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  • Christine Chumbler
    UN Special Envoy Urges Support for Malawi UN News Service (New York) February 8, 2006 Posted to the web February 8, 2006 The United Nations Special Envoy for
    Message 1 of 1046 , Feb 9, 2006
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      UN Special Envoy Urges Support for Malawi

      UN News Service (New York)

      February 8, 2006
      Posted to the web February 8, 2006


      The United Nations Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa has applauded the support shown by donors in helping millions of Malawians survive a major food crisis while urging stepped-up efforts to address long-term needs.

      After a two-day visit to the country, James T. Morris said that recent good rainfall could mean Malawi has a good harvest this season and as a result, for the first time in four years, could turn its full attention to medium-term and longer-term humanitarian projects rather than only focusing on immediate needs.

      "The Government, with the support of donors, should seize this opportunity to put in place development projects aimed at improving the lives of the poorest people, particularly children," Mr. Morris said in Lilongwe as he wrapped up a five-day visit to southern Africa.

      Malawi could be on target to produce its best harvest in nearly six years if rainfall patterns continue as they have over the last two months, according to the UN World Food Programme (WFP), which Mr. Morris heads. This follows last year's harvest which was the worst in a decade and left nearly five million people in need of food aid, 2.8 million of them were children under the age of 18 years.

      The agency said donations from the international community prevented a humanitarian disaster. "The generosity shown by donors to support the people of Malawi has been overwhelming," Mr. Morris said.

      "Some of the challenges for the year ahead will be to reduce the high rates of acute malnutrition among children, tackle food insecurity issues, address water and sanitation problems, and help the many people who are living with HIV/AIDS, including nearly 500,000 orphans," he said.

      Morris praised the Government's efforts to meet the food needs of many of its people through to the next harvest as well as its achievement in reaching nearly 38,000 HIV positive people with antiretrovirals by the end of 2005 - a steep increase from some 4,000 people it was reaching in December 2003.

      The UN's 'Flash Appeal' for Malawi has received about $54 million of the $77 million needed.

      *****

      Muluzi's computers tampered with
      by Bright Sonani, 09 February 2006 - 07:10:00
      One of the hard disks to the computers confiscated from former Head of State Bakili Muluzi was tampered with only a few weeks before the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) invaded Muluzi's houses, ACB Director Gustave Kaliwo disclosed on Wednesday.
      Outlining the progress of the analysis of the computers confiscated from Muluzi's residences, Kaliwo disclosed that there were already some issues that have come up out of the examination of the computers which he said the bureau would want to have an explanation from the UDF national chairman.
      "I will give you an example, one of the hard disk was actually changed just a few weeks before we were to invade his houses. May be there is an innocent explanation to it. We are not saying he changed it because he knew we were going but it is something we need an explanation on, to say what necessitated this," said Kaliwo.
      He could however, not disclose in details what other results have come out of the analysis.
      The ACB boss said the computer analysis has been delayed since the expert was not able to finish analyzing the information in the country, but needed certain expertise and material from outside the country.
      "The imaging of the computer hardware was done and the computers were returned to Dr Muluzi, but we have copies of the hard disks. It is on a copy of these disks that we are working on," said Kaliwo.
      Kaliwo said he expects to get the report from the expert in two weeks time and that is when he would be able to make a decision on the case.
      "There are still issues that we need to tie down, our investigations are at an advanced and we haven't abandoned the investigations. When the time is ripe we will be able to give you what we can do," he added.
      Kaliwo hinted that the case will not solely depend on what would come out of the computer analysis since the ACB already has some evidence against Muluzi.
      "Remember this is not the only thing we are looking at, we already had evidence that's why I called Dr Muluzi and actually gave him details of what we had, where we thought he was going to explain to us," he said.
      ACB announced early this month that it would decide on whether or not Muluzi has a case on January 10 after a computer expert analyses data in computers the ACB seized from the former head of state.
      Muluzi is being accused of getting funding from local and foreign organisations as well as nations amounting to over K1.4 billion.
      The bureau raided Muluzi's three residences in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Kapoloma in Machinga after he obtained a court injunction stopping his appearance at the ACB offices where he was required to answer questions and produce documents related to transactions he had with his benefactors.
      The items confiscated included computers, bank cheques, bank statements, bank instructions and letters.
      The countries Muluzi is alleged to have benefited from include Taiwan, Libya, the Kingdom of Morocco as well as several local and foreign organisations.
      Libya recently admitted to have been assisting the UDF through the personal friendship between Muluzi and the Libyan leader Muamar Gadaffi.

      *****

      National IDs ready next year
      by Chikumbutso Ndaferankhande, 09 February 2006 - 07:16:34
      Deputy Home Affairs and Internal Security Minister Roy Commsy has said the National Registration and Identification exercise is expected to finish in 2007 because the IDs are expected to be used in the 2009 general elections.
      Speaking after visiting Limbe Police Station, Commsy said the exercise would assist in the next presidential and parliamentary elections because the IDs would act as voter identification card.
      The project, which will see every Malawian having an ID, would also assist government know the country's population.
      According to Commsy, the project is at an advanced stage.
      "The project is being funded by government and cooperating partners. It will assist in the next elections and in the management of the influx of illegal immigrants. It's a multipurpose process exercise where a lot of illegal processes by illegal immigrants, especially in Blantyre and Lilongwe, will be tracked," said Commsy.
      The project went through tenders and evaluation and government was waiting to hear from the Director of Public Procurement on when the contractor can start working on the project.
      Commsy's boss, Anna Kachikho is on record as having said that once the reports are in her office, her ministry would advance with speed to start the project by end of this month.
      She said public awareness on the project has already been conducted in places like Kabudula in Lilongwe, Chitipa and Henga in Rumphi. The civic education team would also go to Thyolo soon, according to officials.

      *****

      Local polls launch in two weeks
      by Isaac Masingati, 09 February 2006 - 07:13:29
      Launch of the local government elections dogged by funding deficiencies since two years ago has been slated for mid this month, Malawi Electoral Commission (Mec) has announced.
      This follows a pledge by Treasury to give the electoral body K480 million ( about $3.8 million) for the next four months of the commission's local elections calendar.
      MEC spokesperson Fegus Lipenga said in an interview Wednesday the commission had already sent a cash flow of the amount Treasury had promised and that it was optimistic the money would be released in time for the national launch.
      "This is the period that government funds its various departments and we are definite we will have the money ready for the launch," said Lipenga.
      Lipenga said the commission had decided to kick-start the elections process with the launch on February 21 to be followed by the briefing of returning officers and a National Elections Consultative Forum (Necof) meeting.
      He said the commission would during the coming four months conduct a series of launches in local assemblies where the commission would meet traditional leaders, NGOs, local party and religious leaders and members of the public for sensitisation..
      Lipenga said of the K480 million, K230 million is from the donor community and the rest by government.
      But he could not say when the elections would be held saying the K480 million was too little for Mec to be exact on dates.
      "As it is we are not sure when to expect another chunk of funding after the K480 million. It would therefore not be proper to announce a date only to have it differed again. It confuses and demotivates people," said Lipenga.
      Lipenga said Mec would therefore have to wait for another allocation by Parliament when it next meets to decide on the exact polling date.
      He however said the commission was doing all it can to have the elections held this year because the polls were constitutionally long over due.
      He also said Mec would soon flight adverts for accreditation of NGOs to carry out voter civic education and that a media task force would be set up to ensure fair coverage of the elections.
      Project manager for National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) Orison Chaponda commended the commission for kick-starting the local elections.
      Chaponda said the elections would give local people a chance to participate in democracy and the development of their communities through elected representatives.
      "As it is, democracy is nonexistent because there are no councillors to take our views and bring us the development that we need in our areas," he said.
      Chaponda, therefore, condemned government for failing to fund the elections in time saying the attitude [by government] was a clear case of violation of rule of law and constitutionalism.
      The Malawi Constitution stipulates that local government elections be held in the third week of May in the year following the year of the general election of the National Assembly. Malawi had its recent general elections in 2004.
      "...where it is not practicable to for the polling to be held in the third week of May, the polling shall be held on a day within seven days from the expiration of the third week of May," further reads the constitution.
      Human Rights Consultative Committee chair Rodgers Newa was also quoted last month as saying that the current assemblies are illegal because they do not have the mandate of local people by virtue of the absence of elected councillors.
      Commenting on salaries of councillors which are said to be too minimal for motivation, Chaponda said what councillors need are resources for transport and communication not high perks.
      Chaponda said working for the common good should be the driving force and not high salaries.
      "History has shown that the more you pay people the more they demand more as has been the case with our MPs," said Chaponda.
      He therefore said only people with integrity and national interest should come forward and get voted for seats in local councils.

      *****

      Muluzi's computers tampered with
      by Bright Sonani, 09 February 2006 - 07:10:00
      One of the hard disks to the computers confiscated from former Head of State Bakili Muluzi was tampered with only a few weeks before the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) invaded Muluzi's houses, ACB Director Gustave Kaliwo disclosed on Wednesday.
      Outlining the progress of the analysis of the computers confiscated from Muluzi's residences, Kaliwo disclosed that there were already some issues that have come up out of the examination of the computers which he said the bureau would want to have an explanation from the UDF national chairman.
      "I will give you an example, one of the hard disk was actually changed just a few weeks before we were to invade his houses. May be there is an innocent explanation to it. We are not saying he changed it because he knew we were going but it is something we need an explanation on, to say what necessitated this," said Kaliwo.
      He could however, not disclose in details what other results have come out of the analysis.
      The ACB boss said the computer analysis has been delayed since the expert was not able to finish analyzing the information in the country, but needed certain expertise and material from outside the country.
      "The imaging of the computer hardware was done and the computers were returned to Dr Muluzi, but we have copies of the hard disks. It is on a copy of these disks that we are working on," said Kaliwo.
      Kaliwo said he expects to get the report from the expert in two weeks time and that is when he would be able to make a decision on the case.
      "There are still issues that we need to tie down, our investigations are at an advanced and we haven't abandoned the investigations. When the time is ripe we will be able to give you what we can do," he added.
      Kaliwo hinted that the case will not solely depend on what would come out of the computer analysis since the ACB already has some evidence against Muluzi.
      "Remember this is not the only thing we are looking at, we already had evidence that's why I called Dr Muluzi and actually gave him details of what we had, where we thought he was going to explain to us," he said.
      ACB announced early this month that it would decide on whether or not Muluzi has a case on January 10 after a computer expert analyses data in computers the ACB seized from the former head of state.
      Muluzi is being accused of getting funding from local and foreign organisations as well as nations amounting to over K1.4 billion.
      The bureau raided Muluzi's three residences in Blantyre, Lilongwe and Kapoloma in Machinga after he obtained a court injunction stopping his appearance at the ACB offices where he was required to answer questions and produce documents related to transactions he had with his benefactors.
      The items confiscated included computers, bank cheques, bank statements, bank instructions and letters.
      The countries Muluzi is alleged to have benefited from include Taiwan, Libya, the Kingdom of Morocco as well as several local and foreign organisations.
      Libya recently admitted to have been assisting the UDF through the personal friendship between Muluzi and the Libyan leader Muamar Gadaffi.

      *****

      Lilongwe vendors in second day of protest
      by Zainah Liwanda, 09 February 2006 - 06:15:28
      Lilongwe vendors on Wednesday entered the second day of protest against government's move to relocate them to the flea market, prompting heavily armed police to fire tear-gas and shoot in the air to disperse the wild crowd.
      Shops at Old Town, the venue for the fracas remained closed the whole day with some businessmen, especially Asians and vendors themselves, complaining they had not sold anything for two days, saying it was becoming "too much".
      In the morning, one group of vendors purportedly willing to go into the flea converged at the location, and were told to pay K300 (about $2 ) each to acquire an identity card which was to act as a passport to the market before one trades there.
      Addressing the vendors at the market, Lilongwe City Assembly administrative officer Paul Malunga said the registration exercise for the ID's started Wednesday at Town Hall and that any vendor who would not comply would not be allowed to trade in the market.
      But the vendors complained that the time given was too short and that because they not displayed their trade for two days, it was impossible for them to raise the K300 fee.
      Some vendors wanted to know whether they would be allowed to go back to the streets and continue their normal business while the registration exercise went on in readiness for the occupation of the market.
      Malunga explained that they were free to display their goods outside the market as they wait for the allocation exercise. But that no one was allowed to trade on the streets
      In an interview later Malunga explained that government did not know how many vendors were in the City of Lilongwe for example and that without the identity it would be difficult to establish the actual number.
      He said that due to the vendors cries about lack of money to pay fro the registration fee, the assembly had resolved to give those who cannot afford ID's on credit, and that one copy would remain with the assembly while the other would be with the individual vendors.
      "Apparently what the Lilongwe City Assembly is saying is that these people before they move out, they must be registered, they must have identity cards. We should be able to know how may vendors we have in the city," said Malunga.
      Malunga said the identity programme would be helpful especially to the city residents in the sense that when somebody is harassed in the market, he or she would be able to trace the particular vendor because they would be expected to display the identity.
      The officer said the assembly was currently in the process of demarcating and allocating places in the markets but cannot only do that after knowing how many vendors are in the city.
      "We cannot just speculate to say the flea market is small. It's small basing on what figures? We do not know the figures. What we are saying is that let us register them first. But that aside, government is doing all it can ensure that there is enough land for the vendors," said Malunga.
      Asked whether there was any consultation with the vendor's leadership during the construction of the flea market to find out how many were in the city, Malunga said there has been change in management both at the assembly and among the vendors themselves.
      Another group of vendors, apparently not willing to go into the market was holding another meeting, but Malunga said it was up to the vendors to choose whether to listen to government or their colleagues.
      After the meeting, all the vendors headed for the upper market area where they were joined by the other group, which boycotted the meeting, and were addressed by a police officer but the crowd kept on yelling.
      Several armoured vehicles patrolled the area, and the vendors who were in thousands started chanting anti police songs, and this led to police to fire teargas and shoot in the air.
      Local Government and Rural Development Minister George Chaponda could not be reached for comment but was quoted on MBC radio lunch hour bulletin to have said government had given the vendors up to the end of the rainy season to leave the streets.
      Chairperson of the vendors in Lilongwe Grant Phiri said he was unwell and resting at home.
      But he welcomed Chaponda's decision, saying vendors felt they were being treated unfairly.
      Phiri said the vendors committee was at Civic offices discussing with the city assembly officials and was yet to be briefed.

      *****

      Nurses threaten to close Salima Hospital
      by Bright Sonani, 09 February 2006 - 06:21:17
      Nurses at Salima District Hospital have threatened to down their tools and shut down the hospital by March 1, 2006 if authorities will not improve the pathetic condition of the hospital which they say is life threatening to patients as well to themselves.
      In a petition to the District Health Officer, the hospital's Nurses Welfare Association cited several pathetic conditions including maladministration, abuse of funds, lack of maintenance of essential facilities including toilets which has led to the hospital having only one working toilet and an outbreak of cholera since the patients are said to be relieving themselves in nearby bushes.
      The nurse complain that the long standing issues regarding the pathetic condition of the hospital and lack of essential drugs have led to ineffective care of patients.
      "Nurses as patients' advocates would like that the issues be addressed for the benefit of the patients (tax payers). We expect change on the presented issues with immediate effect and we shall evaluate on February 28. Action shall be taken on March 1, 2006 depending on the observed changes," reads the petition signed by 29 members of staff at the hospital.
      In an interview President of the National Association of Nurses in Malawi Dorothy Ngoma, when asked what action the workers would take if the situation would not improve, said it was her hope that authorities would take action before the deadline since everyone knows that the situation was "life threatening both to the workers and patients."
      "Government is aware that professionals are free to walk out of a work station if they feel they are being exposed to dangerous condition. It is aware that professionals have the right to lobby for a shut down of the place if they feel that patients' life is at risk," said Ngoma.
      She explained that when she visited the hospital she found that water was a problem at the hospital, most toilets were not working, buildings are dilapidated and have become a breeding place for bats which she said threatens a rabies outbreak at the hospital.
      She also said so far there was already an outbreak of cholera with 16 cases reported, three of them involving guardians of patients who had the infection right at the hospital premises.
      "It is not a place patients would go to get cured but to die. It is infested with bats, it is stinking. I believe they are not going to wait, they are going to act. We have been talking with the authorities they know there is a problem there," said Ngoma.
      She said it was sad that instead of the medical personnel at the hospital fighting for their salaries they should be fighting for the welfare of patients.
      Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health Wesley Sangala could not comment on the issues raised by the workers saying it was a management issue to be handled at the district level.
      District Health Officer Charles Mangani confirmed that he has received the petition.
      "We had discussions with them. I can't disclose what we have discussed because the issue is now being handled at headquarters level," said Mangani.
      The petition has been copied to Ngoma, Salima District Commissioner, Director of Nursing Services in the Ministry of Health and the Zone Supervisor of Central East Zone.
      On management problems, the nurses observed that the hospital put a retired clinical officer as acting DHO in place of Mangani who is currently doing a masters degree at College of Medicine and that the hospital no longer holds a management meeting regularly while other sections are not represented at such meetings.
      On finance management the petition observed: "There is a repetition in allocation of money to some activities, which are not even implemented."
      It indicated that among some purchases which are always shown on the monthly budget include buying of food items, fuel for generator, maintenance of vehicles and hospitals and staff houses but are never done.
      The nurses said the generator has not been working for more than six months while toilets and staff houses are never maintained.
      "All patients' toilets are blocked and closed, patients and guardians are going to the nearby bushes. Some patients and guardians are developing cholera right in the ward. We are (also) living in dirty, leaking, stinking houses due to broken sewage tanks," observed the nurses.
      The petition added: "We use bucket water for flushing toilets at home. Sometimes if it rains during night shift we find our beddings and other goods soaked in water due to leaking houses. This is a health hazard to us. We question where the monthly budget for maintenance goes and where do our deductions on housing go."
      The petition also said misuse of funds at the hospital has led to loss of donor confidence with some of them, such as United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) withdrawing assistance to the hospital.
    • 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
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        ADB firm on Karonga-Chitipa road contract

        by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:09:17

        The African Development Bank (ADB) has again rejected a proposal by government to look for another contractor instead of China Hunan Construction to construct of the long awaited Karonga/Chitipa road.

        China Hunan from Mainland China won the bid which was approved by the ADB but government later wanted to award the contract to a Portuguese firm, Mota Engil, the second lowest bidder, claiming China Hunan's bid was unrealistically low and that the company had very little experience in Africa.

        Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe confirmed on Sunday the ADB rejected the proposal at a meeting held between the bank and Malawi government in Tunisia last week.

        The Malawi government wanted the Tunisia meeting to authorise it to get another contractor for the road, said Gondwe.

        "They did not allow us to look for another contractor because of their regulations. But we are about to get another alternative for Karonga/Chitipa and I would be surprised if it does not start before end June," said Gondwe.

        The minister explained that the bank insisted that regardless of the unrealistic cost estimates, China Hunan should be allowed to go ahead with the construction.

        But Gondwe could not give further details about the alternatives, arguing there are still a few loose ends to tighten up before disclosing it.

        The problem with China Hunan, according to Gondwe, is that it would require more money to meet the total cost of the project.

        This paper reported last week that government met Taiwanese representatives where they offered to fund the road if the ADB continued to reject its favoured contractor, Mota Engil.

        Gondwe could neither confirm nor deny the reports on the Taiwanese offer, saying government was looking at a number of ways to handle the issue.

        According to Gondwe, the China Hunan's bid was 24 percent lower than the consulting engineers' estimates of K7.9 billion and 34 percent below the second lowest bidder.

        President Bingu wa Mutharika laid a foundation stone for the construction of the road this year ahead of a crucial byelection in Chitipa in December last year.

        The President's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the Chitipa Wenya constituency by-election that fell vacant following the collapse and subsequent death of Speaker of Parliament Rodwell Munyenyembe who belonged to the UDF.

        Last week, police and the District Commissioner (DC) for Chitipa stopped a rally that was aimed at soliciting people's views about development projects in the district.

        The meeting, which was reportedly organised by Concerned Citizens of Chitipa, was among other things also supposed to tackle the controversial Karonga/Chitipa road.

        The project failed to start off in 2000 when a contract for an initial loan of US$17 million and US$15 million from the Taiwanese government was signed, with some quarters claiming the Bakili Muluzi administration diverted the money to another road.

        *****

        Chihana operated on

        by Edwin Nyirongo, 22 May 2006 - 06:32:31

        Alliance for Democracy (Aford) president Chakufwa Chihana, who is in South Africa receiving treatment, had a brain operation on Friday at Garden City Clinic, family and party officials confirmed on Sunday.

        Aford national chairman Chipimpha Mughogho said he was told by the family members that Chihana had a successful operation on Friday and was put in an intensive care unit.

        Mughogho said Chihana, who initially complained of headache, was found with a brain tumour which South African doctors removed.

        Mzimba West MP Loveness Gondwe said Aford boss condition was stable.

        "Hon. Chihana had a major operation and after that he was put in the intensive care unit but his condition is stable. I do not know where he was operated on but it had something to do with the skull," she said.

        Deputy Information Minister John Bande referred the matter to the Health Minister Hetherwick Ntaba who was reported to be in Geneva, Switzerland.

        Aford publicity secretary Norman Nyirenda said when Chihana's situation got worse, the family alerted the Office of the President and Cabinet who took him to Mwaiwathu Private Hospital.

        "The doctors at Mwaiwathu advised that he should be sent to South Africa and they even identified the doctor for him," he said.

        He said the costs are being met by the Malawi government, contradicting his earlier statement that his boss covered the cost.

        Mughogho is now in charge of the party.

        Gondwe will be a busy person when Parliament starts meeting on June 6 as she is the only Aford MP remaining.

        *****

        Pillane proposes presidential age limit

        by Emmanuel Muwamba , 22 May 2006 - 06:34:13

        A member of the DPP National Governing Council Abdul Pillane on Saturday urged members of political parties and the civil society to put an upper age limit in the Constitution for presidential candidates.

        Pillane was addressing members of political parties and civil society in Liwonde during a two-day follow up workshop to the National Conference on the Review of Constitution held in March in Lilongwe.

        "My view is that (an upper) age limit should be at 75. We have to give a chance to younger people to lead because in circumstance, when you age you become forgetful especially when sickly," said Pillane. "Overall, chances should be given to young people."

        But UDF secretary general Kennedy Makwangwala, whose party members agitated for the age limit during presentations, played the issue down.

        "I feel there is no logic to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates. If someone is 90 or 80 I don't know how that can influence the electorate not to vote for someone who is younger, I don't see any logic behind that," said Makwangwala.

        MCP participants at the workshop also vehemently objected to the proposal.

        MCP vice president Nicholas Dausi in an interview said: "There is no constitution in Africa which stipulates an upper age limit. So it would be strange in Malawi to have an upper age limit for presidential candidates."

        MDP President Kamlepo Kalua also opposed the need to have an upper age limit.

        "If we have personalities in mind that we want to discriminate against then it is unfortunate. The constitution we want to build is a guiding document for future generations and it should not bar certain individuals on the basis of grudges," he said.

        The Malawi Law Constitution Issues Paper of March 2006 says several submissions that were received put an upper presidential age limit in the Constitution.

        "It is argued that it is common sense that mental knowledge faculties tend to fail with age. As regards what the actual age limit should be the submissions are far from being agreed. The range is from 60 years to 80 years," read submissions in the Issues Paper.

        On whether MPs should double as ministers, Kalua said this should be the case.

        Makwangwala also said it is not right for MPs to serve as ministers because the Legislature, another arm of government, is reduced while the Executive branch is beefed up from another arm of government.

        "There is no separation of powers when MPs double as ministers," said Makwangwala.

        But Pillane said there is no problem for MPs to work as ministers as well, saying MPs are elected by the President.

        "One can serve both posts. There have been no problems before for people to double," said Pillane.

        The Centre for Multiparty Democracy funded the workshop through the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.

        The objective was to come up with a collective position on the Issues Paper which will be presented to the Special Law Commission that will be constituted soon.

        *****

        Mussa hails new driving licence

        by Zainah Liwanda, 22 May 2006 - 06:58:52

        Transport and Public Works Minister Henry Mussa last week said the design of the Malawi-Sadc driving licence would guard against forgery and ensure that only skilled and legitimate drivers of particular vehicles are licensed.

        Mussa was speaking at the official launch of the licences in Lilongwe where he announced that traffic police would from July enforce speed limits and sober driving using Breathalysers which his ministry is in the process of procuring.

        The minister said financial constraints are the reason for the delay in procuring the equipment but assured that by July they would be available.

        "With the new equipment, the days of those who believe in the thrill of drink and driving are numbered," warned Mussa.

        Mussa added that with the new licence, government is optimistic that the country's roads would be safe.

        Acting Director of Road Traffic James Chirwa said the features that distinguish the new from the old licences are the Malawi national flag and a ghost image of the driver's photograph, among others.

        Those with old licences, according to Chirwa, are expected to get the new ones after the expiry of the former.

        *****

        UDF demands investigation on Kasambara

        by Rabecca Theu, 22 May 2006 - 06:30:46

        The United Democratic Front (UDF) has asked government to investigate Ralph Kasambara on allegations of abuse of office while he was attorney general.

        UDF publicity secretary Sam Mpasu told the press Sunday that the party is neither amused or saddened by the removal of the former AG but asked government to institute investigations on Kasambara.

        "Beyond the removal of the Attorney General, we now urge President Mutharika to institute investigation against Mr Kasambara into allegations that have made rounds in the public domain during the recent past. These include: Mrs Helen Singh and SS Rent-a-Car; SGS and ITS saga; ...........the use of Malawi Police Service in the arrest of three Chronicle journalists and the handling of Mrs Rubina Kawonga," said Mpasu.

        Mpasu also accused Kasambara of awarding government contracts to Lawson and Company where he was a senior partner.

        "We urge government to thoroughly investigate the former AG. We also ask government to cautiously select the new AG ," said Mpasu, who was accompanied by the party's Secretary General Kennedy Makwangwala, leader of the party in Parliament George Mtafu, chief whip Leonard Mangulama and a member of the executive Hophmally Makande.

        But Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati said UDF should give offer its advice to the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB).

        "They should advise bodies like the Anti-Corruption Bureau to conduct the investigations and why are they saying this now? Is it because Kasambara has been fired? This is not a personal issue. If they have other pressing issues they should just say so. These arguments should have come up earlier on when the said cases were happening," she said.

        Kasambara asked UDF to proceed with the mission of urging government to investigate him.

        "They can do their job. Everyone has a right to lobby for anything they want in the country. UDF has a right to do that, let them go ahead," he said.

        Kasambara was relieved of his duties as AG by the President last week. Government has not given reasons behind the removal.

        *****

        Zambia: Malawians Grab Zambian Land

        The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

        May 18, 2006

        Posted to the web May 19, 2006

        Andrew Lungu

         

        MALAWIANS who have encroached on both the 'no-man's' and part of the Zambian land at the Mwami border in Eastern Province have plucked out some beacons that were used in the demarcation of the border.

        The Malawians are now using the beacons as stools in their newly-established villages on Zambian land.

        Eastern Province Minister, Boniface Nkhata, said in Chipata yesterday that if the situation was not controlled urgently, Zambia would lose huge tracts of land to Malawians migrating into Zambian in large numbers.

        A check at the Zambia-Malawi border showed a number of beacons had been vandalised and new structures constructed on the 'no man's' land and a large portion of Zambian land.

        Mr Nkhata said the trend extended to many parts of the province bordering the two countries.

        "A large portion of Zambian land has been taken up by the Malawians starting from the Chama boundary up to the Mwami border.

        "The weighbridge at the Mwami border was initially in Zambia from the time both countries gained independence from Britain, but now the bridge is on Malawian soil," Mr Nkhata said.

        The minister, who is former Chama District Commissioner, said there was similar encroachment in Lundazi and Chama districts where Zambia shares a boundary with Malawi.

        He said a Malawian farmer identified as Mr Mfune had cultivated 71.5 hectares on Zambian land and employed about 265 Malawian workers.

        "Khombe Farm in Chama district in Kanyerere's area, along the Muyombe road which leads to Northern Province where this Malawian farmer has cultivated a vast land is on the Zambian territory," he said.

        Workers on the farm admitted that they were farming on Zambian soil but could not go back to Malawi because the land in that country was inadequate for cultivation.

        Mr Nkhata appealed to the ministry of Lands to urgently release money for the demarcation of the Zambia-Malawi border to avoid further land disputes between the two countries.

        Meanwhile, the Immigration Department in Livingstone has arrested a couple and another man, all Zimbabweans, for working in Zambia without permits.

        They were arrested at Gwembe village yesterday where they worked for Into Africa, a tour operating company that provides bush dinners and breakfast.

        According to the Immigration Department in Livingstone, the trio entered Zambia through the Victoria Falls border as visitors but decided to work for the company illegally.

        Last week, immigration officers arrested 10 Zimbabwean traders and six Ethiopians for entering and staying in Zambia illegally.

        The Zimbabwean traders were warned and cautioned and later released.

        The Ethiopians were arrested at Konje Guest House when they ran out of money to proceed to Botswana.

         

        *****

        Zim unions, MDC still plan anti-govt protests

        Harare, Zimbabwe

        22 May 2006 11:51

        Zimbabwe's biggest labour federation on Saturday threatened to call massive demonstrations against the government over poor salaries and worsening living conditions for workers in the country.

        The threats are ratcheting up pressure against President Robert Mugabe's government after similar threats by the biggest opposition party in the country, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), about two months ago.

        Speaking at the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) conference on Saturday, the labour body's president, Lovemore Matombo, said the powerful union wants the government to award workers salaries that match the country's ever-rising inflation.

        "I can assure you we will stage massive demonstrations to force them [employers] to award workers minimum salaries that tally with the poverty datum line," said Matombo.

        Matombo did not say when exactly the ZCTU would order workers to strike.

        Opposition protests

        Meanwhile, the MDC on Sunday said it will push ahead with plans for anti-government protests, saying victory in a key by-election at the weekend was a "sign the electorate supported its policies", including democratic mass resistance.

        A spokesperson of the main faction of the splintered MDC, Nelson Chamisa, said victory over Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF and a rival MDC faction in a Saturday by-election in Harare's Budiriro constituency is a sign Zimbabweans still have confidence in party leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his policies.

        Tsvangirai, the founding leader of the MDC, heads the main rump of the opposition party whose candidate, Emmanuel Chisvuure, polled 7 949 votes to win the Budiriro House of Assembly seat.

        Gabriel Chaibva of the other faction of the MDC, led by prominent academic Arthur Mutambara, garnered 504 votes while Zanu-PF's Jeremiah Bvirindi polled 3 961 votes.

        "This election showed that the electorate still has confidence in the MDC [Tsvangirai-led] leadership and its policies," Chamisa told independent news service ZimOnline.

        He added: "We will now move to consolidate our position * we still believe in mass protests. Until we have attained our goals we see no reason why we should abandon [plans for protests]."

        Tsvangirai has threatened to call mass protests this winter against Mugabe and his government. He says the mass protests, whose date he is still to name, are meant to force Mugabe to relinquish power to a government of national unity to be tasked to write a new and democratic Constitution that would ensure free and fair elections held under international supervision.

        Mugabe and his government, who had hoped for victory in Budiriro to show they were recapturing urban support from a splintered MDC, have not taken idly the opposition's threats to call mass protests, with the veteran president warning Tsvangirai he would be "dicing with death" if he ever attempted to instigate a Ukraine-style popular revolt in Zimbabwe.

        Crackdown

        In a fresh crackdown against dissension, the police last week arrested several church and civic leaders for organising public prayers and marches to mark last year's controversial home-demolition exercise by the government.

        The police also banned the marches and prayers, fearing they could easily turn into mass protests against Mugabe and his government.

        However, the marches went ahead in the second-largest city of Bulawayo after organisers had obtained a court order barring the police from stopping the march.

        Political analysts say although Zimbabweans have largely been cowed by Mugabe's tactics of routinely deploying riot police and the military to crush street protests, worsening hunger and poverty are fanning public anger that Tsvangirai -- with proper planning and organisation -- could easily manipulate.

        Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe six-year old economic crisis that has seen inflation breaching the 1 000% barrier. Last year, the World Bank said Zimbabwe's economic crisis was unprecedented for a country not at war.

        The MDC and major Western governments blame Mugabe for wrecking the country's economy, which was one of the strongest in Africa at independence from Britain 26 years ago.

        Mugabe denies the charge blaming the crisis on sabotage by Britain and her allies after he seized white-owned farms for redistribution to landless blacks six years ago.

        The Harare authorities recently hiked salaries for civil servants, with the lowest-paid soldier now earning about Z$27-million while the lowest-paid school teacher now takes home about Z$33-million.

        But the salaries are still way below the poverty datum line, which the government's Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says now stands at a staggering Z$42-million a month for an average family of six.

        The Zimbabwe government often accuses the ZCTU, a strong ally of the MDC, of pushing a political agenda to remove Mugabe from power.

        Meanwhile, Matombo and Lucia Matibenga retained their posts as president and first vice-president respectively during the ZCTU congress that ended on Saturday. -- ZimOnline

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