- Race for UDF presidency hots up
by Isaac Masingati, 02 February 2006 - 06:54:13
Barely a week after suggestions by UDF senior members to reintroduce the position of party president, the race for the hot seat is already on with aspirants lobbying for support.
Seven senior party members are said to have shown their interest to head the party ahead of the 2009 general elections although they will not be automatic presidential candidates.
They include former personal assistant on political affairs to former president Bakili Muluzi, Dr Size Bwanali; party spokesperson Sam Mpasu; sports minister in the former regime Moses Dossi; leader of UDF in Parliament Leonard Mangulama, UDF shadow Finance Minister Friday Jumbe; acting party chair and vice state president Cassim Chilumpha and former NDA leader Brown Mpinganjira.
Speaking in separate interviews, Bwanali and Dossi confirmed campaigning for the position, Mpasu reserved his comment, Mangulama denied lobbying while Chilumpha, Jumbe and Mpinganjira could not be reached.
Bwanali said the proposal for the change of the party constitution to reactivate the seat of president had come at an opportune time for a new generation of politicians to take over.
He, therefore, said he was already doing ground work to become UDF president should the party reintroduce the position in its constitution
"My interest comes from the people. They want me to lead the party and I cannot deny the people their wish having come from the people myself. I am lobbying yes," said Bwanali.
Bwanali said he was bracing for stiff competition but was not scared because he would use his political philosophy [he gave the former regime] to ascend to the seat of presidency.
The former political advisor said the UDF government had benefited a lot from his political intelligence and therefore sees nothing that can prevent him from leading the party to successful general elections.
Former Sports Minister Moses Dossi could not also hide his interest for party presidency saying his was an open secret.
Dossi said he had stepped up his campaign at both district and executive level in the UDF to head the party particularly now that there was talk of bringing back the post of president in the party constitution.
Said Dossi: "I know that my colleagues are already lobbying but I am not worried because my interest is common knowledge. I want the presidency," said Dossi.
Dossi said the party needs an energetic and focused politician like him to bring the it back into government.
Dossi aid he was hopeful the party constitution would change to provide for the position of presidency while maintain chairmanship as has been the case with the African National Congress in South Africa.
"Campaign I will do because the UDF will not go into 2009 elections blindly. It has learned its lessons. I am taking it there," said Dossi.
Reports reaching The Nation indicate that Mangulama is also lobbying for the position but he has denied any interest.
Mangulama is reported to have met district members from Zomba on Sunday where he sought their support.
"I was of course in Zomba on the said day but I am not party to that. I think people are just overzealous," said Mangulama.
Asked to comment on reports that he was one of the presidential hopefuls to fill the vacancy in UDF, party spokesperson Sam Mpasu could neither confirm nor deny only saying he would rather wait for the right time.
Mpasu said the UDF had not yet changed its constitution and there was no position for presidency as such he would not say whether he was interested.
"I have been party secretary general between 1997 and 1999 and national executive member ever since. These are very senior positions. I will therefore wait to cross the bridge when I come to it," said Mpasu.
Chilumpha, Mpinganjira and Jumbe could no be reached on their mobile phones for comments.
But reports say they have shown interest as they consider the party presidency a stepping stone to the 2009 presidential candidacy for the UDF.
Mpinganjira, who is tipped to be the likely presidential candidate for the party in 2009, was however quoted in a recent edition of Weekend Nation as saying he was not too sure he would want to be the party's presidential candidate.
MHRC against water boards sale
by Chikumbutso Ndaferankhande, 02 February 2006 - 07:45:13
The Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) said government should consider citizens' social, economic and political rights before privatising water boards in the country.
MHRC Chairperson Dorothy Nyasulu, accompanied by her Executive Director Emiliana Tembo, told a press conference on Wednesday in Blantyre that economic, social and cultural rights apart from prioritising civil and political rights in its agenda.
"In economic, social and cultural rights we are talking about the right to water, sanitation, the right to adequate housing, health, the right to scientific research among others. Therefore, we appeal to government to consider this when thinking of, say, privatising water boards," said Nyasulu.
She said privatising the water boards will compromise access to safe water.
On the other hand, Nyasulu welcomed government's decision to relocate street vendors.
She said much as the vendors have a right to trade anywhere to earn a living, they at the same have the responsibility to keep the city clean and free from congestion, a situation that is possible with the evacuation of the traders from the streets.
Nyasulu said MHRC's goals are in line with the biannual fifth conference of African National Human Rights Institutions held in Abuja, Nigeria last November which was attended by 24 African countries including Malawi.
Nangwale clings to Police property
by Zainah Liwanda, 02 February 2006 - 07:04:07
Former Inspector General of Police (IG) Mary Nangwale is still clinging to a Police house, vehicles and security despite being written by the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) to surrender them, The Nation has established.
Nangwale, who was rejected by Parliament, a decision that was upheld by the courts, was appointed security advisor to President Bingu wa Mutharika but she has not handed over to the acting IG, Often Thyolani, according a highly placed source at Police Headquarters in Lilongwe.
Police Public Relations Officer Willie Mwaluka confirmed on Tuesday in an interview that OPC wrote Nangwale but she has not yet handed over, saying" she will do that soon."
"Instructions indeed came from OPC. It's true that she has not handed over," said Mwaluka.
The police publicist said OPC have identified new premises for the former police boss and that she would be moving out soon.
Nangwale cut thee phone when contacted on the issue.
When this reporter called again two minutes later, someone, identifying himself as Reverend Namondwe answered indicating that Nangwale was very far and could be available after 30 minutes.
Asked to explain which house Nangwale was allocated and why she had not returned Police property, newly appointed Principal Secretary responsible for administration at OPC Hawa Ndilowe asked for time to consult.
Chairperson of the Police Service Commission Justice James Kalaile said they are not responsible for disciplining the IG as she is answerable to the head of state.
"We are only responsible for the deputy IG, downwards. The IG is answerable to the head of state," said Kalaile
The source confided in The Nation that Nangwale had not moved to the new premises because she was not sure of her security.
The source also claimed that Nangwale had packed the official vehicles she was using and now driving the VX allocated to her by the OPC.
According to the source, Thyolani was finding it difficult to operate because there has not been any handovers.
But Thyolani declined to comment on any thing regarding the issue, saying Mwaluka as spokesperson was better placed to do so?
Nangwale was last sighted with her bodyguard superintendent Liwonde who is on the police pay roll at Kamuzu International Airport when Mutharika presided over the commissioning of a new Air Malawi Boeing 737-500 last week.
Parliament rejected Nangwale the first female IG in southern Africa.
The Constitutional Court in Lilongwe after a judicial review in the matter upheld Parliament's decision.
She appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeal which also upheld the Constitutional Court's decision.
Mutharika thereafter appointed her special advisor on security matters.
According to the Constitution, Nangwale can be nominated again as IG.
Maneb grilled on 'sexed up' MSCE results
by Bright Sonani, 02 February 2006 - 07:02:50
The Education Committee of Parliament last week summoned the Malawi National Examinations Board (Maneb) to explain the controversy surrounding the results of the 2005 Malawi Schools Certificate of Education (MSCE) examinations.
The Committee summoned Maneb management following concerns that the results, described as an improvement from the previous years, were said to have been "sexed up" by reducing the minimum passing rate per subject to 16 per cent thereby giving a chance to undeserving students to pass with impressive grades.
Chairman of the Committee Steve Malamba confirmed in an interview that Maneb was summoned in Lilongwe last Friday to explain the allegations but he said his committee was not impressed with the explanation given.
"The Executive Director told us that they don't have any fixed passing mark for a particular subject, which means in my understanding that they would tamper with the passing rate as much as they want," said Malamba.
He also said the Maneb management told the committee that consideration is also given to schools according to the level of standards in terms of learning materials and calibre of teachers.
But Malamba said the committee was also not satisfied since he said all schools use the same syllabus and it would not be fair to treat them differently.
"That is day light robbery and not fair to Malawians," he added.
Malamba said the summoning of Maneb was part of the on-going consultative process between his committee and other stakeholders in education.
He said apart from the examination board, the committee also met with the University of Mzuzu, University of Malawi, Malawi Institute of Education, the National Library and the Ministry of Education.
Malamba said the next step was to take up the matter with the Ministry of Education.
"I really don't know whether to take any further steps but after having these consultative meeting we hope to take up the issues raised with the Ministry of Education since the Minister was not available in the meetings," he said.
The 2005 MSCE examinations results, which saw a 50.51 per cent pass rate raised eyebrows following extremely impressive grades which saw thousands of students scoring between 6 and 20 points with 26 students getting 6 points each and 14 schools achieving a 100 per cent pass rate.
Maneb Executive Director Mathews Matemba explained that there was no fixed pass rate because of the differences in the level of difficulty in all the 25 subjects administered.
He said the pass rate is determined depending on how the students have performed per particular subject.
Matemba parried the assertions that initially the pass rate for MSCE was 33.33 per cent saying there has never been such a thing.
The Maneb boss also explained that he did not tell the committee that different schools are graded differently but said the differences in levels of standards plays a major role in the results saying there were some extremely good schools which come out with extremely well results while others are extremely poor in standards and have extremely poor standards.
"There are these schools which are doing extremely well that are raising eyebrows but there is no discrimination, we grade them equally," he said.
Matemba said with the rigorous process that the assessment goes through there was no way that the results could be tampered with.
"During the award meetings we have our colleagues from examination councils from Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia so that the standards are not lowered. These people even say we are too hard on the candidates," he said.
Matemba also said before the final results are presented to the main board they are first submitted to two technical committees on security and examinations.
"With that rigorous process, to say that the results were tampered with I think it is an insult," he added.
Minister of Education Kate Kainja and other top ministry officials could not be drawn to comment as they were reported to be in a meeting the whole of Wednesday.
ACB doesn't favour govt*Kaliwo
by Henry Chilobwe, 02 February 2006 - 07:01:01
The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has denied allegations that it is being used by government to fight its political enemies especially top officials of the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF).
ACB director Gustave Kaliwo told a news conference on Wednesday that it is very unfortunate that most of the people in opposition the bureau has investigated "cry innocent to the media" even if they know they indulged themselves in a corruption scandal during the time the UDF was in power.
He said the bureau has prosecuted people in high government offices citing former Education Minister Yusuf Mwawa and former secretary to Treasury Milton Kutengule.
"What other top official than leader of government business in Parliament could we investigate and take to court? What other top civil servant than the whole Secretary to Treasury did we not take to court? It is very unfair to say that we are being used by government to settle scores with its political enemies.
"Corruption is a crime of opportunity and the people who were corrupt in the last ten years are the ones who were in the UDF because of their powerful positions. They could bribe or be bribed. In the same vein the people who can be corrupt today are the people in government because of their positions but we prosecute people equally without looking at their political affiliation," said Kaliwo.
But Kaliwo said at the same news conference that he addressed in order to drum up support for the Anti-corruption day on Sunday that the bureau is faced with financial problems and is operating under a budget of K85 million that was approved by Parliament against the K250 million it requested from government.
On the commemoration of the national Anti-Corruption day whose theme is "fight corruption, develop Malawi' Kaliwo said corruption and development are interrelated because no meaningful development would occur if corruption is rampant since vital resources are diverted to individuals or channelled to non-priority areas.
President Bingu wa Mutharika is expected to grace the occasion that will take place on Sunday at Chichiri International Conference Centre.
Albinos to have clinic
by Bright Kumwenda, 02 February 2006 - 07:44:38
College of Medicine Principal Professor Robert Broadhead said government plans to open an albino clinic at Queens Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre.
Broadhead said the clinic would, among others, be distributing sunscreen lotion which protects the skin of albinos from being destroyed by the sun.
"Albinism is a hereditary condition which occurs in people of all races due to lack of melanin, a pigment that gives the skin black colour," he told a news conference on Wednesday in Blantyre marking the Albino Awareness Week.
Broadhead, who was the guest of honour at the function also graced by officials from the Ministry of Education, said the clinic would start as soon as a consignment of sunscreen lotion government ordered from the US arrives.
QECH Dermatology Officer Levison Mwale said the clinic would also provide information to the public on albinism.
"It will be helping parents and guardians with information on how to prevent albino children from developing skin cancer," said Mwale who will be in-charge of the clinic.
Held under the theme 'Let's Know About Albinism', the awareness week started on Monday and ends this Sunday.
The Albino Association of Malawi (Taam) chairperson Grace Massah said albinos face stigma and discrimination due to lack of information on their condition.
"Some say albinism is contagious, others say we do not die we just disappear. And yet others say an HIV person can be cured once he sleeps with an albino woman. All these myths are false," said Massah, herself an albino.
Drought forces Tanzania to ration electricity
02 February 2006 09:32
Tanzanian authorities on Thursday began rationing electricity because of water shortages at hydroelectric plants caused by a drought that has placed millions at risk of famine across East Africa.
Minister of Energy and Minerals Ibrahim Msabaha said power will be cut during the day from 8am to about 5pm local time.
"We are now forced to use water at [the main] Mtera Dam frugally until mid-March, when an additional 60-megawatt gas turbine will be installed at Ubungo power station in Dar es Salaam," he said by phone.
The Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco) will provide power during the night.
"It is important to have light at night to curb crime," he said.
On Tuesday, President Jakaya Kikwete said most of the hydro power plants will be shut due to water shortages.
"We are now approaching a point where we must shut down the hydropower generation plants," he said.
Kikwete said the water level at Mtera Dam, which feeds the major hydroelectric plants in central Tanzania, is below the permitted power-generation level of 690m.
"The government in January permitted Tanesco to continue with production until the level reached 687m," he said.
"The level has since dropped to 687,59m, meaning we have only 59cm remaining, beyond which power production will have to stop. Under such circumstances, power rationing is now inevitable," he warned.
He said the 447 megawatts currently produced by Tanesco's hydro and thermal stations and firms contracted by the state fall short of national demand, which is said to be double the amount being generated.
Tanesco chief Adrian van der Merwe said power rationing will not affect institutions such as hospitals, key government facilities and strategic industries.
Electricity has for the past five months been erratic in Tanzania's commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, for reasons including drought and a breakdown of facilities. Many traders and industrialists have been forced to resort to noisy and costly generators.
Tanzania's total generation capacity is 953 megawatts, more than two-thirds of which is hydroelectric. -- Sapa-AFP
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