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  • Christine Chumbler
    Malawi: Constitution Changes Could Strengthen Mutharika UN Integrated Regional Information Networks April 11, 2006 Posted to the web April 11, 2006 Lilongwe
    Message 1 of 1046 , Apr 12, 2006
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      Malawi: Constitution Changes Could Strengthen Mutharika

      UN Integrated Regional Information Networks

      April 11, 2006
      Posted to the web April 11, 2006

      Lilongwe

      The possible revision of a law that forbids Malawi's members of parliament from crossing the floor could help strengthen President Bingu wa Mutharika, who has been locked in a gruelling battle with his opposition.

      Changing Section 65 of the constitution was proposed by Mutharika, who argued that it contradicted freedom of association, which is also guaranteed. "The review of the constitution should assess the rights of individuals to belong to an association of their choice, and not to be forced to belong to a political party," he remarked at a recently concluded conference to examine the issue.

      More than 20 members of the opposition, some of whom hold portfolios in the coalition cabinet, resigned from their parties to join Mutharika's fledgling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and now face the threat of losing their seats in parliament. Last year Mutharika took the matter to court, which called for a judicial review of the situation.

      Mutharika has been facing a tense standoff with the opposition, the largest bloc in parliament, since he quit the United Democratic Front (UDF) after it sponsored him in the 2004 general elections. His DPP, however, has won all six by-elections it has fought.

      The UDF said it was opposed to the removal of Section 65 and warned that such a move would create a "dictatorship in the country" and cause instability in political parties. "The MPs are elected on a party ticket and they cannot just dump the party and join another party which did not help put them in their positions," said UDF spokesman Sam Mpasu.

      Other opposition groups, including the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), have slammed Mutharika for his call to allow floor crossing, saying it was undemocratic. "Section 65 should not be removed, because MPs are voted into office by the people, and if they want to move to another party they should get the mandate of the people," maintained Nicholas Dausi, an MCP spokesman.

      The review also sparked a debate on whether the president should have the power to sack the first vice-president. Mutharika's government is tied up in a legal battle over the removal of first vice-president Cassim Chilumpha. Mutharika maintains that Chilumpha, a senior UDF leader, resigned from his position, but the former vice-president said he was fired, which is unlawful.

      According to the constitution, the two top leaders can only be removed from office by an impeachment process in parliament.

      Janet Banda, Chief Law Reform Officer of Malawi's Law Commission, has come out in support of expanding presidential power to include removing a deputy. "It is also argued that it is not fair that the president should be saddled with a vice-president with whom he or she cannot work."

      All suggestions will be tabled at a second constitutional review, expected to take place in September, before a final document is drawn up and presented to parliament for approval.

      *****

      Malawi: AFORD Convention On

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      April 10, 2006
      Posted to the web April 10, 2006

      Charles Chisi
      Lilongwe

      Alliance for Democracy (AFORD) will hold its much awaited indaba this month aimed at rejuvenating the party in readiness for the 2009 general elections, national party chairman Chipimpha Mughogho has disclosed.

      Aford failed to hold a convention in January this year due to unavailability of funds but in an interview from Rumphi yesterday, Mughogho said substantial funds have been found to enable the indaba take place. "We have identified funds though not enough. We are, nevertheless, proceeding with our convention in Mzuzu this month and hopefully by that time we will have met the shortfall," he said.

      Mughogho could, however, not tell how much has been raised and its source but said in January that about K2 Million would be needed to hold a successful convention to be sourced from well wishers and the Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) a body of all political parties in Parliament.

      He could also not tell the exact date for the convention saying it will be known in due course. "The date will be announced in due course," said Mughogho. "What we are doing now is to work out all the logistics for the convention before coming up with the dates.

      The party chair said all the vacant positions will be contested at the convention to resuscitate the party in preparation for the local government elections and the 2009 general elections.

      Asked if the position of party president will be contested with reports that party Czar Chakufwa Chihana is contemplating quitting active politics, Mughogho was non committal. "Honourable Chihana has not officially told us about his intention to retire and therefore we have no plans to have his position contested," Mughogho said.

      Aford has for a long time been punctuated by internal bickering which led to the formation of a splinter group, Movement for Genuine Democracy (MGODE) by Sam Kandodo Banda in 2002.

      The development contributed to the party's poor showing in the 2004 general elections where it emerged sixth with only six seats in the 193 seater august house.

      Presently the party has only two seats in Parliament following defections of its MPs to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The seats are for Chihana himself and Loveness Gondwe, his daughter-in-law.

      *****

      Malawi: Tembo Dismisses DPP Political Tactics On MPs

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      April 10, 2006
      Posted to the web April 10, 2006

      Arnold Mnelemba
      Lilongwe

      Leader of opposition in Parliament John Tembo, who is also the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) President has dismissed as mere political tactics assurances by the party in government, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) that members of parliament who side with government in parliament will have development programmes in their respective areas. "I come from Dedza. In my constituency and the entire district there are several development projects taking place, say for instance, the Secondary Centre Development Project (SCDP) Chitukuko Cha M'matauni.

      They are constructing a community ground, market and roads. There are other developments taking place, am I a DPP member?" asked Tembo.

      Tembo said he does not recognise independent members of parliament or from other parties who defected to the DPP, saying the genuine DPP MPs are those who recently won the by-elections on DPP ticket.

      He congratulated the six that won the December by-election on DPP ticket, Goodall Gondwe for Mzimba North, Lewis Kadam'manja for Chiradzulu North, Boniface Chimpokosera for Nsanje West, Samuel Selenje for Zomba Thondwe, Bernard Mwakaileke Kalambo for Karonga North and Francis Mukwala for Chitipa Wenya.

      In his response to the state of the nation address delivered by President Bingu wa Mutharika, Tembo said the nation has failed to consolidate principals of democracy, rule of law and democratic governance and blamed the Mutharika-led government for the failure.

      Tembo also said it was sad that the Malawi Rural Development Fund (MARDEF) was politicised by the DPP which he alleged used government resources to buy MPs from other political parties.

      He said buying and wooing of MPs from other political parties is undemocratic and unconstitutional.

      MCP suffered a severe political blow last year when its secretary general Kate Kainja Kaluluma, a member of parliament, defected to the DPP and Mutharika appointed her Education Minister.

      DPP Publicity Secretary Hetherwick Ntaba said Tembo's sentiments were kicks of a dying horse.

      *****

      Malawi: UDF Protests Against Deputy Speaker's Bias

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      April 10, 2006
      Posted to the web April 10, 2006

      Alnord Mnelemba
      Lilongwe

      Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jones Chingola had a tough task to control Parliament on Thursday when United Democratic Front (UDF) and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) members of parliament protested by walking out of parliament before lunch hour because, they said, the deputy speaker was biased.

      UDF Member of Parliament Chikalimba accused the deputy speaker of refusing opposition MPs to ask supplementary questions during question time.

      The problem arose when MCP Member of Parliament Stanely Chimphonda wanted to know how K50 million worth of medicine went missing from the Ministry of Health.

      The Deputy Speaker said the question was new therefore there was need for a notice for the speaker's information but this did not go down well with UDF and MCP members. "We would like to know Mr Speaker Sir, why you are contributing? You are not supposed to be participating in the debate but you are. Why are you doing this? The honourable minister would like to respond to the questions but you are stopping him from responding, why?" wondered Chikalimba.

      Ntaba was then allowed to respond to the question and told the House that he is going to prepare a comprehensive statement on the theft of government medicine, saying it is a very serious issue that cannot be explained.

      After that, UDF MPs started walking out before the meeting was suspended for lunch.

      Chingola, however, said he was not biased or stopped the members from contributing. He said MPs were free but the procedures were to be followed.

      *****

      Malawi: Bingu Fails to Congratulate DPP MPs in Parliament

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      April 10, 2006
      Posted to the web April 10, 2006

      Gregory Gondwe
      Lilongwe

      President Bingu wa Mutharika failed to congratulate the six newly elected Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) members of parliament during the opening of the House last week to avoid triggering a political backlash from the opposition legislatures.

      His prepared speech in his State of the Nation Address entitled 'Living together in peace and harmony,' had these words in paragraph number four which he deliberately omitted: "Mr. Speaker, Sir, allow me to congratulate the six newly elected members of parliament for their resounding success during the Parliamentary by-elections held last year under the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). "The results were a demonstration of the confidence and trust that the people of the respective constituencies have in all the candidates. I hope that the new members of parliament will serve the entire nation with complete loyalty and dedication." Those that won the December by-election on DPP ticket are Goodall Gondwe for Mzimba North, Lewis Kadam'manja for Chiradzulu North, Boniface Chimpokosera for Nsanje West, Samuel Selenje for Zomba Thondwe, Bernard Mwakaileke Kalambo for Karonga North and Francis Mukwala for Chitipa Wenya.

      In his two-hour long speech in Parliament, the president also avoided commenting on the country's political situation, especially the rift between him and vice president Cassim Chilumpha.

      Opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) leader in the House George Nga Ntafu told The Chronicle after the function that the President was scanty on his governance explanation. "He mentioned things which are small and relatively unimportant. The speech has omitted major issues," he said.

      Among other things, Mutharika outlined a number of issues, which his government has achieved in the last six months.

      He acknowledged that the Year 2005 registered a slow-down in economic growth. The economy grew by 2.1 percent as opposed to 4.3 percent in 2004 largely on account of depressed agricultural production because of drought.

      He said as a result the Government spent MK13 Billion to import maize.

      Ntafu contended in an interview with that the president was supposed to explain to the nation how it spent the MK13 Billion Mutharika said was used to import maize since some people in the country are still starving.

      But Mutharika said his government successfully introduced and implemented strategies to overcome what he called chronic food crises in the country. "It is now estimated that 2.5 million metric tons of maize would be harvested this year for the first time after many years, we expect surplus maize production" he said.

      He said this represents an increase of 43% over last year's maize production. This amount is an excess of the national requirement, which is about 2.2 million metric tons. "My Government continues to place emphasis on the importance of implementing sound economic management policies in order to attain rapid and sustainable economic growth", he said.

      Mutharika, however, did not mention whether the much awaited local government elections will be held this year or not.

      Instead, he said Local Government and Rural Development is the backbone of his government's strategy for poverty alleviation, drawing criticism from Ntafu who said: "We have not been told anything, not even in a single word, on local government elections. We think it is negligence on the part of government not to say anything on the local elections," he said.

      Mutharika also said that he was happy that the construction of the Karonga-Chitipa road will commence soon.

      Mutharika also said the Government is implementing the Community Based Rural Land Development Project known as 'Kudzigulira Malo', which will contribute towards poverty reduction by improving land delivery systems, accessing titles and registration; providing security of land tenure; increasing agricultural productivity and increasing incomes.

      The president also detailed developments that his government has achieved in Irrigation and Water development, industry science and technology, trade and private sector development, transport infrastructure, land and housing, energy, forestry and environment, education, health, labour and Vocational training, and the rule of law and access to justice.

      He also tackled defence and national security, gender and social development, public sector reforms, information and tourism, international relations, youth, sports and culture and persons with disabilities.

      *****

      Malawi: MP Accuses NRA, Assembly On Substandard Contractors

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      April 10, 2006
      Posted to the web April 10, 2006

      Alnard Mnelemba
      Lilongwe

      Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Member of Parliament for Lilongwe City Central, Boniface Kadzamira, has accused the National Road Authority (NRA) and the Lilongwe City Assembly (LCA) for engaging substandard contractors to construct or repair roads in townships, saying when the roads are repaired they barely last long enough before they are up in holes again.

      Kadzamira told The Chronicle in an interview that most of the roads in his constituency are in very poor and impassable state, citing one road from Area 25 to Msungwi, which is in very bad state, as an example. "Much as I recommend the good job NRA is doing in rehabilitating locations and feeder roads, I feel that the contractors that they are employing are of substandard. The Area 25 - Msungwi Ring Road, among other roads, was repaired just last year in October but by January this year it was full of holes. Today it is almost impassable to those travelling by vehicle," said Kadzamira.

      He said he had talked to NRA and Lilongwe City Assembly officials, respectively, for several times but he said nothing is materialising.

      NRA Public Relations Manager, Portia Kajanga, however, said in a telephone interview that the said roads were on the list of location roads in the cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe to be repaired shortly with funding from EU.

      Kajanga, however, could not give more details over the phone but advised the reporter to call at her office in person for a write-up.

      She was, however, reported to be out of the country when the reporter called last Monday.

      LCA Director of Public Works could not be reached for a comment as he was reportedly out of office every time the reporter called.

      Kamdzamira, who is under pressure from his constituents due to the current state the roads in his constituents are in, said there was need for NRA and the contractors to a guarantee on the duration of the work done lest he said government would continue to lose money on same things over and over again. "There has to be an agreed guarantee between the contractors and NRA and if the work done does not last to the agreed time then some measures ought to be taken. Otherwise the government will keep on losing the hardly earned money it gets from its citizens," he said.

      NRA has rehabilitated the Chilambula Road and it has constructed another road from Area 18 Round About to join the Kaunda Road at Gulliver in Lilongwe among other projects. Meanwhile, the body is rehabilitating the Likuni and Mchesi roads.

      *****

      Malawi: MP Accuses NRA, Assembly On Substandard Contractors

      The Chronicle Newspaper (Lilongwe)

      April 10, 2006
      Posted to the web April 10, 2006

      Alnard Mnelemba
      Lilongwe

      Malawi Congress Party (MCP) Member of Parliament for Lilongwe City Central, Boniface Kadzamira, has accused the National Road Authority (NRA) and the Lilongwe City Assembly (LCA) for engaging substandard contractors to construct or repair roads in townships, saying when the roads are repaired they barely last long enough before they are up in holes again.

      Kadzamira told The Chronicle in an interview that most of the roads in his constituency are in very poor and impassable state, citing one road from Area 25 to Msungwi, which is in very bad state, as an example. "Much as I recommend the good job NRA is doing in rehabilitating locations and feeder roads, I feel that the contractors that they are employing are of substandard. The Area 25 - Msungwi Ring Road, among other roads, was repaired just last year in October but by January this year it was full of holes. Today it is almost impassable to those travelling by vehicle," said Kadzamira.

      He said he had talked to NRA and Lilongwe City Assembly officials, respectively, for several times but he said nothing is materialising.

      NRA Public Relations Manager, Portia Kajanga, however, said in a telephone interview that the said roads were on the list of location roads in the cities of Blantyre and Lilongwe to be repaired shortly with funding from EU.

      Kajanga, however, could not give more details over the phone but advised the reporter to call at her office in person for a write-up.

      She was, however, reported to be out of the country when the reporter called last Monday.

      LCA Director of Public Works could not be reached for a comment as he was reportedly out of office every time the reporter called.

      Kamdzamira, who is under pressure from his constituents due to the current state the roads in his constituents are in, said there was need for NRA and the contractors to a guarantee on the duration of the work done lest he said government would continue to lose money on same things over and over again. "There has to be an agreed guarantee between the contractors and NRA and if the work done does not last to the agreed time then some measures ought to be taken. Otherwise the government will keep on losing the hardly earned money it gets from its citizens," he said.

      NRA has rehabilitated the Chilambula Road and it has constructed another road from Area 18 Round About to join the Kaunda Road at Gulliver in Lilongwe among other projects. Meanwhile, the body is rehabilitating the Likuni and Mchesi roads.

      *****

      Zim says aid agencies must stop crop forecasts

      Harare, Zimbabwe

      12 April 2006 10:12

      Zimbabwe's government has said aid agencies do not have permission to compile food production forecasts after some organisations projected the country faced a huge grain deficit, local reports said on Wednesday.

      Agriculture Minister Joseph Made complained that aid organisations were conducting "backdoor assessment exercises" and urged rural communities not to cooperate with the studies, the state-run Herald newspaper reported.

      Zimbabwe has been plagued by meagre harvests since the government began implementing a controversial land reform programme in 2000, and the authorities are keen for this year's growing season to be a success.

      But recent reports have suggested Zimbabwe's food woes are far from over. According to some reports, a harvest of only around 700 000 tonnes of the staple maize is expected this year, falling far short of the country's annual requirements of 1,8-million tonnes of the crop.

      Made also said the state's Agriculture and Rural Extension Services should "stop giving speculative reports" on crop yields, the paper reported.

      The minister said only a new committee that will operate under the stewardship of the Central Statistics Office had the mandate to carry out such assessments, the paper reported. - Sapa-DPA
    • 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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