be relocated to other outpost markets such as Ndirande and leave the market for farm produce only.
      In Lilongwe the vendors are expected to occupy a strip of land between the Old Town market and Malangalanga which government has already started preparing, according to Chaponda.
      But some of the vendors have expressed their reluctance to move out of the streets into the purpose-built flea market saying it can only accommodate 400 of them.
      Chairperson of one of the zones in Blantyre Mike Ibrahim said the vendors will not move into the designated places even if it means arrests because government had breached its contract with the vendors.
      "We were taken on a study tour to Zimbabwe where we saw how a flea market is built and site it is supposed to be on. The structure we have here is not the one we agreed, this resembles a herbalists' shack in Zimbabwe.
      "Secondly the site is bad, we have been dumped to a place where not many people are interested to visit and our business may suffer," said Ibrahim.
      But other vendors said those who have agreed to move out of the streets are the sympathisers of the current government.
      Towards the end of last year the minister gave city assemblies up to 31 January as the deadline to remove all the vendors from the streets or risk unspecified action.


      Education needs overhaul *Headmasters
      by Isaac Masingati, 31 January 2006 - 08:22:12
      Secondary school heads in the Southern Region have asked government to do a complete overhaul of the education system if the sector is to regain its lost glory.
      The head teachers were meeting Minister of Education Kate Kainja-Kaluluma in Blantyre Monday to discuss ways of improving education standards in the country.
      Contributing to the discussions, the school heads said there was need to look into school syllabus and curriculum, school infrastructure, human resource and students themselves.
      One of the heads from Thyolo said the education system was producing people who have difficulties communicating in English because the current secondary school syllabus puts less emphasis on literature.
      "How do you expect such pupils to score good grades in other subjects when they cannot read and write English effectively," he challenged.
      Other contributors asked government to provide boarding facilities in community day secondary schools to accommodate girls, arguing that many of them were dropping from school because of long distances to learning institutions and domestic responsibilities.
      They also asked government to build decent houses for school teachers most of whom, they said, stay in dilapidated village houses.
      The headtachers said government should treat their concerns with urgency.
      Kainja-Kaluluma admitted the education sector needs urgent government attention, saying a lot of factors were responsible for the fall of education quality.
      Kainja-Kaluluma said poor learning materials, unqualified teachers and poor infrastructures were some of the factors.
      She said head teachers across the country had complained that there were inadequate learning materials in secondary schools and that pupils were sharing books.
      Kainja-Kaluluma also said there was a general complaint among school heads that the syllabus was not conducive to getting productive school leavers.
      She, therefore, said government would look into the secondary and primary syllabi to see how they can be improved, build more class rooms to cater for pupils who learn under trees and provide schools with sufficient learning materials.
      "In the next two years we should be able to rectify all these problems and bring education back on track," said Kainja.
      Kainja-Kaluluma said government would starting this year be provide funding to individual schools so that they are able to purchase their own learning materials in time.
      She also said the reactivation of all teachers training schools would ensure that there are enough teachers to meet demand which, she said, had been aggravated by the introduction of free primary education in 1994 and eventual shooting up of figures.


      Rate of gender*based violence sickening-Police
      by Herbert Chandilanga, 31 January 2006 - 08:59:01
      The rate and form of reported gender-based violence cases has reached "sickening and saddening" levels, out-going Regional Community Policing Coordinator for the South George Kainja has observed.
      Kainja, speaking on Friday at a Southern Region Community Policing stakeholders meeting in Limbe, said the culture of male-dominance is highly responsible for the situation and that the Police was trying to institute all ways possible to curb the problem.
      A report presented during the meeting, among other things, showed that 4.5 percent increase in the number of reported crimes from 22,331 in 2004 to 23,353.
      On the crime increase, Constable Jacquiline De Silva said the hunger situation was one of the causes because about 60 percent of the offences were of need, often petty and driven by want of necessities like food.
      She bemoaned the lack of enough police officers in the region currently at 2,338 which gives a ratio of approximately one police officer to 1,137 civilians.
      "This is against the international and standard police to population ratio of one officer to 500 civilians," she said.
      Kainja added that the shift of people from a culture of suffering in silence to that of reporting crimes is also another cause for the increase.
      The report noted major problems like the spate of gender-based violence, lack of resources, non-conformity of policing standards in the districts involved, pockets of police officers who cannot lead by example, HIV and Aids that is claiming personnel, and the dormancy of some local assemblies.
      It also suggested solutions that emphasised on crime prevention than intervention.


      Windmill-operated treadle pumps to increase production
      by Simon Mbvundula , 31 January 2006 - 09:08:51
      Bunda College of Agriculture, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, has stressed the need to utilise expertise in technology as a long-term solution to averting hunger which is ravaging most parts of the country.
      College Principal George Kanyama Phiri said this when he closed a two-week welding training on Friday that hunger in Malawi is a result of environmental degradation and over-population, situations that create scarcity of rain and cultivatable land.
      Kanyama Phiri said promotion of modified windmill-operated treadle pumps can, therefore, make hunger water under a bridge.
      He also decried the tendency of relying on rains for agriculture saying the trend was resulting into perennial hunger.
      "It is sad that a lot of water is left idle because people rely on rains. After research, we came up with the windmill idea that operates more than twice the manual operated treadle pumps which if promoted, hunger will be a song of the past," said Kanyama Phiri.
      Participants to the training made their own treadle pumps and windmills which Kanyama Phiri said are user friendly to women and more efficient than the imported ones.
      Elisha Vitsitsi, Head of the Agricultural Engineering Department at Bunda, said the windmill-operated treadle pumps will facilitate increased production. He said manual treadle pumps were difficult to operate especially amid the hunger.
      Malawi Social Action Fund (Masaf) Director of Community Enterprises Projects Christine Kamwendo said the workshop was a way of promoting agribusiness and a saving culture that will create prosperity among farmers.
      The thirteen participants came from Mzuzu, Kasungu and Nkhotakota gained skills in welding and maintenance of windmills and treadle pumps. Masaf funded the programme to the tune of K1 million.


      Muslim body, govt fight over maize
      by Zainah Liwanda, 31 January 2006 - 08:07:35
      The Muslim Association of Malawi (Mam) has accused government of snatching away the distribution role of maize Vice President Cassim Chilumpha solicited from Muslim organisations in South Africa last year.
      Mam Secretary General Mohammed Imran Shareef in an interview on Monday accused Agriculture Minister Uladi Mussa of "sabotaging" his association and recommended to the organisations that the maize be distributed by the Department of Disaster Preparedness.
      But Mussa has dismissed the allegations, saying it was the organisations themselves that wrote the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) indicating they wanted the maize to be distributed by government so that not only Muslims benefit.
      "When the government heard that we are getting maize from South Africa, they did their best using their machinery to sabotage the whole process. Let government do whatever it's doing. We only keep records that this is what is happening and these are the injustices being done to us," said Shareef
      Shareef said Mam has previously through government distributed relief food from countries such as Saudi Arabia and that it was wondering why this time around their efforts to participate in the exercise are being frustrated.
      According to Shareef, Mam does not believe in discrimination and treats Muslims and Christians as equal, adding past experience in relief distribution did not show any segregation.
      Shareef said that his organisation wrote OPC and gave a copy of the letter to Mussa asking to be included in the on the list of the organisations accredited by government to distribute maize.
      "What Mussa does is that because, he is a Muslim and in government, so he hijacks the whole process," added Shareef
      Shareef accused Mussa of taking advantage of being a Muslim to sweet-talk the organisations in South Africa.
      But Mussa said organisations such as the Institute of Islamic Services decided to give food through the OPC to be distributed to all the needy without discrimination since Islam does not allow it.
      "We received a letter from South Africa in that regard. All the organisations want to give food to the Government of Malawi and not individuals," said Mussa. "We received a letter from South Africa in that regard. All the organisations want to give food to the government of Malawi and not individuals"
      The minister said there are many religions in Malawi and that it was not proper for one organisation to distribute maize to one religious group.
      He then indicated that the maize would be in the country any time next week.
      Chilumpha last year solicited maize worth K100 million [about $800,000] from various South African Muslim organisations in view of the hunger crisis which Shareef said was to be distributed through Mam for easy contacts.


      Africa's hunger - a systemic crisis
      By Martin Plaut
      BBC Africa analyst

      More than half of Africa is now in need of urgent food assistance.

      The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is warning that 27 sub-Saharan countries now need help.

      But what appear as isolated disasters brought about by drought or conflict in countries like Somalia, Malawi, Niger, Kenya and Zimbabwe are - in reality - systemic problems.

      It is African agriculture itself that is in crisis, and according to the International Food Policy Research Institute, this has left 200 million people malnourished.

      It is particularly striking that the FAO highlights political problems such as civil strife, refugee movements and returnees in 15 of the 27 countries it declares in need of urgent assistance. By comparison drought is only cited in 12 out of 27 countries.

      The implication is clear - Africa's years of wars, coups and civil strife are responsible for more hunger than the natural problems that befall it.

      Critical issues

      In essence Africa's hunger is the product of a series of interrelated factors. Africa is a vast continent, and no one factor can be applied to any particular country. But four issues are critical:

      Decades of underinvestment in rural areas, which have little political clout.
      Africa's elites respond to political pressure, which is mainly exercised in towns and cities. This is compounded by corruption and mismanagement - what donors call a lack of sound governance.

      "Poor governance is a major issue in many African countries, and one that has serious repercussions for long-term food security," says a statement by the International Food Policy Research Institute.

      "Problems such as corruption, collusion and nepotism can significantly inhibit the capacity of governments to promote development efforts."

      Wars and political conflict, leading to refugees and instability.

      In 2004 the chairman of the African Union Commission, Alpha Oumar Konare, reminded an AU summit that the continent had suffered from 186 coups and 26 major wars in the past 50 years. It is estimated that there are more than 16 million refugees and displaced persons in Africa.
      Farmers need stability and certainty before they can succeed in producing the food their families and societies need.

      HIV/Aids depriving families of their most productive labour.

      This is particularly a problem in southern Africa, where over 30% of sexually active adults are HIV positive. According to aid agency Oxfam, when a family member becomes infected, food production can fall by up to 60%, as women are not only expected to be carers, but also provide much of the agricultural labour.

      Unchecked population growth

      "Sub-Saharan Africa 's population has grown faster than any region over the past 30 years, despite the millions of deaths from the Aids pandemic," the UN Population Fund says.

      "Between 1975 and 2005, the population more than doubled, rising from 335 to 751 million, and is currently growing at a rate of 2.2% a year."

      In some parts of Africa land is plentiful, and this is not a problem. But in others it has had severe consequences.

      It has forced farming families to subdivide their land time and again, leading to tiny plots or families moving onto unsuitable, overworked land.

      In the highlands of Ethiopia and Eritrea some land is now so degraded that there is little prospect that it will ever produce a decent harvest.

      This problem is compounded by the state of Africa's soils.

      In sub-Saharan Africa soil quality is classified as degraded in about 72% of arable land and 31% of pasture land.

      In addition to natural nutrient deficiencies in the soil, soil fertility is declining by the year through "nutrient mining", whereby nutrients are removed over the harvest period and lost through leaching, erosion or other means.

      Nutrient levels have declined over the past 30 years, says the International Food Policy Research Institute.


      The result is that a continent that was more than self sufficient in food at independence 50 years ago, is now a massive food importer. The book The African Food Crisis says that in less than 40 years the sub-continent went from being a net exporter of basic food staples to relying on imports and food aid.

      In 1966-1970, net exports averaged 1.3 million tons of food a year, it states.

      "By the late 1970s Africa imported 4.4 million tonnes of staple foods a year, a figure that had risen to 10 million tonnes by the mid 1980s."

      It said that since independence, agricultural output per capita remained stagnant, and in many places declined.

      Some campaigners and academics argue that African farmers will only be able to properly feed their families and societies when Western goods stop flooding their markets.


      A photo gallery of the food shortages in Malawi.
    • 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.


        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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